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Matt Rosenberg

Tallest Buildings of the Future

By July 15, 2012

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Burj Khalifa - World's Tallest BuildingIt is fascinating to me to regularly look at the list of the future tallest buildings in the world published by The Skyscraper Center. Take a look at the list and note that if all of the proposed buildings on the list are built, that the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa in Dubai will become the world's second tallest building in 2018. However, it is the world's current second tallest building, Taipei 101, built not that long ago in 2004 that will plummet on the list of the world's tallest buildings over the next few years. In just four years, Taipei 101 will be shadowed by more than a dozen newer and taller buildings under construction now or proposed. Most of these new tallest buildings will be built in China and the completion of One World Trade Center in 2014 in New York City will also contribute to Taipei 101's slipping on the rankings. Remember Petronas Towers, which serves as the world's tallest buildings from 1998 to Taipei 101's completion in 2004? They reigned for a mere six years and today they tie for fifth place on the world ranking of tallest buildings. Within a decade they will be ranked in the mid-30s. Incredible, no?

This intense global competition to build the world's tallest building is a fleeting dream, usually eclipsed by another taller building that opens within a few years. Burj Khalifa will likely only maintain the top spot a total of for eight years or so, until the proposed Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia is complete just six years from now. While super-tall buildings are an amazing testament to the power of human ingenuity, are they really necessary? There has been much written about the inability to fill Burj Khalifa since its opening, a recent news story on the world's tallest building reports that it is approximately 80% occupied. The Burj Khalifa serves as a remarkable landmark in the desert of the United Arab Emirates but it makes me uncomfortable when I think of all the effort and cost of constructing it compared to the needs of millions, if not billions, of humans on our planet.

(Photo: The Burj Khalifa is currently the world's tallest building at 2717 feet. It is likely to be eclipsed by 2018 by the Kingdom Tower at 3281 feet. Getty Images.)


July 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm
(1) Don Hirschberg says:

… are they really necessary? …it makes me uncomfortable when I think of all the effort and cost of constructing it compared to the needs of millions, if not billions, of humans…

They are monuments. If they were necessary they would not be monuments and would not have been built. During the Middle Ages Cathedrals were built at fantastic cost during times when only Kings and Prices lived under halfway decent conditions. Consider the Taj Mahal, Egypt’s pyramids, the aptly named Washington Monument and not too long ago every county seat was a handsome tall building to be proud of, – and churches had tall towers or domes.

If I had a billion dollars which I could use to build a monument or distribute to the teeming needy I’d opt to build the monument. If we say there are 5 billion needy people they would each get 20 cents. But building the monument would at least employ some local people.

July 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm
(2) Katey Capps says:

OMG its the future!!!!

July 16, 2012 at 8:54 pm
(3) Brian L says:

Great list Matt. In response to the previous poster: There are quite a few examples out there that cities/countries/companies that build these super-tall skyscrapers usually are at the cusp of an economic bubble. Indeed, they are monuments. In many countries, they later become white elephants.

July 17, 2012 at 1:19 am
(4) Nichole G says:

“If we say there are 5 billion needy people they would each get 20 cents.”

- If you wanted to give to charity, you could do it in a much better way than that. Just because you chose a horrible division equation doesn’t mean charity is pointless.

July 17, 2012 at 2:00 am
(5) Don Hirschberg says:

Come on Nicole, don’t you like my (hypothetically) giving out100%? What is your much better way?

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