Mega-Tall Skyscrapers Herald Economic Depression, Says Barclays

Kingdom Tower. Image © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

The world economy has endured a series of crises over the past century, and architecture has recently been recognized as a harbinger of these crises. Two years ago, British group Barclays released an index of skyscraper construction projects that correlate with the occurrence of economic downturns since 1873. Many of the tallest buildings in the world have been built at times of severe economic struggle, the most recent being Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, built during the Great Recession of 2007 through 2010. According to Barclays, “the world’s tallest buildings are simply the edifice of a broader skyscraper building boom, reflecting a widespread misallocation of capital and an impending economic correction.”

All the major financial crises in the past century, and the buildings that predicted them after the break…

If this holds true, then global markets are about to take another serious blow. This article by Business Insider tells us that next week, construction will begin on Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Set to become the world’s tallest building, Kingdom Tower is 568 feet taller than Burj Khalifa, the current record holder. The cost is expected to be $1.23 billion. If Barclays is correct, such a massive “misallocation” of wealth can only mean equally massive economic consequences.

See the full Barclay Skyscraper Index below for a look at all the major financial crises of the past 100 years, and the buildings that predicted them.

The Barclays Skyscraper Index. Image Courtesy of Business Insider
Cite: Walker, Connor. "Mega-Tall Skyscrapers Herald Economic Depression, Says Barclays" 05 May 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • Rob

    Jeddah is not in Dubai….It’s in Saudi Arabia.

    • Karissa Rosenfield

      You are correct! The article has been updated.

  • Kai

    I mean, come on! What is this, amateur hour?!
    Jeddah is in Dubai now?

  • Philip

    This probably says more about the banking industry and the ‘quality’ of their investment advice than anything to do with architecture and building. I am sure a similar graph of beer consumption, petrol sales, paper-book edition best sellers Hollywood movies set against ‘depressions’ will also produce ‘useful’ graphs as well. At 1.3 billion this is a quarter of the price or so of the new royal Navy aircraft carrier or in some cases single fighter jets. Let the bankers do a decent days work for their bonuses rather than wasting time on this rubbish

    • Eric in Colorado

      Yes, other correlations can likely be made, but why would that be of interest to people reading an Architecture web site? Have a look from down off your throne.