A loose convention in the United States and Europe now draws the lower limit of a skyscraper at 150 meters (~500 ft). A skyscraper taller than 300 meters (~1000 ft) may bereferred to as super tall. Shorter buildings are still sometimes referred to as skyscrapers if they appear to dominate their surroundings.
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The somewhat arbitraryterm skyscraper should not be confused with the also ill-defined term high-rise. The Emporis Standards Committee defines a high-rise building as "a multi-story structure between 35-100 meters tall, or a building ofunknown height from 12-39 floors" and a skyscraper as "a multi-story building whose architectural height is at least 100 meters." Some structural engineers define a highrise as any verticalconstruction for which wind is a more significant load factor than earthquake or weight. Note that this criterion fits not only high rises but some other tall structures, such as towers.
The skylines of many important medieval cities had large numbers of high-rise urban towers. Wealthy families built these towers for defensive purposes and as status symbols. Theresidential Towers of Bologna in the 12th century, for example, numbered between 80 to 100 at a time, the largest of which (known as the "Two Towers") rise to 97.2 metres (319 ft). In Florence, a law of1251 decreed that all urban buildings should be reduced to a height of less than 26 m, the regulation immediately put into effect. Even medium-sized towns at the time such as San Gimignano are knownto have featured 72 towers up to 51 m height.
An early modern example of high-rise housing was in 17th-century Edinburgh, Scotland, where a defensive city wall defined theboundaries of the city. Due to the restricted land area available for development, the houses increased in height instead. Buildings of 11 stories were common, and there are records of buildings as...