Charting the Last 20 Years of Supertall Skyscrapers
At the end of the 20th century, supertall skyscrapers—buildings exceeding 300 meters in height—were still somewhat of a novelty in the world.
Only 24 supertall skyscrapers existed at that time, with half of them located in U.S. cities. That list included iconic structures such as the Empire State Building and Willis Tower, as well as newer landmarks like Atlanta’s Bank of America Plaza.
According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) database, the following buildings comprised the world’s full roster of supertall skyscrapers in 1999:
|Building Name||City||Height (m)||Height (ft)||Completion|
|One World Trade Center||New York City 🇺🇸||417||1,368||1972|
|Two World Trade Center||New York City 🇺🇸||415||1,362||1973|
|Petronas Twin Tower 1||Kuala Lumpur 🇲🇾||452||1,483||1998|
|Petronas Twin Tower 2||Kuala Lumpur 🇲🇾||452||1,483||1998|
|Willis Tower||Chicago 🇺🇸||442||1,451||1974|
|Jin Mao Tower||Shanghai 🇨🇳||421||1,380||1999|
|CITIC Plaza||Guangzhou 🇨🇳||390||1,280||1996|
|Shun Hing Square||Shenzhen 🇨🇳||384||1,260||1996|
|Empire State Building||New York City 🇺🇸||381||1,250||1931|
|Central Plaza||Hong Kong 🇭🇰||374||1,227||1992|
|Bank of China Tower||Hong Kong 🇭🇰||367||1,205||1990|
|85 Sky Tower||Kaohsiung 🇨🇳||348||1,140||1997|
|Aon Center||Chicago 🇺🇸||346||1,136||1973|
|The Center||Hong Kong 🇭🇰||346||1,135||1998|
|875 North Michigan Avenue||Chicago 🇺🇸||344||1,128||1969|
|Burj Al Arab||Dubai 🇦🇪||321||1,053||1999|
|Chrysler Building||New York City 🇺🇸||319||1,046||1930|
|Bank of America Plaza||Atlanta 🇺🇸||312||1,023||1992|
|U.S. Bank Tower||Los Angeles 🇺🇸||310||1,018||1990|
|The Franklin - North Tower||Chicago 🇺🇸||307||1,007||1989|
|JPMorgan Chase Tower||Houston 🇺🇸||305||1,002||1982|
|Baiyoke Tower II||Bangkok 🇹🇭||304||997||1997|
|Two Prudential Plaza||Chicago 🇺🇸||303||995||1990|
|Wells Fargo Plaza||Houston 🇺🇸||302||992||1983|
With the exception of the original World Trade Center towers in New York, all these iconic structures are still standing. Of course, there is now a much bigger cohort of skyscrapers sharing the skyline with them today.
20 Years of Supertall Skyscraper Construction
In the 21st century, at least one supertall skyscraper has been completed every year. In 2019 alone, the world built more of these incredible structures than the total that existed in 1999.
Here are the 20 tallest skyscrapers completed in the past 20 years:
|Building Name||City||Height (m)||Height (ft)||Completion|
|Burj Khalifa||Dubai 🇦🇪||828||2,717||2010|
|Shanghai Tower||Shanghai 🇨🇳||632||2,073||2015|
|Makkah Royal Clock Tower||Mecca 🇸🇦||601||1,972||2012|
|Ping An Finance Center||Shenzhen 🇨🇳||599||1,965||2017|
|Lotte World Tower||Seoul 🇰🇷||555||1,819||2017|
|One World Trade Center||New York City 🇺🇸||541||1,776||2014|
|Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre||Guangzhou 🇨🇳||530||1,739||2016|
|Tianjin CTF Finance Centre||Tianjin 🇨🇳||530||1,739||2019|
|CITIC Tower||Beijing 🇨🇳||528||1,731||2018|
|TAIPEI 101||Taipei 🇹🇼||508||1,667||2004|
|Shanghai World Financial Center||Shanghai 🇨🇳||492||1,614||2008|
|International Commerce Centre||Hong Kong 🇭🇰||484||1,588||2010|
|Lakhta Center||St. Petersburg 🇷🇺||462||1,516||2019|
|Vincom Landmark 81||Ho Chi Minh City 🇻🇳||461||1,513||2018|
|Changsha IFS Tower T1||Changsha 🇨🇳||452||1,483||2018|
|Suzhou IFS||Suzhou 🇨🇳||450||1,476||2019|
|Zifeng Tower||Nanjing 🇨🇳||450||1,476||2010|
|The Exchange 106||Kuala Lumpur 🇲🇾||445||1,460||2019|
|Guangzhou International Finance Center||Guangzhou 🇨🇳||439||1,439||2010|
With activity that reflects the country’s meteoric economic rise, China is an obvious point of focus in the skyscraper conversation. The world’s most populous nation been on a remarkable building tear in recent years, with activity spread throughout the country. No fewer than 30 Chinese cities added supertall skyscrapers to their skylines in the past two decades.
