Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

Vanity Height: the Use-less Space in Today’s Tallest

September 2013

Download the Tall Buildings in Numbers Article

We noticed in Journal 2013 Issue I’s case study on Kingdom Tower, Jeddah, that a fair amount of the top of the building seemed to be an unoccupied spire. This prompted us to investigate the increasing trend towards extreme spires and other extensions of tall buildings that do not enclose usable space, and create a new term to describe this – Vanity Height, i.e., the distance between a skyscraper’s highest occupiable floor and its architectural top, as determined by CTBUH Height Criteria.

Greatest Supertall
Vanity Ratio

With a vanity height of nearly 124 meters within its architectural height of 321 meters, the Burj Al Arab has the highest non-occupiable-to-occupiable height ratio among completed supertalls.
39% of its height is non-occupiable.
Figure 2. World’s Ten Tallest Vanity Heights View Larger
The ten tallest “Vanity Heights” in today’s completed supertalls as of July 2013 data.
* The highest occupied fl oor height as datum line.
** The highest occupied fl oor height.

Figure 3. History of Vanity Height View Interactive Chart
This chart shows Vanity Height as a percentage of overall architectural height for the world’s 74 completed supertalls.
Note: Historically there have been 74 completed supertalls (300+ m) in the world, including the now-demolished One and Two World Trade Center in New York.

Figure 4. Vanity Height in Detail View Larger
These graphs examine the average Vanity Height of completed supertalls by country, date of completion, and architectural height.

This article was originally featured in the CTBUH Journal 2013 Issue III and is also available as a PDF download (download the Tall Buildings in Numbers article).