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Checking the Vital Signs of the World's Planned Mega-Projects

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If the economic downturn threw a wrench into the development machine back in 2008, that machine has been successfully restarted in recent years, as record-breaking projects have started up or, in some cases, restarted, while a few grand projects have been left to collect dust. Much of the new development is occurring in what used to be called the developing world, like India, where the India Tower was planned for Mumbai. Slated become the tallest residential building in the world, the Norman Foster-designed spire was set to top out at 2,321 feet, but construction, which began in 2010, halted last year due to financial problems. Still, the project has not been totally abandoned, with the developers merely pushing back the completion date to late 2016.

? China has been building tall skyscrapers at a furious pace, so much so that it has inspired a skyscraper arms race of sorts between Chinese cities. When development officials in Wuhan discovered that their pride and joy, the 1,988-foot Greenland Center was set to be surpassed by the none-too-creatively named Shanghai Tower (above), they altered the plans to add almost 100 feet to the tower. Both are set to be completed in 2014, with the Greenland Center now slated to become the tallest building in the world after Dubai's Burj Khalifa.

? Meanwhile, stateside, big things have been happening in NYC, with the skyline-altering residential tower known as One 57 commanding both the title of tallest residential building in the city and some of the highest prices ever paid for apartments in the Big Apple. The 1,004-foot concrete and steel tower boasts an undulating glass facade meant to evoke a waterfall and all-encompassing aerial views of Central Park, the Midtown skyline, and all the little people who can't afford to live so high. Sales have already begun in earnest, so it is safe to label this one a post-recession success.

? For all the fanfare, One 57 will hold a very brief reign as the tallest residential building in Manhattan, as the boxy skyscraper planned for the former Drake Hotel site will come in at some 1,395 feet, taller than the Empire State Building, if the spire is not taken into account. Known simply as 432 Park Avenue, the squared-off giant will occupy a site that sat completely vacant, and open to speculation, for the duration economic downturn.

? For all the talk of building up, there's been little in the way of more terrestrial mega-projects, except in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, where the oil-rich government has commissioned a massive cultural improvement district headlined by starchitect-designed buildings. In late 2011, the Financial Times reported that the "a branch of the Louvre designed by Jean Nouvel, a Guggenheim by Frank Gehry, a national museum by Norman Foster and in collaboration with the British Museum. The second phase of the project includes a Maritime Museum designed by Tadao Ando and a performing arts centre by Zaha Hadid." That's all well and good, but at the same time FT claimed the project's was in jeopardy of being slashed thanks to a financial review. Well that trouble seems to be over, as the Saadiyat Island project continues to rise above the desert.

· India Tower [The Skyscraper Center]
· Chinese Tower May Add Floors To Become World’s Tallest After Burj Khalifa [Bloomberg]
· One 57 [Curbed NY]
· NYC's New Tallest Tower Will Look Something Like This [Curbed NY]
· Saadiyat Island [official site]