The top floor of the 108-storey China Zun commands a view of Beijing’s Central Business District and far beyond it. Rising 528 metres, the new skyscraper is 190 metres higher than the China World Trade Center III, taking its place as Beijing’s tallest structure.
The CITIC Tower – as the China Zun is officially called – also holds another record: it is the tallest of the 18 “supertall” skyscrapers completed in 2018. “Supertall” exceeds 300 metres in height.
Last year saw the largest number of this type of building be built in a single year, according to an annual report by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), a non-profit organisation. The report offers an interesting look at one of the greatest expressions of modern architecture and engineering, where buildings are not only examples of innovation and sustainability, but also physical expressions of a city’s desire to excel.
In 2018 - as certified by the CTBUH - 143 skyscrapers with a height of more than 200 metres were completed. That is a combined length exceeding 35 kilometres – longer than the island of Manhattan.
This boom is sign of a growing trend in cities as the world becomes more urban. Skyscrapers respond to a need for housing and commercial space. CTBUH Chief Executive Anthony Wood estimates a new city capable of hosting one million people needs to be built every week in order to meet the global demand.
Beijing’s CITIC Tower, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associated, ranks sixth on the chart of the world’s tallest buildings. At a height of 828 metres, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is still the tallest. The CITIC Tower has nevertheless been chosen for the CTBUH’s Award of Excellence in the Best Tall Building category for heights of 400 metres and above. It is a prestigious award in civil engineering.
Although China’s “supertalls” compete with one another for the latest record, a special place on the podium belongs to New York City, where the skyscraper was born and bred. In 2018, the Big Apple confirmed its passion for skyscrapers with the completion of eight towers rising more than 200 metres, a considerable number for a skyline that never stops changing. The two most high-profile projects are the World Trade Center and the Hudson Yards.
The first concerns the reconstruction of the area where the Twin Towers were located until September 11, 2001. In 2018, construction of Tower 3 of the new World Trade Center was completed. Construction of Tower 5 has begun, while the Tower 2 project was redesigned and work has yet to begin.
The Hudson Yards, meanwhile, is the largest private real estate project in the United States. Located in the Chelsea district, this $20-billion complex is still in the works. Two of the six planned skyscrapers have been finished, while three others should be inaugurated in 2019, and the last one in the 2022.
Where Skyscrapers flourish
China remained the world’s biggest skyscraper enthusiast in 2018, with the highest number of skyscrapers completed as it continues its incredible urban transformation. Shenzhen leads the way, followed by Beijing and Shenyang.
Last year, China built 88 towers that exceed 200 metres in height. Far behind came the United States (13 buildings), followed by the United Arab Emirates (10), Malaysia (7), Indonesia (5), and Thailand and South Korea with three each.
Thailand achieved a new national record with the construction of Bangkok’s 315-metre Magnolias Waterfront Residences Tower 1. So did Vietnam, where Vincom Landmark 81 in Ho Chi Minh City became the country’s tallest building at 461 metres.
Overall, 19 cities around the world erected record-setting skyscrapers last year, conquering previously unreached heights.