Why doesn't Italy have taller buildings?

The Pirelli building that was hit by the plane earlier today was 32 stories tall, and that made it the tallest building in Italy. From an American perspective, that seems hard to believe, since most cities here have at least one building that is that tall. I would think that Italy would have the same lack of space around their cities that forces the buildings to grow vertically, but they clearly don’t get very tall.

Is there any particular reason why Italy has puny skyscrapers?

      • Skyscrapers are only built to capitalize as much as possible on prime location real estate, not because there’s nowhere else to build. If there’s no demand for a particular address, then there’s not much reason for the owners to build any skyscrapers. - DougC

Also, it stops planes hitting them so often…

It seems to me that a lot of European cities wish to preserve their historic character by not building a lot of skyscrapers. I believe that’s the rationale behind the fact that Paris only has one skyscraper - Tour Montparnasse. (There are developments around Paris, such as La Défense, with plenty of skyscrapers.) Rotterdam, whose entire downtown was flattened by Nazi bombs, has a great deal of skyscrapers.

Actually, in Italy when they build them too tall they tilt.

Around here, most people don’t want to live or work in a skyscraper. The events of 9/11 and also today in Italy demonstrate why this is so.

Skyscrapers only make sense when property values become so ridiculously excessive that it pays to go far up rather than further out. This usually happens in highly centralised urban situations.

Increased use of IT and modern telecommunications will lead to decentralisation of communities. Why work in a skyscraper, when you can do your job on a mountainside? Recently, my company moved its entire back office out to the suburbs, because they do not need to be in the city to email and fax.

Our generation may be the last to build skyscrapers. Manhattan may soon be seen as an obsolete dysfunctional system.

And if more planes fly into large buildings, the process will happen even faster.

It may also depend on geology. I have heard (no cite at this point) that London has comparatively few very tall buildings because of a rising water table and the amount of clay.

And anything over 50 stories starts getting more expensive than building upward is really worth. Discovery channel has a few shows about skyscrapers, and all the really tall ones are very expensive to build.

I always thought it had something to do with the stability of the ground. The parts of Italy that I saw years ago when I was just a wee lil’ kit all had a great amount of old ruins that were preserved, along with underground structures, such as catacombs.

But I’ve never researched it–so I dunno.

I thought it had more to do with aethestics. Something about preserving the historic appeal of Italy.

Take my state as an example of the absurdity of building skyscrapers where there is a surplus of land. With 2.5 million square km (bigger than Western Europe), Western Australia has just 1.7 million people. Yet, Perth, our capital city, is blighted by a whole mass of glass and concrete skyscrapers (one is 51 storeys).

I’d agree with Narrad (and others) that the main reasons may be about aesthetics and preservation, but don’t forget that Italy is also prone to earthquakes. Although lots of other earthquake zones do have tall buildings, it is just one more reason against building tall unless you feel you have to.

FWIW, London is embarking on an ever-expanding programme of skyscraper construction, including plans for the tallest building in Europe, and it’s having to overcome numerous obstances to do so including the geological problems Crusoe mentioned, the conservation lobby and post-9/11 hysteria.

People, people - the Pirreli Building isn’t Italy’s tallest building; the Terrazza Columbo in Genoa beats it by a massive 2 inches.

Are you sure it’s the talest bldg in Italy? I only heard on the news that it’s the tallest bldg in Milano (Milan)?

If so, the most likely place for the tallest building would presumably be Rome, but they may have restrictions about heights of buildings there so as not to overpower the historic sites, like Washington D.C. Smaller cities will have shorter bldgs.

That does it, I’m complaining to CNN. First sentence of this article:

Also, I asked this question at work, and someone said that there’s something about Rome not having any buildings taller than St. Peter’s. I guess limiting the height of buildings in the biggest city would be a good reason for not having taller buildings.