Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Year in Review: Tall Trends of 2013
Small Increase in Completions Marks Return to Upward Trend
January 16, 2014

Report by Daniel Safarik and Antony Wood, CTBUH
Research by Marty Carver and Marshall Gerometta, CTBUH
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CHICAGO - By all appearances, the small increase in the total number of tall-building completions from 2012 into 2013 is indicative of a return to the prevalent trend of increasing completions each year over the past decade. Perhaps 2012, with its small year-on-year drop in completions, was the last year to register the full effect of the 2008 / 2009 global financial crisis, and a small sigh of relief can be let out in the tall-building industry as we begin 2014.
The tallest 20 buildings completed in 2013. © CTBUH (View Larger)
At the same time, it is important to note that 2013 was the second-most successful year ever,  in terms of 200-meter-plus building completion, with 73 buildings of 200 meters or greater height completed. When examined in the broad course of skyscraper completions since 2000, the rate is still increasing. From 2000 to 2013, the total number of 200-meter-plus buildings in existence increased from 261 to 830 – an astounding 318 percent. From this point of view, we can more confidently estimate that the slight slowdown of 2012, which recorded 69 completions after 2011’s record 81 – was a “blip,” and that 2013 was more representative of the general upward trend.
2013 Tallest #1: JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, Dubai © JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai 2013 Tallest #4: Al Yaqoub Tower, Dubai (CC BY-NC-ND) Bertrand Duperrin 2013 Tallest #5: The Landmark, Abu Dhabi. © Holistic
Of course, each year is extraordinary in its own way. Here are some of 2013’s key milestones:
  • 2013 was the second-most successful year on record for completion of buildings 200 meters or greater in height. In 2013, 73 such buildings were completed, second only to the 81 completions of 2011.
  • For the fourth year running, nine supertalls were again completed in 2013. These 36 supertalls, built over the last four years, comprise nearly half the total number of supertalls that now exist (77).
  • Across the globe, the sum of heights of all 200-meter-plus buildings completed globally in 2013 was 17,662 meters – also the second-ranked in history, behind the 2011 record of 21,642 meters.
  • Of the 73 buildings completed in 2013, 12 – or 16 percent – entered the list of 100 Tallest Buildings in the World.
  • For the sixth year running, China had the most 200-meter-plus completions of any nation, at 37 – located across 22 cities.
  • The tallest building to complete in 2013 was the 355-meter JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Tower 2 in Dubai, UAE.
  • Three of the five tallest buildings completed are in the United Arab Emirates, for the second year in a row.
  • The city of Goyang, Korea, has debuted on the world skyscraper stage with eight 200-meter-plus buildings completing in 2013.
  • Europe has two of the 10 tallest buildings completed in a given year for the first time since 1953.
  • Panama added two buildings over 200 meters, bringing the small Central American nation’s count up to 19. It had none as recently as 2008.
  • Of the 73 buildings over 200 meters completed in 2013, only one, 1717 Broadway in New York, was in the United States.
Tall buildings 200 meters or taller completed each year from 1960 to 2014 © CTBUH (View Larger)
Tall Buildings 200 meters or Taller Completed in 2013 – Left: by Country, Right: by City. © CTBUH (View Larger)
Key Worldwide Market Snapshots of 2013:


Asia completely dominated the world tall-building industry, at 74 percent of worldwide completions with 53 buildings in 2013, against 53 percent with 35 buildings in 2012. Asia now contains 45 percent of the 100 Tallest Buildings in the World.

China remained the heavyweight and overall undisputed champion of tall-building construction in 2013. A total of 37 two-hundred-meter-plus buildings were completed – 50 percent of the global total – up from 24 in 2012. The sum of heights of all 200-meter-plus buildings in China in 2013 was 8,876 meters, compared to 5,823 meters in 2012, an increase of 52.4 percent.

