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NOVA: High-Risk High-Rise

Up view in financial district, Manhattan, New York
© Zhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock
Up view in financial district, Manhattan, New York.

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV / Stream now with KPBS Passport!

Hundreds of new skyscrapers are being built around the globe. As nations vie for prestige and developers look to maximize limited urban space, these shimmering towers are rising higher and higher.

NOVA: High-Risk High-Rise Preview

In China alone, dozens of buildings reach over 1,000 feet, with one topping 2,000 feet. But for all their impressive engineering, are these buildings safe? And can they be made livable? Are building regulations keeping up with the vertical building boom?

NOVA: When Earthquake Damage is Invisible

In San Francisco, skyscrapers can be built on unstable, sinking ground. And internal sprinkler systems—the only hope for extinguishing fires that burn beyond the reach of firefighters’ ladders—are often ineffective.

NOVA: Stopping the Millennium Tower from Sinking Further

Now, NOVA explores the science behind the risks of sky-high buildings, from the structural limits of building materials to the threats presented by wind, fire, and earthquakes. Experts show how the science of evacuation has shaped buildings in recent years, and what we have—and haven’t—learned from past tragedies.

Watch On Your Schedule: NOVA "High-Risk High-Rise" will be available to stream with KPBS Passport, a member benefit that unlocks exclusive shows and extra content on the PBS App.

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