CTBUH Says 2018 Was a Big Year for Tall Towers

This chart, courtesy of CTBUH, is a graphic representation of 50 years’ worth of tall building (200+ m) construction. Note the explosion in numbers of new skyscrapers over the past decade.

Last year didn’t quite match the record for skyscraper completions we saw in 2017, but an interactive look at 2018 in review, courtesy of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), shows that the tall trend isn’t close to abating. Some of the highlights:

  • 143 buildings of at least 200 m (656 ft.) were completed, just shy of 2017’s record of 147 and bringing the worldwide total to 1,478
  • Of the new buildings, 76% were in Asia
  • China led the world with 88 completions of towers at least 200 m tall; the city of Shenzhen alone had 14, nearly 10% of the worldwide total
  • Among all countries, the United States was a distant second place, with 13 completions
  • China also had the tallest building to complete, the 528-m (1,732-ft.) China Zun in Beijing
  • 19 cities around the world got a new tallest building
  • And, how’s this for a sky-high trend? There were 18 supertalls (skyscrapers standing at least 300 m [984 ft.]) completed worldwide, the most ever in one year.

The future of tall-building construction looks brighter than ever, thanks to the rapid urbanization of the global population. This year appears to be another big year for skyscraper news; check out ELEVATOR WORLD’s Web Exclusive for March.

Would Wood Be Good?

Of all the recent advances in tall-building construction, perhaps the most counterintuitive is the nascent move toward wood as the primary material for high-rise towers. Yes, wood construction is environmentally friendly. It comes from trees that trap atmospheric carbon dioxide (a gas that, most scientists say, is the cause of manmade climate change); it’s a renewable resource; and, according to experts, the manufacturing process for wooden building products emits less carbon than that for any other material used in construction.

But, wood isn’t as strong as steel and concrete, right? And, an even bigger concern: wood burns. It’s not hard to imagine a giant timber tower being quickly devoured by flames. It’s an image that’s hard to shake.

A recent article posted on the website Fast Company, however, may put these fears to rest. In it, author Jesus Diaz tells of Mjøstårnet, an 18-story, 265-ft.-tall project being built in Brumunddal, Norway, that will soon be the world’s tallest all-wood building. With the help of a five-part mini-documentary produced by construction company Moelven, we learn that the latest engineered-wood building materials are both strong and fire-resistant. We also learn of innovative construction techniques being employed on this jobsite.

It’s not likely that wood will replace steel and concrete in every future high-rise project. But, it does appear to be a viable option for many types of buildings.

Coming Soon to a City Near You?

U.K.-based Daily Mail has reported on what is says could be “the world’s tallest building ever.” Analemma Tower would be suspended from an orbiting asteroid 31,068 miles above Earth. It would hover above various places as it swings in a figure eight between the northern and southern hemispheres each day.

If the importance of a tethered high-strength cable sounds familiar, you may remember it from various space-elevator proposals. Here, one would be attached to an asteroid that is lowered to Earth and attached to the tower.

Could this be the start of a new wave of building design, or is it as Eugene Pharr commented, “just a ‘space elevator’ that is not anchored at the bottom”?