The quest for height, visibility and splendour in the world of skyscrapers continued unabated in 2019, setting another record for the number of supertall buildings being completed in a single year.
China, in its relentless drive to develop its cities, dominated the category once again, with its Tianjin CTF Financer Centre becoming the tallest for the year at 530 metres.
«The year 2019 was remarkable for the tall building industry», declared the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) in its annual review of the category. «The appetite for especially tall buildings remains high, with more supertalls… completing than ever before, and the number of buildings 500 meters and taller remains about the same – 2019 was the sixth year in a row in which at least one such building was completed».
The number of completed buildings meeting this criterium – a height of 300 metres (984 feet) or more – reached 26, surpassing the previous record of 18 set last year, according to CTBUH, a non-profit organization that has become the de facto arbiter of this trend in architectural jousting.
And it predicts the record could be beaten again next year as up to 30 projects are set to be completed. Among them are the Shengjing Finance Plaza in Shenyang,China, which has 15 buildings in the complex, three of which completed in 2018. «The remainder are under construction and set to complete in 2020 – all but one exceeds 200 meters», says the CTBUH.
In the Middle East, the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is nearly complete with up to five buildings more than 200 metres in height, two of which entering the supertall category. In North America, New York City has 10 buildings at 200 metres or higher that are likely to be finished in 2020, two of which supertall.
Supertall buildigins: more than a status symbol
Supertall buildings and skyscrapers in general are the quintessential manifestation of architectural and engineering ingenuity.
But they are more than just a status symbol. They are a way for cities to reinvent – if not renew – themselves. By making the most of a relatively small patch of land, they help curb the impulse to expand beyond the periphery and create further sprawl.
There is an economic logic to them, too. By establishing themselves in a given neighbourhood, they increase the value of the surrounding buildings, encouraging further investment.
The Tianjin CTF Finance Centre, for instance, is in the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, an outer district of Tianjin, China. The 97-floor structure, with office space, luxury apartments and a hotel, will serve as an anchor for the development of the area. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP with China Construction Eighth Engineering Division as the main contractor, it is tied for the third-tallest building in China with its sister tower, the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, which also stands at 530 metres, according to CTBUH. It is also tied for being the seventh-tallest in the world. «This marks the fifth year in a row in which the tallest building to complete is in China», adds CTBUH.
As for buildings standing at 200 metres or higher, 126 of them were completed in 2019 – nearly half of them in China.
That helped give Asia (excluding the Middle East) the lead with 87 of the 126 completed buildings for the year.
The United States was second with 14, partly thanks to the redeveloped district on the west side of Manhattan called Hudson Yards and Manhattan West where buildings more than 200 metres in height have opened.
The United Arab Emirates came third with nine completed buildings at the designated height.