In the past, New York was always regarded as the tall-building capital of the world, and held that reputation even though the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in Chicago was the tallest building in the US. Hong Kong has always been a tall city, given the pressure on land space. And after that, a few smatterings of tall buildings in Asia held the world’s tallest title – the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, followed by Taipei 101.
Then came The Burj in Dubai – significanty bigger than anything else by some distance, at over 800m (Taipei 101 is around 500m).
And yet – the country that leads the way is China. A list of the top 100 tallest buildings in the world (completed, not in construction) shows that China has 32 – just shy of a third. Next is the US with 28. The UAE has 17. That leaves the rest of the world with only 22.
And the Chinese surge is amazing – 23 of China’s 32 were completed since 2000. As for New York, of its seven buildings in the list, four were built in the 1930s. That’s a bygone if golden age. Overall, 55 of the top 100 were built this side of 2000.
And where are the next clutch of buildings being built? India, Saudi Arabia, and of course, China. Three of the top five buildings under construction are in China, and it has five buildings under construction that will top out at over 500m.
Every so often China takes over something as the world’s most or biggest: most internet users, overtaking Japan as the second biggest economy (read Gavyn Davies for the best analysis of the economy issue). In skyscrapers, China may not have the tallest, or even the most iconic, but in sheer volume it leads the way.