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A skyscraper is a tall, continuously habitable building having multiple floors. When the term was originally used in the 1880s it described a building of 10 to 20 floors but now describes one of at least 40–50 floors. Mostly designed for office, commercial and residential uses, a skyscraper can also be called a high-rise, but the term “skyscraper” is often used for buildings higher than 50 m (164 ft). For buildings above a height of 300 m (984 ft), the term “supertall” can be used, while skyscrapers reaching beyond 600 m (1,969 ft) are classified as “megatall”.
One common feature of skyscrapers is having a steel framework that supports curtain walls. These curtain walls either bear on the framework below or are suspended from the framework above, rather than resting on load-bearing walls of conventional construction. Some early skyscrapers have a steel frame that enables the construction of load-bearing walls taller than of those made of reinforced concrete.
Modern skyscrapers’ walls are not load-bearing, and most skyscrapers are characterized by large surface areas of windows made possible by steel frames and curtain walls. However, skyscrapers can have curtain walls that mimic conventional walls with a small surface area of windows. Modern skyscrapers often have a tubular structure, and are designed to act like a hollow cylinder to resist wind, seismic, and other lateral loads. To appear more slender, allow less wind exposure, and transmit more daylight to the ground, many skyscrapers have a design with setbacks, which are sometimes also structurally required.