A towering year for supertall skyscrapers: CTBUH's Year in Review
Each year, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) conducts a review of tall building trends. It turns out that 2019 was an excellent year for fans of very tall buildings, with the most ever supertall skyscrapers – that is, buildings over 300 m (984 ft) in height – completed.
There were a total of 26 supertall skyscrapers completed in 2019, which is up from 18 last year, and brings the overall total to 170. The tallest building to be completed worldwide was the Tianjin CTF Finance Centre, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which measures 530 m (1,738 ft) in height and is now the joint third-tallest building in China, along with the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)-designed Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre. KPF's 387-m (1,270-ft)-tall 30 Hudson Yards is the tallest building in the USA to be completed this year.
Aside from the supertalls, out of the 126 total skyscrapers over 200 m (656 ft) that were completed this year, China boasts the most, with a total of 57. The United States comes second, with 14, while the United Arab Emirates is in third place with 11. As far as cities go, Shenzhen is once again the world leader in tall building construction, with an incredible 15 completed skyscrapers over the 200 m (656 ft) mark. Dubai came second with nine towers in total.
However, while there are more supertall skyscrapers than ever this year, it's worth noting that the total number of towers over 200 m (656 ft) that were completed is actually down compared with last year's 146.
"It is tempting to read the noticeable drop in completions, particularly in China, as a sign of the effect of proximate events, such as the trade negotiations with the United States, or as the harbinger of a recession," reads CTBUH's report. "It is well-documented that many of China’s tall building projects were financed with high levels of debt, and that in recent years the government has attempted to rein in speculative building and investing. Certainly, the overall momentum of construction on the very tallest buildings in the world’s most populous nation appears to have slowed on a year-to-year basis. However, as always, it must be remembered that skyscrapers are lagging economic indicators - many of these towers were conceived and initiated five or more years ago, and thus reflect the development circumstances of a half-decade prior."
Some continent-wide records were broken in 2019 too. Africa received a new tallest building in the form of Algeria's Great Mosque of Algiers, which rises to 265 m (869 ft), while the Lakhta Center is now both Russia and Europe's tallest building, at 462 m (1,515 ft).
Zaha Hadid Architects' Leeza Soho, which was one of our picks for best buildings of 2019, came in for special praise by CTBUH as a remarkable project, as did SOM's already mentioned Tianjin CTF Finance Centre, and 53West53, by Ateliers Jean Nouvel.
Looking forward to 2020, CTBUH currently expects between 115 and 145 buildings over 200 m (656 ft) to be completed. Of these, it says up to 30 will be supertalls.