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The planned view of the Moscow International Business Center, Moscow-City, Moscow

A skyline is best described as the overall or partial view or relief of a city's tall buildings and structures consisting of many skyscrapers. It can also be described as the artificial horizon that a city's overall structure creates. An impressive skyline may be thought of as a representation of a city's overall power; the more prominent the skyline, the more money the city has to spend. Skylines also serve as a kind of fingerprint of a city, as no two skylines are alike. Skylines that are stretched out to a large (sometimes panoramic) view because of large cities or twin cities are called cityscapes. In many but not all metropolises, skyscrapers play a significant role in defining the skyline. In many metropolises the skyline tends to form the shape of an artificial mountain, with the tallest buildings toward the center of town. Chicago, Hong Kong, and New York City, other wise known as the "the big three," are recognized in most architectual circles as having the most compelling skylines in the world.


[edit] Types of skyline views

  • Daytime: A normal, generally widestretched view of a city's skyline that is during the daytime. Sometimes used during dawn and dusk to use the setting and rising sun in the background.
  • Silhouette: A skyline where buildings are blended together as one black shape that usually includes only one layer of the skyline.
  • Nightime: A skyline during the nightime. What one sees of buildings is mainly the lighting inside, and sometimes illumination on the outside, for eye candy or advertising. For cities on lakes and oceans the reflective water adds to the view, and is also commonly used in pictures.

[edit] Best Skylines of the World

The term "best" is a subjective one in most cases, and it is especially so when dealing with skylines since they can vary so much in form and size. In comparing skylines from different places, while measurements of height are inevitable, one has to decide what constitutes a skyline in more concrete terms. For example, does a house count, or is there a minimum height? Do you include towers, or only buildings? And, when measuring buildings, do you include the spires or antennas? Several sites on the Internet rank skylines with different criteria. Most recognize that a skyline should have a recognizable man-made vertical set-up or design in a geographically-defined urban area, visible against a horizon. Common elements in these rankings are:

  • Verticality. Height of buildings or structures.
  • Cutoff Point. Some arbitrary point at which they stop including buildings or structures.

[edit] Ranking Skylines by Breadth and Height

For skyline rankings based on the height of buildings, as well as the number of buildings above 90 m (295 feet - or about a 25 story office or 30 stort residential building), one can visit The World's Best Skylines by Egbert Gramsbergen and Paul Kazmierczak. For the ranking, this cutoff height of 90m is first substracted from each building; the remainder goes into the total score of the city. This kind of ranking avoids abrupt change around the cutoff height (i.e. small difference in height should give small difference in score) but disfavours cities with many mid-rise buildings. For example, a skyline with twenty 100m buildings would score 20*(100-90)=200, and one 300m building alone would give 300-90=210. Hence, as this site states, it tries to measure both the height and breath of a skyline. In this type of ranking, where the number of buildings included for each city can vary, the selected cutoff point can have big impact on the results. For example, the site, which ranks Hong Kong at number one and New York City at two, notes that it included almost four times as many buildings in Hong Kong's scoring (2,939) as it did for New York (849). Had they chosen 500 feet (152 meters - or about 40 stories) as the cutoff point, New York would have had 184 buildings included, and only 116 for Hong Kong, clearly changing the results. To further complicate matters, many Hong Kong skyscrapers have a common base or podium of several stories that then split into separate towers. If one counts each separate tower column as a separate skyscraper like Emporis does, the count changes again for Hong Kong only, rising to 186. The site includes its methodology and ranks to the top 100. Its top ten are:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. New York City
  3. Dubai
  4. Tokyo
  5. Shanghai
  6. Chicago
  7. Bangkok
  8. Guangzhou
  9. Kuala Lumpur
  10. Singapore

Another site that also ranks by breath and height is the Skyline Rankings by Emporis. This particular ranking makes the cutoff even lower, including all buildings with twelve or more stories; and gives points according to the number of stories in a building, instead of the actual height of a building, making it less height-sensitive. This method can and does often result in more points for a shorter building than a taller one, since the height of stories can vary greatly from building to building, and thus favors a skyline with lots of horizontal lines. For example, in San Francisco, One Rincon Hill South Tower (61 floors) gets 200 points, while the 65 m taller Transamerica Pyramid (48 floors) gets only 50 points. This is how São Paulo makes it to the top ten, even though it has only four buildings that qualify as skyscrapers (at least 492 feet (150 m) high). The site includes its methodology and ranks to the top 100. Its top ten are:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. New York City
  3. Seoul
  4. Chicago
  5. Singapore
  6. Shanghai
  7. Bangkok
  8. São Paulo
  9. Tokyo
  10. Guangzhou

[edit] Ranking Skylines by Height Alone

For a skyline ranking that focuses on height alone, The World's Tallest Cities by Ultrapolis Project ranks skylines based on the ten tallest buildings and towers of each city. In this kind of ranking, a fixed number of buildings for each city is included as the cutoff point, placing the emphasis on height. By this method, Chicago ranks number one. The site includes its methodology and ranks up to the top 25. Its top ten are:

  1. Chicago
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Kuala Lumpur
  4. New York City
  5. Shanghai
  6. Dubai
  7. Houston
  8. Shenzhen
  9. Toronto
  10. Singapore

[edit] Ranking Skylines by Aesthetics

Another site that ranks skylines, The Best Skylines of the World by Di Serio, uses a more aesthetically-focused, and thus subjective, approach - and includes stunning photographs to make its point. The site explains its aesthetic and philosophical approach, and ranks up to the top 30. Its top ten are:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Chicago
  3. New York City
  4. Shanghai
  5. Tokyo
  6. Singapore
  7. Toronto
  8. Kuala Lumpur
  9. Shenzhen
  10. Seoul

Interestingly, the ranking of city skylines is often the subject of hot debate within skyscraper and skyline enthusiast circles, perhaps because skylines do seem to have a correlation to the wealth and stature of their cities. However, regardless of the methods or criteria used to determine these rankings, one can see that certain cities, such as Hong Kong, New York, Chicago, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo always make the list of the top ten, so there is a general consensus on what the greatest skylines in the world today are. These lists reflect an unprecedented building boom in the Middle and Far East. The New York City skyline, which in 1970 was in a category all its own, with fully two thirds of the world's tallest 100 buildings, now has a lot of company.

[edit] Most impressive skylines in particular regions

This list borrowed its sources from Emporis and Skyscraperpage.

[edit] External links

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