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No Toppling This Tower

Tokyo’s new 2,080-foot Sky Tree, the world’s tallest broadcast tower, is projected to draw 32 million visitors a year. But tourists won’t see one of its most striking features – a design intended to survive severe earthquakes and catastrophic winds.

Engineers began by studying soil formation as deep as 1.8 miles and taking meteorological measurements using a radiosonde balloon. The structure itself has a tripod base anchored with rootlike walled spikes plunging 330 feet. Above the ground, designers drew inspiration from the central column in Japan’s earthquake-resistant five-story pagodas, some of which have stood for more than 1,300 years. Adapting the design for the Sky Tree, they decoupled the core from the outer steel structure, with energy-absorbing oil dampers in between. The upper part of the column acts as a balancing weight against swaying. The end result, proclaims a paper by Thomas Bock of Munich Technical University, is “one of the safest buildings ever built.”

Video: Tokyo’sSky Tree“: An architectural wonder – CBS News Video

Photo: Kyodo/Newscom

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