Regarding Skyscrapers

An interesting discussion broke out between myself and a colleague earlier today. He was wondering if Jollibee Plaza, Ortigas, our office building, classified as a skyscraper or just a really tall building. (Why he would ask me, a Statistician, baffles me as well.) Standing from the penthouse floor of our 34-storey building, it looks huge; standing from outside and looking up at it, on the other hand, it looks like just another tall building — not the kind that reminds you of the skyscrapers in Manhattan. It hardly looks like a significant fraction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the world’s tallest, at 829.8 metres). His random question got us into spending the remaining fraction of our lunch break researching construction standards for skyscrapers, and local data on the country’s tallest buildings.

Height criteria for what classifies as a skyscraper vary across the years. Who in the early nineteenth century would have guessed that by 2009 the world would see the completion of a functional building spanning nearly a kilometer in height? As technology and scientific knowledge continue to progress, factoring in as well economic development, the possibilities of human architecture see ever-expanding horizons. Current averages, however, would place a skyscraper as having somewhere above a hundred meters in height (Dow, 2016); suggested measures by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) place a skyscraper at having 40 to 50 stories, equivalent to about 175 meters in height.

This means our office, with 33 floors above ground and a height of 124.38 meters is just barely a skyscraper (though a second building, proposed to be 41 stories high at 150m is under way). Now, what are some of the tallest skyscrapers in the country? There’s the Federal Land Tower in Bonifacio Global City, standing at 318 meters with 66 floors. This is the country’s first supertall skyscraper (a “supertall” skyscraper has a standard height of at least 300m according to the CTBUH). The Trump Tower Manila in Makati comes second, standing at 280 m, or 57 floors. One of the country’s current top 5, the Gramercy Residences in Makati Poblacion, has 73 floors measuring 250 meters, making it as the country’s tallest residential building.

Keeping in pace with the rest of the world, the new century has seen the Philippines taking a massive upgrade in the heights of its buildings. Until 1989, the country’s tallest buildings hardly reached skyscraper status, measuring at heights just below a hundred meters. This changed with the completion of the Pacific Star Building, which stood at 112.5 meters, or 29 floors. Since then the growth of our skyscrapers has accelerated immensely: within 8 years, we finally hit the CTBUH’s standard for skyscraper height of 175 meters with the completion of the Robinsons Equitable PCI Tower in Ortigas, and just this year we achieved our first Supertall skyscraper with the Federal Land Tower in Bonifacio Global City.

(1) Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). “CTBUH Height Criteria For Measuring and Defining Tall Buildings.” Link:

(2) Dow, Aisha (15 February, 2016). “Melbourne’s skyline to become tallest in the nation.” The Age: Victoria. Link:

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