Ever wonder if there's a limit to how high a building can be? The Atlantic writer Nate Berg asked some architects and other design engineers and found out that even with current technology and materials, there's really not a physical limit on skyscraper height. Especially if you build it sort of like a mountain (or the Eiffel Tower), with a wide base supporting the tower.
There are troubles, though, when you realize that the base you need is pretty darn big -- in the nature of square miles of territory, in fact. The designers also said that current elevator technology limits the building height -- if for no other reason than the taller the building, the longer it takes to get to the top. A mile-high skyscraper, for example, is possible with modern design techniques and some small projected advances in building material. But the elevator to the top would have to be a speed demon in order to make the trip in a useful time frame. Remember, it has to go a full mile. At 10 mph, it would take six minutes. Not so long, perhaps, but I'm going to bet not many people are keen on the idea of standing in an elevator for six minutes. If the elevator ran at 20 mph, then it would make the base-to-summit trip in about three minutes, and according to the infallible internet, most elevators in tall buildings run about 22 mph with slowdowns as they approach the destination floor.
Elevators can of course run faster -- mining elevator systems may go at 40 to 50 miles an hour, but they have the accompanying bumpy ride and factor of sheer terror at realizing you are falling down a rocky shaft at 50 mph.
The other major problem, according to the designers, is cost. Supersize buildings use a supersize amount of money to get themselves built.
But the towers keep rising, so somebody somewhere has the money to spend to get themselves as far off the ground as possible. I'd think a pilot's license would be cheaper.