Space & Innovation

Don't Look Down: Mile-High Tower Revealed

If built, The Mile observation tower would become the tallest manmade structure in the world — dwarfing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Imagine a compact, vertical Central Park and you're getting close to what Italian architect Carlo Ratti and his team have planned for a new observation tower that, if built, would become the tallest manmade structure in the world.

Ratti's firm just released design plans for the dizzying skyscraper, aptly named The Mile.

20 Mega-Tall Buildings By 2020

Nearly twice the height of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, The Mile will house a "Sky Park" that contains a natural ecosystem with birds and plants, a "Sky Way" with panoramic dining and meeting space, and a "Sky Deck" that boasts 360-degree views, DesignBoom reported.

"The ascent to the observation decks will utilize orbiting sculptural capsules, which can host meetings, dinners, concerts, or even pools - allowing people to inhabit the sky in unprecedented ways," the firm's press release said. At the tippy top, visitors could look out at the view and interact with the landscape through virtual reality touchscreens.

Dream This Up: Structures Meld Art And Design

This "plaza in the sky" will house hundreds of animal species, be full of plants and natural greenery, and boast a "latticework of transportation lines."

The height will be achieved through a lightweight 65-foot-wide structure compressed and secured by pre-stressed cables, according to the firm. They cite the Eiffel Tower, the London Eye, and architect Buckminster Fuller as sources of inspiration for different aspects of the tower.

Currently it's unclear where on earth the tower would be built, but we should have more details when Ratti - who also directs the MIT Senseable City Lab - and his team present the designs next month in Cannes for the international property event MIPIM.

1,000-Foot Ski Slope: Better Than the Elevator

As unbelievable as the plans look - to me, at least - Ratti's team announced that they're working on the design with the structural engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann & Partner and British design firm Atmos Studio for an "undisclosed client." So someone is taking this seriously.

Living so close to Denver, I had a different thought when first hearing "mile-high park." The city comes in at 5,280 feet above sea level, after all. Building a tower that equals our altitude strikes me as both breath-taking and unnecessary. Just step off the plane out here, and you'll be just as high.

This week, we covered news that

Hitachi was building a superfast elevator

to zip passengers from the first floor of the CTF building in Guangzhou, China, to the 95th in 43 seconds. That kind of speed, 20 meters per second, is almost a requirement if a person is going to reach their destination in the kind of super tall buildings popping up around the world.

The story inspired us to look at the growth of extreme skyscrapers and devote this week's Tasty Tech slideshow to the 20 buildings expected to reach "mega tall" status by 2020, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).

In 2000, the average height of the tallest buildings was 1,230 feet. By 2010, that average rose to 1,440 feet and by 2020, the average height is expected to reach 1,962.

CTBUH

predicts that within this decade, we will see a kilometer-tall building. That's 3,280 feet!

Here are 20 buildings -- from the tallest to the "shortest" -- that the council expects to see piercing skylines by 2020, if they aren't already.

Height to tip: 3,281

Number of elevators: 59

Top elevator speed: 10 meters/sec

Completion scheduled for 2019

Height to tip: 2,723

Number of elevators: 58

Top elevator speed: 10 meters/sec

Completed 2010

Height to tip: 2,165

Number of elevators: 76

Top elevator speed: 10 meters/sec

Completion scheduled for 2016

Height to tip: 2,101

Number of elevators: 43

Top elevator speed: unknown

Completion date not scheduled

Height to tip: 2,093

Number of elevators: unknown

Top elevator speed: unknown

Completion scheduled for 2020

Height to tip: 2,073

Number of elevators: 106

Top elevator speed: 18 meters/sec

Completion scheduled for 2015

Height to tip: 2,087

Number of elevators: 84

Top elevator speed: 12.5 meters/sec

Completion scheduled for 2017

Height to tip: 1,972

Number of elevators: 96

Top elevator speed: 6 meters/sec

Completed 2012

Height to tip: 1,957

Number of elevators: unlisted

Top elevator speed: unknown

Completion scheduled for 2016

Height to tip: 1,824

Number of elevators: 58

Top elevator speed: 10 meters/sec

Completion scheduled for 2016

Height to tip: 1,808

Number of elevators: unknown

Top elevator speed: unknown

Completion date not scheduled

Height to tip: 1,792

Number of elevators: 71

Top elevator speed: 10.16 meters/sec

Completed 2014

Height to tip: 1,739

Number of elevators: 86

Top elevator speed: 20 meters/sec

Completion scheduled for 2016

Height to tip: 1,739

Number of elevators: 59

Top elevator speed: unknown

Completion scheduled for 2017

Height to tip: 1,699

Number of elevators: 37

Top elevator speed: 9 meters/sec

Completion scheduled for 2017

Height to tip: 1,693

Number of elevators: 23

Top elevator speed: 8 meters/sec

Completion date not scheduled

Height to tip: 1,674

Number of elevators: 45

Top elevator speed: 10 meters/sec

Completion scheduled for 2020

Height to tip: 1,667

Number of elevators: 61

Top elevator speed: 16.8 meters/sec

Completed 2004

Height to tip: 1,640

Number of elevators: 61

Top elevator speed: unknown

Completed 2011

Height to tip: 1,622

Number of elevators: 91

Top elevator speed: 10 meters/sec

Completed 2008