The Tallest 20 in 2020: Entering the Era of the Megatall by CTBUH

Tallest Skyline ©

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat recently published The Tallest 20 in 2020: Entering the Era of the Megatall. Within this decade, the World’s first kilometer-tall building will be constructed, along with many other buildings over 600-meters tall. “The term “supertall” (which refers to a building over 300 meters) is thus no longer adequate to describe these buildings: we are entering the era of the “megatall.”

Continue reading for more details on “The Tallest 20 in 2020″.

At the start of the 21st century, the 452-meter high Petronas Tower held the title of “The World’s Tallest”. As the decade ended, the Burj Khalifa took ownership of the title standing “over half a mile” high at 828-meters. Now, construction set to begin this month for Jeddah’s 1,000+ meter Kingdom Tower, doubling the height of “The World’s Tallest” in only two decades. It seems that “600m seems to be the new 300m”.

Annual Completion Totals © CTBUH

Check out this skyline diagram illustrating the growing trend of each decade. At the end of 2011, there were only 61 buildings over 300 meters.

Tallest by Decade © CTBUH

“Tallest 20 in 2020” is scattered across 15 cities in 7 countries. China leads the way, claiming 10 of the 20 projects in their pursuit of the supertall, followed by Korea (3), Saudi Arabia (2) and the UAE (2). Asia counts for 70% (14) of the buildings and the Middle East counts for 25% (5).

Tallest Breakdown © CTBUH

China’s Shenzhen’s Ping An Finance Center is scheduled for completion in 2015. The 660-meter tall building will become the tallest in the country, offering over 300,000 m2 of office space.

Ping An Finance Center © KPF

Standing at 632-meters, the mixed-use Shanghai Tower will join a supertall cluster in the city’s Pudong area. The project began construction in 2009 and will be completed in 2014.

Shanghai Tower © Gensler

The three megatall buildings planned in Korea will all be located in Seoul. The tallest, measuring at 640-meters, is the Seoul Light DMC Tower on the western edge of the city overlooking Han River.

Seoul Light DMC © SOM, Giroud Pichot

Also currently under construction is the 555-meter, supertall Lotte World Tower, set for completion in 2015. Two other structures, the 620-meter Triple One and the 540-meter Hyundai Global Business Center, have yet to receive planning permission and therefore were not included in this study, proving this list of supertall is quickly expanding.

Lotte World Tower © KPF

Towering above Indonesia’s current tallest tower, the Wisma 46 at 262 meters, is The Signature Tower Jakarta that will rise to 638-meters.

Signature Tower © SRSSA

Located near the old WTC buildings, One World Trade Center Tower in New York City is set to be the tallest building in the western hemisphere in 2013 at the height of 541-meters.


The CTBUH article concludes asking, “The question for humanity is thus no longer “how high can we build?” but “how high should we build?” Both the benefits and consequences must be considered, as energy implications have us questioning this new building typology.

“Just as we pushed the structural boundaries of height, we must now continue to push the boundaries of environmental engineering in order to progress the tall typology. For, as skyscrapers continue to multiply, their effect on our cities – visually, urbanistically, and environmentally – continues to increase exponentially.”

Special thanks to CTBUH for sharing this information with us. Follow this link to view the original article.

Reference: CTBUH

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "The Tallest 20 in 2020: Entering the Era of the Megatall by CTBUH" 05 Jan 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 May 2015. <>
  • Scott Sowers

    I always wonder what is the driving force for these kinds of buildings, ego or market?

    • Andrei

      Well Scott, I think that the real driving force is famine of others, depleting our own ressources, oligopoly, insanity of leaders and the list may continue..

  • D’Maverick

    The answer? It’s both ego and market. Add to that a big ambition with a desire to be always at the top….or the tallest.

  • Bradley Lin

    Taipei 101 is in Taiwan and it’s not part of China, even in 2020

    • dfb

      Taiwan’s real name is Republic of China. While China’s real name is People’s Republic of China.

  • Pingback: ARCH – Entering the Era of the Megatall by CTBUH | StudioLab

  • Paul

    Oddly enough, I think on the evidence you would have to say the market is the dominant factor in the design of most of these. I mean, true, it does take an amazing level of self regard to commit to building one of these things. But if you look at the comparative elevation drawings, only the Burj Khalifa has the spindly, needle-like appearance you would expect of a megatall building built for show. (And as a result I think it’s by far the best looking.) All of the others have MASSIVE floor plates that I imagine are an attempt to justify the cost, because they’re almost certainly too big to be efficient.

  • Ben Dover

    For me it is the adult version of the teenage boys game of ‘who got the biggest’; boyish,infantile and rather childish but in a multi-million dollar kind of way. I guess boys will boys…

  • williamchung7

    Where is India Tower?

    • MySchizoBuddy

      According to wikipedia it’s construction was stopped in 2011.

  • Nathaniel

    India Tower was not included as it did not comply with the criteria of the study.

    • Steve

      Yeah, like being worthwhile for study.
      Not much in India is.

  • Nathaniel

    India Tower was not included as it did not comply with the criteria of the study.

  • Pingback: From up here | things magazine