The Global Rush to Build New Skyscrapers

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The Global Rush to Build New Skyscrapers

The Global Rush to Build New Skyscrapers

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As the creator of today’s visualization, Alberto Lucas López, points out, “the world’s tallest buildings have acted as barometers”.

Another way of putting it? Our biggest architectural accomplishments are highly visible symbols of what society values most, and those values have changed over time. Today, the paramount belief system in many parts of the world is in capitalism, and there is no more potent marker of the economic might than fantastically tall commercial skyscrapers.

Today’s visualization is an effective way to take in the mind-bending scale of the newest generation of megatall buildings. It’s headlined by Jeddah Tower, a skyscraper currently under construction in Saudi Arabia that will smash the one kilometer mark when it’s completed in 2019.

Cities are Growing Up

In general, only very large cities have the resources to build and support extremely tall buildings.

With the explosion of urbanization around the world and developing economies asserting themselves in high profile ways, the stage is set for a global skyscraper boom.

skyscraper construction stats

In the last two years, 39 skyscrapers taller than 300m have been constructed, with five of the them eclipsing the height of the Empire State Building.

Global skyscraper construction has increased a whopping 402% since 2000.

High-rise Hot Spots

Nearly every sizeable Chinese city has skyscrapers under construction, and the numbers are staggering. Since 2012, China has added 38 skyscrapers over 300m (~1,000 ft) in height, and there are another 16 skyscrapers on the way in 2018.

In particular, the Pearl River Delta megaregion, which is anchored by Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, has seen an astonishing commercial construction boom. Today, 20 of the 100 tallest buildings on earth are located in just this one urban megaregion of China.

China’s Top 10 Tallest Buildings

Building NameCityHeight (m)CompletedUse
Shanghai TowerShanghai6322015hotel / office
Ping An Finance CenterShenzhen599.12017office
Guangzhou CTF Finance CentreGuangzhou5302016hotel / res / office
Shanghai World Financial CenterShanghai4922008hotel / office
International Commerce CentreHong Kong4842010hotel / office
Zifeng TowerNanjing4502010hotel / office
KK100Shenzhen441.82011hotel / office
Guangzhou International Finance CenterGuangzhou438.62010hotel / office
Jin Mao TowerShanghai420.51999hotel / office
Two International Finance CentreHong Kong4122003office

In total, 46 of the world’s 100 tallest skyscrapers are now located in China, and that number is sure to increase in coming years.

United Arab Emirates
Construction has been relentless in UAE for decades, and much of that development has been vertically-oriented. Today, Dubai is home to nearly 1,000 high-rise buildings, and there are 13 projects currently under construction that will hit or exceed the 300m mark.

UAE’s Top 10 Tallest Buildings

Building NameCityHeight (m)CompletedUse
Burj KhalifaDubai8282010hotel / res / office
Marina 101Dubai4252017residential / hotel
Princess TowerDubai413.42012residential
23 MarinaDubai392.42012residential
Burj Mohammed Bin RashidAbu Dhabi381.22014residential
Elite ResidenceDubai380.52012residential
The Address BoulevardDubai3702017res / hotel / retail
Almas TowerDubai3602008office
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Tower 1Dubai355.42012hotel
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Tower 2Dubai355.42013hotel

While the skylines of many European cities are conspicuously low-rise, an exception to that rule is in Moscow’s International Business Centre, where four 300m+ towers have been completed since 2012.

Russia’s Top 10 Tallest Buildings

Building NameCityHeight (m)CompletedUse
Vostok TowerMoscow373.82016residential / office
OKO - Residential TowerMoscow353.62015residential / hotel
Mercury City TowerMoscow338.82013residential / office
Stalnaya VershinaMoscow308.92015res / hotel / office
Capital City Moscow TowerMoscow301.82010residential
Naberezhnaya Tower Block CMoscow268.42007office
Triumph PalaceMoscow264.12005residential / hotel
Capital City St. Petersburg TowerMoscow257.22010office
Evolution TowerYekaterinburg2462015residential
Zapad TowerMoscow242.52008residential / office

What about the United States?

In the early 20th century, the United States was the undisputed champion of skyscraper construction, but that has tapered off dramatically. In fact, only six commercial towers over 300m have been constructed in the last 20 years.

The exception may be the city that started it all: New York. There are currently 30 skyscrapers under construction in NYC, fueled in part by a red-hot luxury real estate market.

America’s Top 10 Tallest Buildings (Under Construction)

Building NameCityHeight (m)Target DateUse
Central Park TowerNew York City472.42020res / hotel / retail
111 West 57th StreetNew York City435.32019residential
One VanderbiltNew York City4272021office
30 Hudson YardsNew York City386.62019office
Vista TowerChicago362.92020residential / hotel
Comcast Technology CenterPhiladelphia341.72018office / hotel
3 World Trade CenterNew York City328.92018residential / hotel
Salesforce TowerSan Francisco326.12018office
9 DeKalb AvenueNew York City324.92020office
53 West 53rdNew York City3202019res / office / retail

Philadelphia and San Francisco will soon have new additions to their skylines as Comcast and Saleforce complete their flagship construction projects. If current construction numbers are any indication, America’s love affair with the skyscraper may be reignited in urban centers across the country.

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