Anatomy of a Skyscraper.
By Kate Ascher.
Penguin Press. 207 pp. $35
In 2006, as my family and I rode from the Shanghai airport toward the city’s downtown, our young guide proudly pointed out the multitude of luminous skyscrapers—dazzling in their shapes, jeweled colors, and sheer height—soaring into the night sky. For millennia, men and nations have striven to build the tallest edifices—from Egypt’s pyramids (the tallest originally reached 481 feet) to America’s art deco Chrysler Building (1,046 feet) to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (2,717 feet)—as monuments to their advancing technology and supremacy. Shanghai’s 60-some-odd skyscrapers proclaim China’s status as a modern international powerhouse.
Today, in the entire world there are just over 500 skyscrapers (defined as buildings more than 600 feet tall). Hong Kong is the globe’s “tallest” metropolis; the combined height of its skyscrapers is triple that of New York City’s. In her illustrated guide The Heights, Kate Ascher, a real estate and development consultant and the author of The Works: Anatomy of a City (2005), details the history, design, and upkeep of these man-made marvels.
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