Skyscraper construction total hits record in 2014

Ninety-seven skyscrapers, including three in Canada, were completed around the world in 2014, setting an annual construction record, according to a new report.

Canada completed 3 skyscrapers last year, all in Toronto

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      Ninety-seven skyscrapers, including three in Canada, were completed around the world in 2014, setting an annual construction record, according to a new report.

      The total height of those 97 towers is 23,333 metres, another record.

      The previous annual record was set in 2011, when 81 skyscrapers were erected, with a total height of 19,852 metres.

      The study, by Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a non-profit with headquarters in Chicago, examines buildings measuring 200 metres high or more.

      The council says 11 of the 97 skyscrapers completed last year were “supertalls,” measuring 300 metres or more, setting another annual record. Only 85 such buildings exist.

      The tallest of 2014’s new skyscrapers is One World Trade Center in New York City, which measures 541 metres. It is now the third-tallest building in the world, behind the 828-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the 601-metre Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Mecca.

      Asia led skyscraper construction last year

      China led the world in 2014 skyscraper construction for the seventh year in a row, according to the report. Fifty-eight buildings over 200 metres were built in China, or 60 per cent of the global total. Seventy-four skyscrapers were completed across Asia, and the Philippines came in second place with five towers completed.

      Qatar and the United Arab Emirates both completed four skyscrapers last year, earning a third-place title. Canada completed three skyscrapers, tying for fourth place with the U.S., Japan and Indonesia.

      Lightning strikes One World Trade Centre in Manhattan in New York on July 2. At 541 metres, One World Trade Centre was the tallest building completed in 2014, according to a report by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

      Toronto is home to all three skyscrapers completed in Canada in 2014, and all are residential buildings: 

      • Aura at College Park, a 78-floor concrete building measuring 272 metres in height.
      • The L Tower, 205 metres,
      • Ice Condos at York Centre 1, 202 metres.

      Only five per cent of the skyscrapers finished last year were built using steel as the main component. Fifty-four per cent were built using composite materials, up from 34% in 2014, while the percentage of towers built using primarily concrete declined to 38 per cent, from 61 per cent in 2013.

      Trends behind skyscraper bonanza

      The report offers a number of possible reasons behind the skyscraper boom last year. First and foremost, a global economic rebound from the 2008 recession could be responsible.

      “It could very well be that pent-up demand has returned to real estate markets after a lull during the recession,” says the report. “Given the long gestation and construction periods common to tall buildings … we are almost certainly seeing a post-recessionary recovery.”

      The high percentage of new skyscrapers in China is also driving global construction statistics upwards.

      The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat takes this as a sign that “the massive plan to urbanize [China] - requiring the urban relocation of some 250 million people - is underway.”

      The Canton Tower, centre, or Guangzhou TV Tower, is seen among skyscrapers in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Nov. 6. The report says China led the world in skyscraper construction in 2014. (Alex Lee/Reuters)

      The report warns against seeing Chinese skyscraper construction as a sign of a healthy economy, though, noting that the Chinese government, not private investment, is often the main backer behind many of the country’s new construction projects. It is unclear, says the report, whether “the government [is] subsidizing tall buildings in order to attract businesses” or if “business and population needs [are] organically driving growth.”

      The number of tall buildings being built this year could eclipse 2014’s record, says the report.

      The council expects between 105 and 130 skyscrapers to be completed in 2015, with China once again leading the way


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