Vertical construction in the United States has been primarily focused in one of the original skyscraper hubs, New York City. In the long, storied history of skyscraper construction in New York City, it’s interesting to note that 8 of its 10 tallest buildings were built in the past 15 years.
Of course, no conversation about skyscrapers is complete without mentioning Dubai. No city on Earth can match the sheer magnitude of supertall skyscraper construction there—a remarkable feat considering the UAE’s size compared to the other two leaders, China and the United States. Over that past 20 years, Dubai added 23 supertall skyscrapers to its skyline, including four that are taller than the Empire State Building. Remarkably, there are another ten buildings under construction today that surpass the 300 meter mark.
What the Future Holds
The process from conceiving to completing supertall skyscrapers can take many years—especially as these ambitious structures reach higher into the sky. For example, the Ping An Finance Center in Shenzhen was first proposed in 2008, but not completed until 2017.
This multi-year process means that the pipeline of upcoming skyscrapers is very predictable. According to CTBUH, there are currently 132 supertall skyscrapers in various phases of construction around the world right now. That’s more than five times the number of existing supertall structures that existed at the dawn of the new millennium. This includes the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, which will be the first skyscraper to hit the one kilometer mark – shattering the record height set by the Burj Khalifa.
Over the next 20 years, as economic fortunes shift and architectural innovations advance, it remains to be seen what heights future skyscrapers will reach.
Sharpen Your Thinking with These 10 Powerful Cognitive Razors
Here are 10 razors, or rules of thumb, that help simplify decision-making, inspired by a list curated by the investor and thought leader Sahil Bloom.
Improve Your Decision-Making with These 10 Cognitive Razors
The average adult makes about 35,000 conscious decisions each day.
Given this sheer volume of choice, how do we ensure we’re making the right decisions, day in and day out, without becoming exhausted?
Using insights from investor and thought leader Sahil Bloom, this graphic shares 10 cognitive razors, or rules of thumb, that can help you simplify your decision-making.
We’ve organized Bloom’s favorite cognitive razors into three overarching categories, which we dive into in further detail below.
Location, Location, Location
The first theme is location, and the importance of being at the right place at the right time.
The Luck Razor falls into this category because it highlights the importance of putting yourself out there. According to the Luck Razor, when choosing between two paths, pick the one with the largest “luck surface area,” or the path that offers you the most opportunity to get lucky.
This is because when you’re networking, meeting people, and building new relationships, you’re much more likely to stumble upon an opportunity than if you were sitting on your couch, not taking action.
The Rooms Razor follows a similar theme because it emphasizes the importance of your surroundings. It stresses that, if you have a choice between two rooms to walk into, choose the one where you’re most likely to be the dumbest person in the room.
While it’s a bit of an uncomfortable situation, it provides a greater opportunity for growth, as long as you check your ego at the door and listen to what others have to say.
Lastly, the Arena Razor reminds us that when we want something, we need to take the necessary steps to make it happen.
For instance, if you want to become a social media influencer, you need to start creating content and posting it online. It’s not easy to put yourself out there and take action, but if you want to play the game, you need to be in the arena.
The Power of Positive Thinking
The next theme is the power of mindset and positive thinking. This relates to how you view your life, the people you choose to surround yourself with, and how you interpret the actions and opinions of others.
According to the Gratitude Razor, when in doubt, don’t hesitate to show your gratitude to people who have supported you, or given you advice or opportunities.
Research studies have shown that expressing gratitude and giving thanks can be correlated with greater happiness, improved health, and stronger more meaningful relationships. So make sure to say thank you regularly, and tell your loved ones how much you appreciate their support.
It’s not just your mindset that’s important, though. The Optimist Razor recommends surrounding yourself with optimists, rather than pessimists. Pessimists may point out everything that could go wrong in a scenario, which might discourage you to break out of your comfort zone.
Optimism, on the other hand, will emphasize everything that could go right—and may even help you problem solve if you encounter problems along the way.
Keep Decision-Making Simple, Silly
The last one is quite simple, really: don’t overcomplicate things.
Occam’s Razor, which is named after the 14th-century scholar Franciscan friar William of Ockham, is generally interpreted as the following: when faced with a decision between two competing theories that generate the same outcome, the simplest theory is often the best one.
As Bloom says in this blog post, “simple assumptions [over] complex assumptions. If you have to believe a complex, intertwined series of assumptions in order to reach one specific conclusion, always ask whether there is a simple alternative assumption that fits.”
The ability to make things simple is also a good indicator of how deeply you understand something. According to the Feynman Razor, if you can’t explain a concept simply, then you don’t really understand it. So, if someone uses a ton of jargon or complexity to explain something, they could be masking a lack of deeper knowledge on the topic.
Editor’s note: For more information on cognitive razors and simplifying your decision-making, check out Sahil Bloom’s newsletter, or listen to his podcast episode where he talks about the most powerful razors he’s discovered so far in life.
Every Mission to Mars in One Visualization
This graphic shows a timeline of every mission to Mars since 1960, highlighting which ones have been successful and which ones haven’t.
