6 nov 08 | world-most.com

20 tallest buildings in the world currently under construction

Skyscrapers still reach for the skies.

Developers want to shrug off the current economic crisis, but the global downturn could yet quash future high-rise plans.

The global financial crisis seems to have done little to dampen the sky-high ambitions of architects and developers racing to build the world's tallest buildings. Even as the U.S. credit crunch spilled across the Atlantic and beyond, the skyscraper boom continued to escalate. At Cityscape, Dubai's annual real-estate trade show (Oct. 6-9), the government-backed property developer Nakheel unveiled new plans to build a $38 billion, 3,000-ft or 914.4 meters skyscraper in the city, dwarfing the most ambitious global projects to date in both size and cost.

The Nakheel announcement caps a decade-long tall-building boom. As technology, materials, and designs have become ever more sophisticated, the architects, engineers, and developers have rushed to begin building daring structures, transforming the definition of modern skyscrapers.

According to the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat, a nonprofit based at the Illinois Institute of Technology, some 36 buildings have reached heights of 1,000 ft or 304.8 Meters or more, meeting the definition of "supertall" structures. The council estimates that a further 69 supertall buildings are currently in construction.

Robust economies awash in petrodollars have led the trend, notably Russia and a handful of countries in the Middle East. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, the anticipated $1.4 billion Burj Dubai tower is already the world's tallest structure, even though construction is not expected to be completed until fall 2009.

Developed by Emaar Properties and designed by Chicago architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the vast tower will contain an Armani-styled luxury hotel and corporate office space as well as high-tech features like the world's fastest elevator. The building will be more than 1,000 ft. or 304.8 Meters higher than Chicago's Sears Tower, the tallest building in North America. In Russia, meanwhile, work has begun on the pyramid-like Russia Tower, designed by British architects Foster + Partners and large enough to accommodate 250,000 people.

Full Speed Ahead
Still, it remains unclear how current global economic woes will affect the supertall trend, and analysts believe a worldwide slowdown could yet quash future projects. By 2010, overall construction growth will be roughly halved in Latin America and the Middle East, to 6.4% and 3.7% respectively, estimates Scott Hazleton, director of construction services at research and investing firm Global Insight. He attributes the drop-off to both the economic slowdown and the saturation of building in these markets, and he points out that both figures handily outpace outright declines of -0.2% in Western Europe. "The scope of some projects may change," notes Hazleton. "But the Middle East in particular still has tons of cash reserves."

Indeed, most supertall projects are of such scale and complexity that many design details change during the years of construction. Confirmation of the final height and floor count of the Burj Dubai, for example, has been a closely held secret and has reportedly changed since construction began four years ago in hopes of maintaining the building's tallest status. The Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed Trump Tower Chicago, proposed in 2001 and now nearing completion, was initially intended to be the world's tallest building, but plans were scaled back after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

But around the world, planners have so far largely shrugged off the economic crisis at hand. At the unveiling of the Nakheel project earlier this month, Chris O'Donnell, the company's chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal the long-term scope of the project insulated it from yearly economic fluctuations. "The project will be built over 10 years, and we'll have many more [economic] cycles before then," he said. "The world will be a different place by the time it's built."

Dwarfing New York and Chicago
More certain are the sometimes stark differences buildings now in construction have with older skyscrapers. Whereas well-known edifices such as the Chrysler Building in New York were built as corporate icons containing offices, many new constructions in the Middle East and Asia are designed as mixed-use properties, often hosting luxury residences. New towers are being constructed with concrete and composite materials rather than steel--enabling new design possibilities, including unheard-of heights. "New skyscrapers are the opposite of the typical tall building of the past 100 years," says Antony Wood, executive director of the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat. "Materials, locations, and meanings have all changed."

