Well-Known Skyscrapers in the United States
Updated: Jul 18
A skyscraper is an architectural structure designed to reach high above ground level. These buildings have been dominating city skylines for over a century. Find out more about the history of the skyscraper here!
Skyscrapers were a product of their time. As cities grew, architects needed to find a way to create more space for people to occupy. An economic boom in the later 1800s, and a new process to create steel faster, helped boost the popularity of the skyscraper. Originally, tall buildings were made of iron, but steel is both stronger and lighter, making it the perfect materials for these buildings.
The first skyscrapers were not as tall as they are today. The tallest among them were about 10-20 stories high, although now they can reach up to 100 stories. However, the installation of elevators also helped the skyscraper boom. According to Britannica, the first passenger safe elevator was installed in 1857 in the Haughwout Department Store.
Cities were growing rapidly, creating a need for buildings to move up rather than out. Taller buildings meant that people had more room to walk around them. In addition, higher buildings made it easier to see the sky and the stars at night. Today, most architects focus on the design of the building to create a beautiful cityscape.
Types of Skyscrapers
There are four different types of skyscrapers which are dependent on the height of the building. The first classification is a “tall building.” This is for buildings that are shy of the skyscraper criteria, although there aren’t set rules for what constitutes a “tall building.”
The next category is “skyscraper.” To be a skyscraper, a building must be a minimum of 492 ft tall. There are no official rules for skyscrapers, though some believe that these buildings must be self-supporting and at least 50% of the building has to be habitable.
Next comes the “supertall” skyscrapers. These buildings reach above 984 ft high. This height wasn’t achievable until the 1900s, but there are now over 300 “supertall” buildings around the world today.
The final category is “megatall” skyscrapers. A “megatall” building is well over 1,969 ft in height. There are only three of these buildings in existence. The B1M says these buildings are Abraj al Bait Tower in Saudi Arabia, the Shanghai Tower in China, and the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates.
The main material used in skyscrapers is steel. This material is durable and lightweight, meaning buildings can be built taller before the structure is compromised. A steel frame with curtain walls allows skyscrapers to have the traditional window covered walls. Sometimes a special type of weathering steel, called Cor-ten Steel, is used to prevent rust and corrosion. Concrete is another material that is seen in these buildings, although it is heavier than steel, so it isn’t the preferred material.
Taller buildings use a type of design called “tubes.” These tubes allow buildings to be built taller with less materials. Exterior columns are built close together and connected to create these tubes. With this type of architectural structure, less supports are needed, which means there is more habitable space in the building.
The tallest building in Columbus, OH is the Rhodes State Office Tower. This skyscraper sits at 629 ft in height and is the fifth tallest in the state. It currently serves as office space. During construction, the height of the building was changed to be shorter than originally planned.
The second tallest skyscraper is the LeVeque Tower. It sits downtown Columbus at 555 ft and 5 in. It features 47 stories which have a multitude of purposes. This building is used as a hotel, apartments, office space, and even has a restaurant. Attached to Leveque Tower is the Palace Theatre.
The Huntington Center is an iconic skyscraper in the Columbus cityscape. At 512 ft tall with 37 stories, this building is the fourth tallest in the city. It acts as office spaces, as well as being home to various businesses on the lower levels. This building offers beautiful views from the tenant lounge on the 36th floor.
The tallest skyscraper in Cincinnati, OH is the Great American Tower at Queen City Square. This building is 665 ft in height with 41 stories and is the third tallest structure in the state. The top of the building was built to represent Princess Diana’s tiara as the city is nicknamed Queen City.
Carew Tower is an Art Deco style building with 49 stories. It sits at 574 ft tall in downtown Cincinnati as the second tallest building in the city. Built in 1930, the Carew Tower is on the register of National Historic Landmarks. This building is used in various ways, including office space, a hotel, and stores. From the observation deck, visitors can see three different states.
The 4th & Vine Tower is a 495 ft tall skyscraper with 31 stories. It overlooks the Ohio River and belongs to PNC Bank. However, due to a newer PNC building, the 4th & Vine Tower is not as occupied as it once was. Future plans for this building include transitioning it to apartments and office spaces.
The tallest skyscraper in Pittsburgh, PA is the U.S. Steel Tower. At 841 ft tall with 64 stories, this building is the fifth tallest in the state. The U.S. Steel Tower was the first to use liquid-filled fireproofed columns. It is also made of a special metal called Cor-ten steel that resists corrosion from the outside elements. Unfortunately, as a side effect of the Cor-ten steel, sidewalks and surrounding buildings became discolored. This building is currently used as office space.
At 725 ft, the BNY Mellon Center is the second tallest building in Pittsburgh. It features 55 stories and is connected to the U.S. Steel Tower through an underground tunnel. In 2010, the rooftop signage was changed from “Mellon” to “BNY Mellon” with their triangle logo. This building was featured in the movie Flashdance while it was under construction.
Fifth Avenue Place is a 31 story building that is 616 ft tall. The roof features four granite prisms to cover a penthouse that holds various electric equipment for the building. It also features a 178 ft mast that signifies the original height plan for the building. This building was capped out at 616 ft because of concerns regarding the appearance of the skyline. The first two floors of this building are used as a shopping mall.
The Bank of America Plaza in Dallas is the tallest building in the city. At 921 ft tall with 72 stories, it is also the state’s third tallest skyscraper. It boasts to be the 45th tallest skyscraper in the United States. It has been nicknamed “The Pickle” due to its green lighting accents. This building acts as office space and a broadcast center. There is an observation deck on the 70th floor to enjoy the view of the city.
The second tallest building in Dallas is the Renaissance Tower, although it was almost surpassed by the Comerica Bank Tower. It sits at 886 ft tall with 56 stories. It is also the fifth tallest structure in the state. This building was featured in the television series Dallas. It is currently used as office space and houses a two-story underground food court. Tunnels connect the food court to other buildings via tunnels.
The Comerica Bank Tower is the third tallest building in Dallas, TX. It features 60 stories and is 787 ft tall. It was originally supposed to surpass the height of the Renaissance Tower, but antennas and spires were added to the Renaissance Tower last minute in order to keep its title of second tallest. It is also the sixth tallest structure in Texas. Today this building houses a bank, stock exchange hall, and office spaces.
The tallest skyscraper in Tampa, FL is 100 North Tower. It stands at 579 ft and has 42 floors. It is also the tallest structure along Florida’s Gulf Coast. This postmodern building is home to office spaces for various companies. It features a gothic-style roof and pewter-tinted glass. There are two 40 ft tall granite arches at both entrances to this building.
One Tampa City Center is the third tallest building in Tampa with 39 stories at 537 ft in height. This building features a modernist architectural structure with glass facades. The current signage at the top of this building reads “PNC”, though it used to feature Verizon's logo. This building is used as an office space today, as well as hosting various stores and a hotel.
Park Tower is the sixth tallest structure in Tampa, but it was Tampa’s first high-rise tower. It stands at 460 ft in height with 36 stories. Below this building lies a Federal Reserve Vault with strict security measures. This building is currently used as office space, has two separate cafes, and houses a tenant lounge on the 6th floor.
Commercial buildings, like skyscrapers, will often have a flat roof, or a low-sloped roof. This type of roof allows for more space within a building. Electric equipment is typically stored on flat roofs. Lifetime Quality Roofing are your local experts on commercial roofing. Call 614-407-7663 for a 100% free inspection today!