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editorial

Tall buildings aren’t always what they appear

Allowing greater building heights is one way to relieve the city’s space crunch. Turns out, however, not all height is the same.

As many as two-thirds of the world’s tallest building are, well, cheating. A global review by the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats found that 44 out of 72 skyscrapers vying to be among the loftiest are actually employing so-called “vanity height” — that is, the empty space between the highest occupiable floor and the architectural top. Without tacked-on spires and communications antennas, these towers wouldn’t break the 300 meters, or about 1,000 feet, required to rank among the super-tall.

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