Height explosion: 2019 sets new record for “supertall” buildings

2019 has seen a new record for "supertall" buildings – 300m or higher – with 26 completed in the period, a big hike from last year’s record of 18, according to the annual report of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), published 12 December.

And while China still takes the lion’s share of all skyscrapers built on the planet (200m or higher), this year saw a drop of 38%: 57 finished in 2019, down from 92 in 2018.

The total number of skyscrapers also fell to 126, down from 146 in 2018, 142 in 2017, and 134 in 2016.

The 530-metre Tianjin CTF Finance Centre in China (pictured) was the tallest building completed in 2019.

Despite the dip over all, the CTBUH noted the worldwide explosion in building heights. The total number of supertall buildings is now 170. In 2013, there were 76 such buildings and in 2000, only 26.

"This is the fifth year in a row that a building over 500 meters has been completed, which is a remarkable accomplishment for the building industry – it was only 15 years ago that such buildings didn’t exist," said CTBUH chief executive Antony Wood.

Asia overall contributed 87 of the 126 skyscraper completions, for a 69% share. That is down from 110 completions for a 75.3% share in 2018.

The height explosion: Number of skyscrapers cmpleted per year since 1979 (CTBUH)

The US was again the second-most prolific country, with 14 completions, for 11% of 2019’s total.

It was followed by the United Arab Emirates, with nine completions, down from 10 in 2018. The Middle East overall recorded 11 completions, down from 13 in 2018.

Malaysia and India tied at seven completions, and the Philippines had five. In 2018, Malaysia also recorded seven completions, India had zero, and the Philippines had one completion.

At the city scale, Shenzhen, China was once again the world champion, besting its own record for the fourth time in a row, with 15 completions, for 11.9% of the global total, surpassing all other countries besides China. The next-most prolific city was Dubai, with nine completions.

Africa gained a new tallest building: the Great Mosque of Algiers (265m) in Algeria. At the bottom of the continent, The Leonardo (227m) became South Africa’s new tallest building, and the second-tallest building on the continent.

Europe also gained a new tallest building – the Lakhta Center (462m) in St. Petersburg.

Brazil completed the Infinity Coast Tower (235m), the country’s first building to exceed 200m.

It is too early to tell if the tall building craze will continue or fade. CTBUH projects the number of completions in 2020 to be between 115 and 145. Of these, between 17 and 30 are expected to be supertalls.

Read the report here. 

Top image: The 530-meter Tianjin CTF Finance Centre in Tianjin, China was the tallest building completed in 2019 (Lincolnlover2005/CC BY-SA 4.0) 

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