These buildings were spread across 22 cities. Shenzhen proved to be the most active skyscraper city, doubling its number of completions from the previous year, from two to four. It was closely tailed by Chongqing and Shanghai, which tied at three. Nanjing, Shenyang, Suzhou, Hefei, Tianjin, Nanning, Xiamen and Guangzhou each claimed two completions. Of these, Hefei and Xiamen are first-timers; these cities have never completed buildings of 200 meters or more until 2013.

The tallest building to complete in China in 2013 was the 332-meter Modern Media Center in Changzhou.

200m+ Buildings Completed Annually – Left: Asia (not including China or South Korea). Total: 126, Middle: South Korea. Total: 47, Right: China. Total: 286 © CTBUH (View Larger)
Korea had the next-largest number of tall completions in the Asian region, though its figure of nine buildings was almost entirely due to the opening of an eight-building complex, the Tanhyun Doosan project, whose subtitle, appropriately enough, is “We’ve the Zenith.” Goyang, a city of 1.5 million near Seoul, is now on the world skyscraper map, in the same way that so many Chinese cities have entered the world’s consciousness over the past dozen years.
2013 Tallest #10: Dongguan TBA Tower (CC BY-NC-SA) Colt Group 2013 Tallest #24: Shenzhen Stock Exchange Plaza © OMA + Philippe Ruault 2013 Tallest #47: C&D International Tower, Xiamen © Gravity Partnership

Middle East

As a region, the Middle East recorded completion of 12 buildings of 200-plus meters height, forming 16 percent of the world total in 2013. This is a decrease from 16 buildings for 24 percent of last year’s total, though last year’s score was boosted by the completion of the Abraj-al-Bait Endowment, a single seven-building complex in Saudi Arabia.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) remained a dominant player in 2013, increasing from five to 10 completions, a national total second only to China’s. The UAE has been in the top four nations since 2008 and the top three since 2010. For the second year in a row, three of the five tallest buildings completed globally this year are in the UAE.

The dueling Emirati cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi continued apace in 2013, each completing five 200-meter-plus buildings. Dubai has been in the top five cities for tall-building completion since 2008 (when it was number one, a feat it repeated in 2010). Abu Dhabi  has only once jumped Dubai’s rank, jumping to number three in 2011 when Dubai slipped to fifth place.

2013 Tallest #7: Cayan Tower, Dubai © SOM / Tim Griffith 2013 Tallest #33: The Gate Shams Abu Dhabi, Residential Towers 1, 2, and 3, connected via sky bridge. © Sorouh

Dubai laid claim to the title of both the world’s tallest building completion of 2013, the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Tower 2 (355 meters), as well as the “world’s tallest twisting tower”—not a category maintained by CTBUH, but impressive nonetheless—with the 307-meter Cayan Tower.

Abu Dhabi completed The Gate, whose captivating skybridge connecting its three towers caught the eye of the 2013 CTBUH Awards Jury, which selected it as a Finalist in the Best Tall Buildings Middle East category.


Europe completed four tall buildings in excess of 200 meters in 2013, and increased its total number of supertalls (300m+) in existence from one to three (the first was Capital City Tower in Moscow in 2010). In 2013, Europe also had two buildings (The Shard, London and Mercury City, Moscow) in the world’s 10 tallest completions for the first time since 1953, when two of the seven Moscow “sisters” (MV Lomonosov State University and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) were completed.

Among the two supertalls to complete in Europe last year was The Shard, which is not only the United Kingdom’s tallest at 306 meters, but one of the more hard-won victories (anywhere, let alone in the UK) of developer persistence amidst financial crisis, regulatory scrutiny, historic-preservation and traffic-flow constraints. These plaudits, and its aesthetic merits, won the Shard the 2013 Best Tall Building Europe award from the Council.

