And the Winners Are. . .Emporis’ annual Skyscraper of the Year list reveals South Korean winner and a few surprises.

Late last year, Hamburg, Germany-based global data provider Emporis revealed a supertall tower with the world's fastest elevators as its 2017 Skyscraper of the Year: Lotte World Tower in Seoul. With an array of impressive and record-breaking features, Lotte World Tower is familiar to readers of ELEVATOR WORLD: Its vertical-transportation system by Otis, which, besides its 600-mpm elevators, also includes the world's longest and fastest double-deck elevators, was our 2018 Project of the Year winner in the Elevators, New Construction category.

Emporis1: Lotte World Tower cuts a striking figure over the skyline of Seoul; photo © Tim Griffith.

For its Skyscraper of the Year honor, members of Emporis' international expert panel selected both an overall winner and nine runners up for buildings completed in the previous year. They looked at what made the buildings stand out. In Lotte World Tower's case, that included having the world's highest glass-bottomed observation deck. Its design, by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) and Baum Architects, also warranted mention, with the panel noting "the design combines modern elements with classical forms from Korea's art and cultural history, making Lotte World Tower a particularly harmonious skyscraper."

Emporis2: River Point, one of several glittering new skyscrapers on the Chicago River; photo © Tom Rossiter

Not surprisingly, towers elsewhere in Asia made the top 10, including two Chinese projects: Raffles City Hangzhou in Hangzhou, 61- and 59-story towers designed by UNStudio, and Ping An International Finance Center in Shenzhen, a 116-story supertall designed by KPF and China Construction Design International. What Emporis found surprising is that no Canadian tower made the list, but there were three in North America: the 54-story 150 North Riverside designed by Goettsch Partners with a Schindler elevator system and the 52-story River Point designed by Pickard Chilton Architects, Inc. with a thyssenkrupp system, both in Chicago. The 41-story The Ellipse, designed by Arquitectonica and Haines Lundberg Waehler in Jersey City, New Jersey, rounded out the North American honorees.

The other finalists were in Milan, Italy; Tel Aviv; London; and, for the first time, Africa — the 31-story Brittam Tower designed by GAPP Architects Western Cape and Trian Architects in Nairobi. That could be an early indication of the continent's future as a skyscraper hotspot.

It came as no surprise to EW that Lotte World Tower took the top honor. It was also no surprise to see River Point recognized. In 2016, your author took the opportunity to tour its VT system, which includes 30 elevators and two escalators, prior to thyssenkrupp handing it over to developer Hines. Involving numerous suppliers, the VT system, as well the jobsite itself, was organized and complex. Seeing firsthand how such an impressive project comes together emphasized how deserving such towers are of recognition. Check out Emporis' full Skyscraper of the Year list.