clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The design tricks that keep skyscrapers from swaying

How to keep tall buildings from blowing over.

At 1,396 feet, 432 Park Avenue isn’t the tallest building in New York. But with a height-to-width ratio of 15 to 1, it is one of the skinniest. On windy days, that ratio can cause one little problem: swaying.

Back-and-forth movement on top floors can cause serious discomfort for people inside. To deal with that, modern skyscrapers use a slew of architectural tricks to confuse the wind. Details that might look like decorative flair — like twisted sides, tapered pointy tips, and gaping holes — are actually carefully designed wind reduction techniques that keep buildings still.

We’re in the middle of a super-tall skyscraper boom. And that means more and more people are going to rely on tools like these to live comfortably as we keep building into the sky.

Watch the video above to learn how the insides and outsides of tall buildings are designed to redirect wind. You can find this video and all of Vox’s By Design series on YouTube.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.