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Skyscraper construction sets another record in 2017

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s annual review finds a more diverse class of high rises opening across the globe.

September, 2016 cityscape of Shenzhen, China, which added a dozen buildings over 200 meters tall this past year.

The current global boom in tall buildings shows no signs of slowing. In its annual Tall Building Year in Review, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) found that more buildings 200 meters tall or greater were finished last year than any other year on record.

A total of 144 such structures were completed in 69 cities spread across 23 countries, part of a wave of tall towers, the fourth-straight record-setting year in terms of completions. Last year’s new tall towers set records across the globe as well: new tallest buildings took shape in 28 cities and 8 countries.

“The data from 2017 shows a continuation of the trend towards a greater global proliferation of skyscraper construction,” CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood said in a statement. “High-rise construction is no longer confined to a select few financial and business centers, but rather is becoming the accepted global model for densification as more than one million people on our planet urbanize each week. Thirteen cities saw their first 200-meter-plus high-rise completion in 2017, in addition to the 28 cities and eight countries that saw their tallest building completed this year.”

The U.S. completed 10 such structures, including four in New York, two in Chicago, and the record-setting Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles. This new class of skyscrapers forms the bulk of North America’s 17 new towers, representing 10.4 percent of the worldwide total.

But as has been the case for years, Asia, specifically China, was the center of the action. Chinese construction projects added 76 new skyscrapers, representing 53 percent of the global total. The city of Shenzhen, which added 12 new buildings, accounted for 8.3 percent of the worldwide total, more than any country outside of China.

One of the most interesting trends noted in the CTBUH review was the shift in type and purpose. While traditionally geared towards all-office or mixed-use, high-rise construction added a higher-than-normal number of all-residential towers in 2017. Forty-nine such completions occurred last year, representing 34 percent of the total, compared to just 15 percent in 2016. All-office layouts also became less popular, dropping to 39 percent of completions from 52 percent last year.

It is tempting to speculate that we are now seeing the built results of a full-blown recovery from the 2008 economic crisis, as greater confidence in single-function programs sparks a resurgence in speculative residential development,” Steve Watts, CTBUH Chairman, said in a statement.