Timeline: A Historical Look at Every Mission to Mars
Within our Solar System, Mars is one of the most similar planets to Earth—both have rocky landscapes, solid outer crusts, and cores made of molten rock.
Because of its similarities to Earth and proximity, humanity has been fascinated by Mars for centuries. In fact, it’s one of the most explored objects in our Solar System.
But just how many missions to Mars have we embarked on, and which of these journeys have been successful? This graphic by Jonathan Letourneau shows a timeline of every mission to Mars since 1960 using NASA’s historical data.
A Timeline of Mars Explorations
According to a historical log from NASA, there have been 48 missions to Mars over the last 60 years. Here’s a breakdown of each mission, and whether or not they were successful:
|1||1960||Korabl 4||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|2||1960||Korabl 5||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|3||1962||Korabl 11||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|4||1962||Mars 1||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|5||1962||Korabl 13||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|6||1964||Mariner 3||US (flyby)||Failure|
|7||1964||Mariner 4||US (flyby)||Success|
|8||1964||Zond 2||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|11||1969||Mariner 6||US (flyby)||Success|
|12||1969||Mariner 7||US (flyby)||Success|
|15||1971||Mars 2 Orbiter/Lander||USSR||Failure|
|16||1971||Mars 3 Orbiter/Lander||USSR||Success/Failure|
|20||1973||Mars 6 Orbiter/Lander||USSR||Success/Failure|
|21||1973||Mars 7 Lander||USSR||Failure|
|22||1975||Viking 1 Orbiter/Lander||US||Success|
|23||1975||Viking 2 Orbiter/Lander||US||Success|
|24||1988||Phobos 1 Orbiter||USSR||Failure|
|25||1988||Phobos 2 Orbiter/Lander||USSR||Failure|
|27||1996||Mars Global Surveyor||US||Success|
|31||1998||Mars Climate Orbiter||US||Failure|
|32||1999||Mars Polar Lander||US||Failure|
|33||1999||Deep Space 2 Probes (2)||US||Failure|
|35||2003||Mars Express Orbiter/Beagle 2 Lander||ESA||Success/Failure|
|36||2003||Mars Exploration Rover - Spirit||US||Success|
|37||2003||Mars Exploration Rover - Opportunity||US||Success|
|38||2005||Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter||US||Success|
|39||2007||Phoenix Mars Lander||US||Success|
|40||2011||Mars Science Laboratory||US||Success|
|42||2013||Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution||US||Success|
|43||2013||Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)||India||Success|
|44||2016||ExoMars Orbiter/Schiaparelli EDL Demo Lander||ESA/Russia||Success/Failure|
|45||2018||Mars InSight Lander||US||Success|
|47||2020||Tianwen-1 Orbiter/Zhurong Rover||China||Success|
|48||2020||Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover||US||Success|
The first mission to Mars was attempted by the Soviets in 1960, with the launch of Korabl 4, also known as Mars 1960A.
As the table above shows, the voyage was unsuccessful. The spacecraft made it 120 km into the air, but its third-stage pumps didn’t generate enough momentum for it to stay in Earth’s orbit.
For the next few years, several more unsuccessful Mars missions were attempted by the USSR and then NASA. Then, in 1964, history was made when NASA launched the Mariner 4 and completed the first-ever successful trip to Mars.
The Mariner 4 didn’t actually land on the planet, but the spacecraft flew by Mars and was able to capture photos, which gave us an up-close glimpse at the planet’s rocky surface.
Then on July 20, 1976, NASA made history again when its spacecraft called Viking 1 touched down on Mars’ surface, making it the first space agency to complete a successful Mars landing. Viking 1 captured panoramic images of the planet’s terrain, and also enabled scientists to monitor the planet’s weather.
Vacation to Mars, Anyone?
To date, all Mars landings have been done without crews, but NASA is planning to send humans to Mars by the late 2030s.
And it’s not just government agencies that are planning missions to Mars—a number of private companies are getting involved, too. Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX has a long-term plan to build an entire city on Mars.
Two other aerospace startups, Impulse and Relativity, also announced an unmanned joint mission to Mars in July 2022, with hopes it could be ready as soon as 2024.
As more players are added to the mix, the pressure is on to be the first company or agency to truly make it to Mars. If (or when) we reach that point, what’s next is anyone’s guess.
Misc2 weeks ago
Visualizing Which Countries Drink the Most Beer
Demographics4 weeks ago
Ranked: The 20 Countries With the Fastest Declining Populations
Personal Finance2 weeks ago
Mapped: The Salary You Need to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Cities
Energy3 weeks ago
Visualizing the World’s Largest Oil Producers
Energy2 weeks ago
Which Countries Produce the Most Natural Gas?
Agriculture4 weeks ago
Timeline: The Domestication of Animals
Business3 weeks ago
Ranked: The World’s Largest Container Shipping Companies
Misc7 days ago
Brand Loyalty is Declining for Most Luxury Automakers