This past year was a record-breaking season for skyscraper construction. According to a new survey by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), 2014 saw the completion of 97 buildings that were at least 200 meters tall. Of those, 11 were 300 meters or taller, earning them the classification of “supertall.” These are the highest figures on record, with 2011, for example, seeing only 87 200-meters-plus buildings completed.
In addition, in 2014 the total height of completed buildings (23,333 meters) broke the 2011 record of 19,852 meters. With major countries like China becoming increasingly urbanized, and the world economy recovering from recession, the CTBUH expects that these numbers will only increase. See the details of CTBUH’s report, and learn what the numbers may predict about the future of skyscraper construction, after the break.
The report reveals that since 2000 there has been a 352% increase in the number of 200-meter-plus buildings, with China contributing significantly to that number. For the past seven years, China has dominated in the number of buildings at or above 200 meters being constructed, with 58 completed in China alone in 2014. This accounts for 60% of the 200-meter-plus buildings built in 2014, with Asia itself holding 74 (or 76%) of the 97 buildings completed during the year. The Philippines earned a distant second place with five skyscrapers completed, while the UAE and Qatar tied at third place with four completed buildings each. The US took home fourth place with three completions (tying with Japan, Indonesia, and Canada), but earned the distinction of building the tallest building of 2014—the One World Trade Center in New York City, which is supertall at 541 meters, and is the third tallest building of all time.
Out of the 97 buildings completed this year, 52 (54%) used composite construction, a 20% increase from last year’s survey. Thirty-seven (38%) used concrete, which was a 21% decline from 2013. Exclusively steel construction saw a surprising 2% increase from last year, with 5% of 200-meter-plus buildings using only steel. These trends are likely tied to the prevalence of office buildings constructed this year. Of the 97 buildings recorded in the survey, 47 of them were strictly for offices. An additional 26 were classified as mixed-use, which would incorporate offices as well. Traditionally, these spaces require large floors without columns. In the past, steel could fulfill that requirement quite well. In modern construction, however, concrete’s fire resistance and rigidity have made it a valuable addition to steel frame buildings, often forming the building’s core or forming part of its exoskeleton.
Why, then, the increase in steel construction in 2014? The answer is dependent on location and designer. Three of the five steel buildings are in Japan, and one is in Taiwan. Both countries experience regular seismic activity, and the construction requirements to ensure a building’s safety during such activity are easier to fulfill using steel. The last project, the London Leadenhall Building, is the work of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. The need for prefabricated elements in this design made steel the best structural choice. Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners is also extremely well known for their use of steel exoskeletons.
The CTBUH expects this year to be even more active, with a projected range of 105 to 130 buildings to be completed in 2015. China is once again predicted to dominate, with an estimated 106 projects of 200 meters or taller planned for completion. The increase is thought to be a product of the recovering economy-- many of the projects completed in 2014 were conceived before the 2008 recession, as were many more that will be completed this year. It is argued that in some places, this skyscraper boom may be the product of the misallocation of wealth that caused the recession in the first place.
Whatever the reason, the world is about to receive a number of new and exciting skyscrapers in 2015. Shanghai’s Shanghai Tower will top out at 632 meters in 2015, making it the tallest building in China, and the second-tallest in the world. February will see winners announced for the US Department of Agriculture’s Tall Wood Building Prize, which many hope will inspire serious innovation with wood as an urban building material. Cities from Las Vegas to Moscow are expected to complete towers that have been under construction for years, and many additional skyscrapers are expected to be proposed and planned.
To read more on this year’s 200-meter-plus building review, visit the CTBUH’s interactive website here!