The 339-meter Mercury City tower put Russia on top of the continent, while the 220-meter DC Tower I brought Austria—which broke the 200-meter threshold only once before, with 1999’s Millennium Tower—further into the fold of “European Tall.”
2013 Tallest #2: Mercury City Tower, Moscow, the tallest building in Europe © Butyrskii Igor 2013 Tallest #8: The Shard, London © Terri Meyer Boake 2013 Tallest #46: DC Tower I.
The Americas

North America’s share of total 200-meter-plus completions during 2013 dropped from 6 to 1 percent of worldwide figures. Panama comprised the totality of tall buildings completed in Central America in 2013. There were no completions of tall buildings over 200 meters in South America.

Panama continued to punch above its size, completing two 200-meter-plus buildings, the 267-meter Bicsa Financial Tower and the 246-meter Yoo and Arts Tower, both in Panama City. The expansion of the Panama Canal and the appeal of buying real estate on an urban, tropical seashore continued to attract commercial and residential interest to a country that now has 19 tall buildings over 200 meters, but had none as recently as 2008.
2013 Tallest #15: Bicsa Financial Center, Panama City © Sky Films Panama 2013 Tallest #23: Yoo and Arts Tower, Panama City © Jaime Justiniani 2013 Tallest #40: 1717 Broadway, New York City © Tectonic Photo
In the United States, heavy construction and a slew of new proposals made 2013 an exciting year in New York City, though only one 200-meter-plus building, the 230-meter Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn Central Park Hotel at 1717 Broadway, was actually completed.

The skyscraper world stage briefly returned to the United States’ decades-long spat between Chicago and New York in 2013, as the Council’s Height Committee ruled that the spire of One World Trade Center would count toward its official height. The 541-meter building will have to wait until 2014 to officially enter the ranks of the world’s tallest 10 (most likely in position number three, if briefly), when it is completed.

200m+ Buildings Completed Annually: United States of America. Current Total: 164 © CTBUH (View Larger)

The balance of US interest is in the series of super-slim luxury residential towers now cropping up along 57th Street and in Lower Manhattan; here, slenderness ratios, not pure height, are the object of much discussion. Still, it will be several years before many of these “billionaire needles” are completed.

Noted Absences in 2013

After a burgeoning 2012, Canada seemed to be catching its breath in 2013, registering no completions over 200 meters in 2013, while having finished four in 2012.

A busy but sporadic tall-building market, Australia completed no buildings over 200 meters in 2013, after churning out three in 2012. Most of Australia’s activity in 2013 was restricted to design proposals and heated discussions about where it is appropriate to build tall, particularly in Melbourne.

After completing the world’s second-tallest building in 2012, Saudi Arabia dropped out of completions in 2013, but saw the important milestone of breaking ground on Kingdom Tower, the 1,000-meter-plus building set to be the world’s tallest when it completes in 2019.
Tall Buildings in 2013 – by Function

This past year saw the continuation of several trends in building function, which the CTBUH has been tracking over the past decade.

These trends are more consistent than the number of completions, which suggests that the story of tall building composition and purpose is at least as interesting, and possibly much more nuanced, than that of pure height and number.

Of the 73 two-hundred-meter-plus buildings completed in 2013, the share of pure office buildings continued to decline, from 39 to 34 percent. Pure-residential functions comprised 30 percent of 2013 completions. Mixed-use buildings ticked up slightly, to 30 percent, up from 29 percent in 2012. Four of the completions were hotels, comprising five percent of the total (against one percent in 2012).
Tall buildings 200 meters or taller by region, function, and material © CTBUH (View Larger)
Tall Buildings in 2013 – by Structural Material

Concrete remains the building material of choice for tall buildings globally, holding steady at 63 percent of completions. Composite construction increased from 26 to 32 percent in 2013, while all-steel construction remained a distant third at three percent, a far shot from 1970, when 90 percent of the 100 Tallest Buildings in the World were constructed of steel.

