A record year for tall buildings

One World Trade Center was the tallest building completed in 2014
One World Trade Center was the tallest building completed in 2014

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) reports that 2014 was, structurally speaking, the world’s tallest year. A record 97 buildings measuring 200 meters or taller were built around the world last year. The previous record was held by the 81 tall buildings completed in 2011.

The CTBUH report notes that 2014 didn’t just feature a record number of new tall buildings. It established a new standard for total completed height as well. Placed end-to-end, the 97 tall buildings of 2014 would measure more than 23 kilometers (14.5 miles), surpassing the 2011 record by more than 17 percent.

While the tallest building completed in 2014 was New York City’s One World Trade Center (541 meters), seventy-four of the 97 newest tall buildings were built in Asia, with an amazing 58 of them calling China home. Following China were the Philippines with five, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar with four, and the United States, Japan, Indonesia, and Canada with three.

The CTUBH ranks buildings according to three different criteria:

  • The distance to the architectural top is the primary criterion used to classify tall buildings. This is the distance from the “lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the architectural top of the building.” The architectural top includes spires but not antennae, flagpoles, and similar features.
  • The highest occupied floor measurement stops at the highest floor that hosts occupants.
  • The height to tip criterion measures to the very highest part of the building, including antennae, flagpoles, and other functional or technical equipment.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat defines a supertall building as one higher than 300 meters and a megatall building as more than 600 meters tall. A tall building, however, has no numerical definition. Instead, a tall building must feature (1) a height that is appreciable relative to those of other nearby buildings, (2) a slender aspect ratio, and/or (3) use of technologies that are specific to tall buildings, like elevators and structural wind bracing.

According to the CTBUH, the world’s ten tallest buildings currently are:

  1. Burj Khalifa, Dubai
  2. Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, Mecca
  3. One World Trade Center, New York City
  4. Taipei 101, Taipei
  5. Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai
  6. International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong
  7. Petronas Tower 1, Kuala Lumpur
  8. Petronas Tower 2, Kuala Lumpur
  9. Zifeng Tower, Nanjing
  10. Willis Tower, Chicago