Does skyscraper sway contribute to “sick building syndrome” symptoms?

Upper floors in skyscrapers have incredible views, but with those views comes the occasional unnerving sensation that the building is swaying in the wind. The Ladders’ Jane Burnett writes:

In a University of Exeter statement on the study, Dr Antony Darby, Head of Civil Engineering at the University of Bath, commented on how well people tolerate movement in different situations: “Just like sea sickness, our propensity to motion induced discomfort is situation and environment dependent. For example, people at a concert in a grandstand will accept completely different level of vibration than those in a hospital operating theatre.” […]

According to the statement, “despite looking rigid in appearance, tall buildings can flex in response to external forces, and strong winds can make them vibrate or sway at low frequencies, sometimes with bursts of motion at random intervals,” adding that studies have shown that some people can detect the movement, which can at times result in “motion sickness and causing fear.”

Building sway is one thing, and having experienced it personally, it is a strange and disconcerting sensation — one does not typically expect a multi-million dollar luxury residence to shift with the wind, unless one is at sea and said residence is in fact a boat. But I must admit I was caught a little off guard when the article veered off in the direction of “sick building syndrome” — a phenomenon more typically linked to indoor air quality and HVAC system performance:

A 2008 article by the Air & Waste Management Association called “Linking Noise and Vibration to Sick Building Syndrome in Office Buildings” said that “in recent years, several studies have linked excessive noise and vibration in the office to illnesses, such as headaches, dizziness, irritability, and stress. This is similar to the more well-known indoor air quality triggers associated with sick building syndrome…”

As I tell my kids, “you learn something new every day, if you allow for the opportunity…”