The September 11th terrorist attacks left many questioning the future of skyscrape architecture, but as the past decade has shown, high-rise buildings remain central to contemporary urban planning. In fact, today's tallest buildings are so gravity-defying as to warrant their own category — the "supertall." Clay Risen traces the evolution of these modern marvels in a fascinating piece for Popular Science, while looking forward to the promise they hold.

As Risen explains, the construction of buildings like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was facilitated by a confluence of factors, including the economic demands of increasing populations and technological advances such as 3D modeling and the "buttressed core" design — a structure that the author compares to a "rocket ship with three long, thin stabilizing fins." Most intriguing, however, is the fact that this trend shows no signs of abating. According to experts, a mile-high building is already within the realm of possibility.