What can we draw from this? It has a lot to do with where construction is occurring and the differing floorplates dictated by multiple uses. Concrete is the leading material in China, for instance, where it is easily come by, and the lion’s share of activity this past year was in China. A residential or hotel section with compartmentalized apartments might best make use of concrete, with its thick cores, smaller spans and sturdy rigidity. An office section may call for large unobstructed floorplates, which is more easily accomplished in steel. As more mixed-use buildings enter the market, it follows that there is an increasing requirement for mixed construction types within a single building.
The number of tall buildings that entered the World’s 100 Tallest Buildings list for each year, starting in 1970. Only time will tell if any future year can break 2011’s record setting 18 total buildings © CTBUH (View Larger)
Impact of 2013 on The 100 Tallest Buildings in the World

Although this was a very successful year in terms of tall-building completions, it has held close to the average set for the last few years when it comes to the number of annual skyscrapers of 200 meters or greater to enter the list of the 100 Tallest in the World. In 2013, 12 new buildings entered the 100 Tallest in the World List. In 2012, that number was 13. The all time record since accurate recordkeeping began in 1970 was in 2011, when 18 buildings finished that year entered the 100 Tallest in the World list.
World's Tallest 100 Buildings by location, function, and material © CTBUH (View Larger)
An interesting phenomenon also occurred at the bottom of the 100 Tallest in the World list, indicating just how fleeting the status of tall buildings can be today. Panama’s 284-meter Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower, finished in 2011, entered the 100 Tallest in the World list that year, and was removed in 2013. The Central American nation’s 281-meter Torre Vitri joined Korea’s 284-meter Three International Finance Center in Seoul on the 100 Tallest in the World in 2012;  both were out just a year later in 2013.

On the other hand, it took 83 years for the 282.6-meter Trump Building at 40 Wall Street (originally the Bank of Manhattan Building) in New York, finished in 1930, to be shown the 100 Tallest in the World exit door in 2013 . Its place was well-earned – the last time this building was “trumped” was in 1930, when the “secret spire” of the Chrysler Building pushed 40 Wall Street to the status of “world’s second-tallest” at the very last moment.
Above: The tallest building completed each year since the year 2000. Below: The average height of the 50 tallest buildings in existence that year and of the 50 tallest buildings completed during that year © CTBUH (View Larger)
Conclusion – And a Look Ahead in 2014

It’s fair to say that 2013 was a year of recovery and a return to the still relatively “new normal” of year-on-year growth in skyscraper completions. While zero megatall (600-plus meters) and nine supertall  (300-plus-meters) buildings completed in 2013, (against one megatall and nine supertalls in 2012), there was no shortage of activity in planning phases, suggesting that the malaise of the global recession may finally have been shaken off in many regions.

