Have you ever glanced up at the world’s biggest skyscrapers and thought “How on earth did they build that?” We find ourselves doing it all the time. Some of the planet’s most magnificent structures seem to defy logic and human construction. How did they build the Golden Gate Bridge? Or the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building? What about those stunning Bangkok hotels that touch the sky? For most of us who aren’t in the industry, it’s a complete mystery.
So, we decided to shed some light on things. We picked up the phone and called some colleagues in the civil engineering business. Then, we posed some of our questions to them. Thanks to their answers, we got a quick glimpse behind the scenes of these fascinating structures. In this post, we’re passing on some of the knowledge.
Step 1. Architecture
The first stage is a long and complex planning period. The stakeholders will sit down with the architects and outline their vision for the project. In the case of the Burj Khalifa, the owners wanted just one thing: the tallest building on earth. With that information, the architects can begin to draw up the plans. They’re responsible for the creative aspect of styling and designing the building. They’re also in charge of the logistics side. They make sure that all the measurements and drawings are 100% correct.
Step 2. Planning and restrictions
Next comes the dense planning stage. This period is defined by negotiations, permits and licenses. It’s the process of pushing the designs through local and national governments. The blueprints must get approval from the right people before they can start work. According to our colleagues, this is everyone’s least favourite stage!
Step 3. Project management
Finally, the project can begin, and the project managers take over from the architects. Here, the blueprints are transformed into schedules, timelines, and structured plans. The project managers will assemble their best trades people and teams. Work will finally begin in small stages. It’s the project manager’s job to hold this all together. They make sure the project runs on time, and sticks to budget. It’s one of the trickiest roles on the entire project.
Step 4. Specialist trades
One-by-one, the specialist trades will arrive on site to complete their part of the job. As you can imagine, a big skyscraper requires the expert handiwork of many trades. First of all, you need foundation experts and heavy duty concrete drilling professionals. Then you’ll need bricklayers and glaziers. Eventually, you’ll welcome plumbers and electricians onto the site. Of course, it’s the project manager’s job to schedule the trades and make sure everyone’s working in harmony.
Step 5. Completion
The building process will often take years, but eventually it will reach completion. The final piece of glass is fitted, and the last brick is laid. All that’s left to do is make sure the building passes regulations. It’s a nerve-wracking period, by all accounts. If anything fails the inspection, it’s back to the drawing board. Once passed, it’s time to open the doors, and celebrate!
So, now you know. Next time you gaze up at the tallest skyscrapers, you’ll understand the phenomenal process that goes into building them.