That has left cities that were once pivotal in defining the urban landscape--notably New York and Chicago--with little to boast about. According to Wood, just two buildings in the U.S. are expected to be among the worlds tallest by the year 2020. Those include the graceful, twisting Chicago Spire designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, which broke ground last year and will reach some 2,000 ft (609.6 Meters) or 150 stories. One World Trade Center, designed by American architect David Childs, will also stand out when it is completed in 2013. But for now, it seems, height seekers will need to head east.

20 Soaring, Supertall Skyscrapers
Despite the financial crisis currently rippling through the global economy, the world is in the midst of an unprecedented skyscraper boom. Architects, engineers, and developers have raced to begin building towering structures, transforming the definition of modern skyscrapers. According to the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat, a nonprofit based at the Illinois Institute of Technology, some 36 buildings have reached heights of 1,000 ft. (304.8 Meters) or more, meeting the definition of "supertall" structures. The Burj Dubai, shown here, is currently the world's tallest building--and nearly 1,000 ft. (304.8 Meters) taller than the famed Sears Tower in Chicago.

It remains unclear how the current global economic issues will affect the supertall trend. But frozen credit markets in developed economies may not affect developments already in progress in locations such as the Middle East and Russia. Here, then, is the council's list of the 20 tallest buildings in the world currently under construction, from supertall to supertallest.

Data: Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat

No. 1: Nakheel Tower
Location: Dubai
Completion Year: 2020
Stories: 1,000-plus
Height: 3,281 ft.-plus or 1000.05 Meters
This mixed-use tower could potentially top out as the world's tallest building, though plans have gone through multiple permutations since the project was first proposed five years ago. The current project is being designed by architects Woods Bagot.

No. 2: Burj Dubai
Location: Dubai
Completion Year: 2009
Stories: 160-plus
Height: 2,600 ft.-plus or 792.48 Meters.
The final height of this--already the world's tallest building--has yet to be finalized. The $1.4 billion project is intended to anchor the rapid development of downtown Dubai. Inside, the tower's developers promise a number of gee-whiz features including an Armani-designed luxury hotel and the world's fastest elevator.

No. 3: Pentominium
Location: Dubai
Completion Year: 2012
Stories: 120
Height: 2,028 ft or 618.13 Meters.
The name of this luxury development blends the words "penthouse" and "condominium." Not surprising perhaps, given that the building will provide some of the most luxurious real estate in the world. The tower was designed by architecture firm Aedas.

No. 4: Russia Tower
Location: Moscow
Completion Year: 2012
Stories: 118
Height: 2,009 ft or 612.34 Meters.
Created by the British architects Foster + Partners, the triangular shape of this mixed-use tower evokes the ancient pyramids. The development will comprise a city within a building providing homes, shopping, and offices for some 250,000 people.

No. 5: Chicago Spire
Location: Chicago
Completion Year: 2012
Stories: 150
Height: 2,000 ft or 609.6 Meters.
The Chicago Spire was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who took cues for its look from nature, and says that inspiration for the residential building's shape came from the spiral forms smoke takes when rising into the air.

No. 6: Makkah Clock Royal Tower
Location: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Completion Year: 2010
Stories: 76
Height: 1,893 ft or 576.99 Meters
The clock affixed to the top of this tower in the Muslim holy city will be some five times larger than Big Ben in London. The majority of the structure will be occupied by a luxury hotel aimed at serving pilgrims with deep pockets.

No. 7: China 117 Tower
Location: Tianjin, China
Completion Year: 2013
Stories: 117
Height: 1,870 ft or 569.98 Meters.
This mixed-use tower will be China's tallest when it is completed. The structure, which is being developed by Chinese firm Matsunichi Hi-Tech, features a striking and ornate crown shape at its top.

No. 8: Doha Convention Center Tower
Location: Doha, Qatar
Completion Year: 2012
Stories: 112
Height: 1,808 ft or 551.08 Meters.
Attached to a 936,000-square-foot convention center, this tower is being developed by the real estate firm Qatari Diar to offer spectacular views of the booming city of Doha.