In 2014, we predict that between 65 and 90 buildings of 200 meters or more will complete. This year will no doubt be an exciting one, and a year of continued growth. Here is some of what’s in store:
  • Up to 13 of the scheduled completions in 2014 will be supertalls (300 meters or higher).
  • The Torre Costanera, at 300 meters, will be South America’s tallest building and its first supertall.
  • Twisting towers will continue to enter the vanguard of tall in 2014 – the KKR2 Tower of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the Spine Tower of Istanbul, Turkey, lead the list.
  • A typically curvaceous Zaha Hadid-designed tower, the Wangjing SOHO T1, will complete in Beijing, China this year. This building was the subject of piracy rumors early last year when a highly similar tower group, the Meiquan 22nd Century in Chongqing, was revealed. The race is on in earnest to see if the original finishes before the “copy.”
  • The Shanghai Tower finished its concrete core in 2013. The 632-meter tower, originally set to complete in 2014, will boast the world’s fastest elevators, as well as innovative use of double skins and sky lobbies. Its construction has been and will continue to be one of the most closely-watched spectacles in the tall-building universe. Even if the completion date slips into 2015, as now seems likely, Shanghai Tower will likely be China’s tallest building for at least a period of time, depending on the progress of rivals Ping An Finance Center (660 meters), Wuhan Greenland Center (636 meters), and possibly Sky City J220.
  • The China Broad Group’s Sky City J220, an 828-meter, 220-story building to be constructed entirely of prefabricated modules, may or may not have gotten underway, according to conflicting reports, and may or may not complete in 2014. Either way, the world will be watching. Unshaken by skeptical peers and media and bureaucratic hurdles, Broad Group Chairman Zhang Yue has vowed the project – aiming to become the world’s tallest before Kingdom Tower takes the title – will continue.
  • Kingdom Tower, set to become the world’s next-tallest building at 1,000+ meters, broke ground in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2013. The industry will be closely watching its out-of-ground progress in 2014. Intended to evoke a bundle of leaves shooting up from the ground, the faceted three-wing tower will cost $1.2 billion to construct and contain 167 floors.
  • One World Trade Center, New York, when it completes in 2014 at its intended symbolic 1,776 feet (541 meters), will gain status as the United States’ and North America’s tallest building. The announcement of CTBUH’s ratification of this height in 2013 drew commentary from the global press, Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and television comedian Jon Stewart--so a little more buzz when we “make it official” in 2014 can be expected.
  • The first of the crop of “superslim” towers in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, the 306-meter One57, will complete, upping the ante for its even-slimmer rivals along 57th Street.
Postscript: The Difficulties with Data

It should be noted that our prediction from last year was overoptimistic.

“It is likely the 2013 completion total will set a new record for tall building completions, surpassing the 2011 total,” we wrote in the 2013 Journal, Issue I. This did not happen; in fact we were only just inside the bottom of our predicted range by three buildings. The reasons for this were multifold, and they illustrate the difficulty inherent in data collection on tall buildings.

Although we maintain with confidence that we have the world’s most accurate database of tall building information, “missed calls” such as this present the opportunity to explain how we do what we do. To create The Skyscraper Center database, from which this and all other Tall Buildings in Numbers reports are drawn, the Council primarily collects data directly from members and participating submitters. We continually corroborate this data with construction drawings from architects, media reports, personal connections within our membership, and a wide universe of online forums and blogs. As we prepare this annual report, , we directly contact the representatives of every tall building project on the long list  to confirm our data, and anticipated completion, is correct. Short of using precision equipment to visually inspect each building, we do the best we can with the resources we have.

Given this reality, the general areas that tend to be most problematic are:
  • Given the tremendous amount of economic and human energy placed into executing these amazing structures, there is a tendency on the part of many sources to exaggerate the status of construction, rank, or other statistics about buildings. We are not always able to independently verify claims.
  • There is much confusion about the criteria for a building being considered “complete,” which the CTBUH defines as “fully clad, topped out structurally and architecturally, and open for business, or at least ready to receive occupants (i.e. “occupiable”, if not occupied).” Given the importance of these buildings as political and economic symbols, there is sometimes a strong incentive to prematurely declare completion (for example, by way of an “official opening” before the CTBUH criteria are fully met).
  • Data is not always submitted in a timely manner.
  • Data is sometimes submitted inaccurately, and corrected later.
In this year’s report then, in keeping with the past few years, we project a range of probable completion totals for the two years ahead, i.e., a minimum and maximum number of completions. For 2014, this range is 65 – 90 200m+ buildings, 7 – 13 Supertalls (300m+), and no Megatalls (600m+). In 2015, we anticipate 70 – 105 completions, of which 8 – 15 will be Supertalls (300m+), and one will be a megatall (Shanghai Tower, 632 meters).

One of the best ways to help us increase the accuracy, depth and utility of our data is to contribute as detailed information as you can. Further, you can support CTBUH’s vital research role through participation in our events, subscribing to our quality publications, funding research and becoming members. For more information on this, go to
For a statistical study on all 200 m+ buildings completed in 2013, see the Council's latest "Tall Buildings in Numbers"
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All Buildings 200 meters or Taller Completed in 2013

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