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Top 10 Tallest Buildings…of the Future!

Obsessively tracking and compiling lists of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, I’ve been told, is “such a guy thing.”

Either way, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), an organization dedicated to such a guy thing, has lots of great lists and features on their website. Here’s their current ranking of the Top 10 Future Tallest Buildings in the World:

10. Manara Warisan Merdeka, Malaysia (height: 1,969 ft.)

9. Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, Saudi Arabia (1,972)

8. Lanco Hills Signature Tower, India (1,982)

7. Triple One, S. Korea (2,034)

6. Shanghai Tower, China (2,073)

5. Wuhan Greenland Center, China (2,087)

4. Signature Tower Jakarta, Indonesia (2,093)

3. Ping An Finance Center, China (2,165)

2. Century Plaza South Tower, China (2,392)

1. Kingdom Tower, Saudi Arabia (3,281)

This ranking from CTBUH’s Skyscraper Center includes the tallest buildings under construction, proposed, topped out (i.e., structurally, they’ve reached their peak), or in a state of halted construction. I’ve removed Dubai’s 163-floor Burj Khalifa from this list since it’s now considered “complete” (and currently holds the title of World’s Tallest). Since other buildings are yet to be proposed or started, this list will naturally fluctuate according to each project’s progress–or lack of progress. Also, it’s not unlikely that certain “proposed” towers will be modified (I’m thinking, in particular, of the still-theoretical Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia, which purportedly will be over 500 ft. higher than the Burj Khalifa.)

Let’s try to stay away from the potentially Freudian significance of such competitive skyscraper construction. Instead, let’s look at these towers’ relevance to their markets’ commercial real estate.

Of course, skyscrapers are traditionally intended as practical solutions to urban centers’ spacial constraints. Historically, many cities (like those in Europe) have resisted tall buildings for fear that they would obstruct or overshadow older, more venerable structures.

In the case of today’s ridiculously tall buildings, height seems more a show of privilege than an attempt to create more office, hospitality, and residential space. This, I think, may be why all of the tall buildings on this list are in emerging or recently wealthy markets in the Middle East and Asia.

While these economies are flush, such illustrious buildings should have no problem attracting office tenants or hotel guests, but how will such expensive properties perform in the event of economic stagnation or recession? What about when the Middle East’s oil production dries up, or Asia’s growth slows?

As long as there are enough wealthy patrons, I’m sure these properties will perform well. But what about in times of economic contraction? Owners and operators in Europe and the States can attest, the most expensive buildings aren’t always the top performers.


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