Building Height's Natural Breakpoints


Staff member
Dec 10, 2011
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It seems to me that we've had a scattered discussion of the economic and engineering reasons why buildings end up being the height they are. I thought I'd collect what I've heard here and invite community review:

1 to 2 Story: the practical limit for a building without an elevator that uses ramps or ground slope for access

3 to 4 Story: A typical residential limit because people don't like climbing stair, but not a good height for ADA (if you have an elevator, might as well go taller?)

5 to 6 Story: About the practical height of a hydraulic elevator; Also about the height for a ventilated biotech lab;

6 to 8 Story: About as high as municipal water will go without pumping; needs multiple cable elevators

8 to 12 Story: Pumped water, faster elevators

--- Is there kind of a "dead zone" in the 15-ish stories?

20 Stories: about the limit of single shaft elevators ?

--- is there another dead zone in the 30ish stories?

50 Stories: multiple groups of elevators eat up floor space on lower floors; utilities get fat and heavy