Proliferation of Tall Buildings in the Cityscape (2009)

Property development and the growth of cities, Proliferation of tall buildings, dr jon drane, Skyline city City Development Processes Publications Dr Jon Drane, propertydevelopment feasibilty, highest and best us property

Proliferation of Tall Buildings in the Cityscape (2009) A Working Paper Jonathan Drane 2009

Earth Acne
Proliferation of tall office buildings in the cityscape
Dr Jonathan Drane


There was a time on planet earth when no cities existed, when the earth’s face was un-blemished by man-made structure or remnant. In the era since however, the face of the earth has been marked by the advent of human made structures and other remnants. The most prevalent physical remnant measured by visual impact has been the built form, the continuing spread of the building remnants of human existence that accommodate human activity and organization.

Presenting in forms such as dwellings, monuments, temples, towers, bridges and roadways they have been spread across the planet for millennia. Despite the aesthetic merit of many, from the planet’s point of view they are a blemish, which until invaded by them, offered the rich provinces of natural habitat such as plains, grasslands, deltas, mountains and rivers..

Working Papers

Read working paper:

Drane 2010 – Earth Acne Working Paper


Working Paper Jonathan Drane 2009.

Bamboo Buildings

Article on Proliferation of Tall Buildings by Jonathan Drane
‘Proliferation of tall office buildings in the cityscape’


Cities appear to abound with office buildings which, if seen as a ‘species’, (of building) could be considered the dominant and most prolific compared to others ( like apartments, hotels, hospitals and malls).

Given that office buildings are the reason why a great majority of the working population are required to move across the planet twice every day, causing significant economic and  environmental impacts, their continued proliferation and domination is worthy of further questioning.

This dominance appears to occur in many ways; including height, mass, m2 area, population, density and  proliferation rates.

Office buildings have grown considerably in average height as a species only in the last century, due to structural technology which allows for them to soar from their previous height of a few levels, to over a hundred levels.  A building of this height can house the equivalent of a country town. One tower can now hover above a block of land that would normally be allocated to the local post office.

As office buildings get higher, their average footprint ( the area of the tower as it intersects the earth) grows as well, to allow for structural integrity. Due to this and their great height, their mass is considerable compared to other species.

Working Papers

Read working Paper:

Drane 2010- Bamboo Buildings Working Paper


Working Paper Jonathan Drane 2009

Buildings in the Mist

Many civilizations have left remnants and edifices, and yet whilst pyramids adorned ancient times, and churches the middle ages, today the accommodation of ‘the corporation’ and its growth, appears to fuel the creation of what may become some of our most significant remnants as a species- the tall building.

The topic is enhanced for me by a recurring image which replays in my mind of an archaeological dig several thousand years from now, which uncovers the tip of the largest tower in Dubai, and proceeds to decipher and guess the unimaginable forces that yielded physical remnants of this scale! A scale unseen and unmatched by the pyramids themselves!


My area of interest had its genesis in the thesis topic I started during my Master of Business Administration, at MGSM, Sydney, Australia in 1990.

Initially called ‘The Relationship between Corporate Strategy and Spatial/ Physical Needs’, the topic was renamed during my DBA programme, (in 2000) into the esoteric title  ‘Growth & The Outer Shell’.

The reference to ‘growth’ is faithful to the original idea of corporate growth, but ‘The Outer Shell’ centred the focus on the manifestation of growth in physical form, through the edifices that are created as a remnant of our civilization.

Any research on such a vast and conceptual topic needs to start somewhere, and so it was seen prudent to focus firstly on the physical remnant of the ‘apparent cause; corporate growth’, in the form of tall buildings, with a particular emphasis on tall office buildings seen as a ‘prolific species’.

‘Buildings In The Mist’ was born from this idea, and evokes the chilling nature of our cityscape, with towers sitting quietly in the mist of their own creation.

The first chapter in this study is titled ‘Bamboo Buildings- The proliferation of office buildings in the cityscape’, and is planned to be undertaken in a dissertation through a doctoral programme at MGSM. (See below)

Central Research Focus

To understand the relationship between corporate growth and the changing physical ‘built face’ of our cities.

To determine if corporate growth is the defining catalyst (in this civilization)  in creating the physical remnants of our cities, and for that matter the predominant pattern of physical remnant across the face of the planet.

How different are the physical remnants of our civilization from those of past civilisations, and will they in time provide the obvious mark of a civilisation driven by the central idea of growth for the sake of growth?

Do the physical remnants of our civilization have a pattern which forms the blueprint to understanding our type of civilization, as compared to past and future civilizations?

Application & Objective

The topic takes my thirty years of building and development of corporate towers and  edifices into a new understanding of their significance as a hallmark or a relic of our ever growing civilization.

Read working paper : Earth Acne, Jonathan Drane,  2009

Ranking the Growth of Megacities

Dynamic growing cities are currently ranked by human population alone- those with over ten million people being called ‘Mega-cities’, resulting in the attention of academic, government and industry commentators.

This paper explored the inclusion of building matter and different building types, as well as human population as a measure of a city’s propensity to grow.

It was written as a thesis assignment during Dr Drane’s DBA programme at MGSM, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

This paper formed the foundation for Dr Drane’s doctorate ‘The Seed in the Cityscape’ at UNSW Built Environment from 2011 to 2015. See article below.

The Seed in the Cityscape: The property development mechanism and its influence on the growth of cities.

City and Property Development Models and Systems.

Dr Jon Drane wrote the  first practitioner doctorate (worldwide) on city development processes and the way property developers operate in both the private and public sector.

The doctorate is titled ‘The Seed in the Cityscape’ which focused on city development processes and mechanisms. He focused on property developer culture and practices in the private and public sector and created the concept of the ‘land parcel’ and associated ‘land parcel dynamics’.

City Development Processes- the first practitioner doctorate

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