No. 9: World Trade Center One
Location: New York
Completion Year: 2013
Stories: 82
Height: 1,776 ft or 541.3 Meters.
The "Freedom Tower" was designed by American architect David Childs. The spire is intended to echo the Statue of Liberty's raised arm. The building's height makes reference to the year the U.S. declared its independence.

No. 10: Burj Al Alam
Location: Dubai
Completion Year: 2011
Stories: 108
Height: 1,674 ft or 510.2 Meters.
Designed by Japanese architects Nikken Sekkei, this tower's name translates into English as "World Tower." The building's "crown" top will contain gardens with views and an indoor Turkish bath.

No. 11: Busan Lotte Tower
Location: Busan, South Korea
Completion Year: 2013
Stories: 107
Height: 1,674 ft or 510.2 Meters.
This tower, designed by Korean firm Baum Architects, is at the heart of a new economic development zone in the port of Busan. The tower will primarily be composed of office and hotel space.

No. 12: International Commerce Center
Location: Hong Kong
Completion Year: 2010
Stories: 106
Height: 1,588 ft or 484.0 Meters.
The intended height of this office and hotel complex had to be scrapped to meet local regulations that do not permit buildings to reach higher than surrounding mountains. Still, when the building, designed by the New York-based architects Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, is completed in 2010, it will be the tallest building on Hong Kong Island.

No. 13: Nanjing Greenland Financial Center
Location: Nanjing, China
Completion Year: 2009
Stories: 69
Height: 1,476 ft or 449.8 Meters.
The interlocking forms at the center of this rising tower are intended to evoke China's traditional dancing dragon. The shape of the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-created structure is also designed to maximize the building's views of surrounding mountains.

No. 14: Kingkey Finance Tower
Location: Shenzhen, China
Completion Year: 2011
Stories: 97
Height: 1,440 ft or 438.9 Meters.
Created by the Britain-based architects Terry Farrell & Partners, this gleaming tower will feature mixed office and hotel space. The top floor will feature a glass-enclosed garden.

No. 15: Pearl River New City West Tower
Location: Guangzhou, China
Completion Year: 2009
Stories: 104
Height: 1,436 ft or 437.69 Meters.
This massive office and hotel development incorporates energy conservation into its design, including wind- and solar-powered generators. The project was designed by American architect Gordon Gill of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

No. 16: Dubai Towers Doha
Location: Doha, Qatar
Completion Year: 2010
Stories: 84
Height: 1,434 ft or 437.08 Meters.
Designed by the British architecture firm RMJM, this $620 million mixed-use project will include a shopping mall, a five-star hotel on 13 floors, as well as office and residential space.

No. 17: Trump International Hotel & Tower
Location: Chicago
Completion Year: 2009
Stories: 96
Height: 1,362 ft or 415.14 Meters.
Named after the American businessman, the Trump Tower Chicago was created by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The architects and Donald Trump initially proclaimed that the $650 million tower would become the world's tallest, but plans were scaled back after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

No. 18: Princess Tower
Location: Dubai
Completion Year: 2009
Stories: 101
Height: 1,358 ft or 413.92 Meters.
The Princess Tower, being built by the Dubai-based developer Tameer, is an over-the-top, ultra-luxury residence. Its lobby, for instance, will be ornamented with white gold.

No. 19: Marina 101
Location: Dubai
Completion Year: 2010
Stories: 101
Height: 1,352 ft or 412.09 Meters.
As its name suggests, the estimated $300 million Marina 101 will feature 101 floors of mixed hotel and residential space when it is finished. It was designed by the Dubai-based architecture firm National Engineering Bureau.

No. 20: Al Hamra Tower
Location: Kuwait City
Completion Year: 2010
Stories: 77
Height: 1,352 ft or 412.09 Meters.
This $950 million tower was designed by Chicago-based architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The building incorporates a striking curvilinear design that seems to envelop the tower's core section. Its facade is made entirely of glass.