The world welcomed a record-breaking number of 97 new buildings that measured over 200 metres tall in 2014, a Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) report has revealed.

Last year was also the “tallest year ever”, with the sum of heights across all 97 buildings amounting to 23,333 metres, breaking 2011’s previous record of 19,852 metres with 81 tall building completions.

Australia contributed two projects with a combined height of 503 metres to this new record – the Prima Pearl Apartments in Melbourne, and Infinity in Brisbane (pictured below). However, the CTBUH acknowledged that this could well be the quiet before the storm, referencing the “number of superlative headlines coming out of Melbourne in particular during 2014, where it seemed every week bore news of another approved or amended skyscraper.”

The tall-building industry of 2014 was, unsurprisingly, dominated by Asia, which completed 74 of the 97 buildings. China took on most of this weight, and for the seventh year in a row, completed the highest number of tall buildings (58). This represents 60 per cent of the global 2014 total, and a 61 per cent increase over its previous record of 36 in 2013.

The Philippines took second place with five completions, while United Arab Emirates and Qatar share position three with four completions. With three completions each, the United States, Japan, Indonesia and Canada are tied in fourth place.

While Asia produced the most buildings, the tallest building completed in 2014 was One World Trade Center in the US. At 541 metres, it was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and is now the world’s third tallest building.

Below: The tallest building to complete in China: The Wharf Times Square 1 in Wuxi, a 339-metre hotel/office complex. It is also Asia’s tallest building and the third-tallest building in the world to complete in 2014.

Composite construction ruled

The number of building completions using composite construction as the primary structural system jumped from 34 per cent in 2013, to 54 per cent in 2014, or 52 buildings out of the 97.

The number of buildings whose predominant structural material is concrete dropped to 38 per cent in 2014, from 61 per cent the year before. All steel construction also continued its decline as a primary structural material, comprising only five per cent of 2014’s 200-metre-plus completions.

According to the CTBUH, the use of composite construction such as outriggers, braced megaframes and concrete-encase steel (often with a concrete core) has increased in the past decade with the rising trend of mixed-use buildings; these methods provide the flexibility needed to accommodate all kinds of uses in one building.Above: Thirteen buildings in 2014 also entered the World's tallest list. CLICK TO ENLARGE.
Below: Tall buildings by structural material.

The year ahead

Although 2014 was an unprecedented year for the skyscraper construction industry, the CTBUH notes that 2015 promises to be even more active. The council projects the completion of between 105 to 130 tall building, with China to again take the lead by a wide margin as it is on track to complete or top out 106 buildings of 200 metres or greater this year.

Other developments that should be followed include the construction of the B2 modular tower at Pacific Prak, Brooklyn, which stalled in September 2014 due to a legal dispute between contractor Skanska and developer Forest City Ratner.

Dubai’s long-awaited 660 metre Burj 2020, which aimed to have the highest observation deck in the world, is also back in action, CTBUH says. Shortlisted architecture-engineering teams were being interviewed late last year, making the claimed start of construction in 2015 plausible.

Other cities to watch include Shanghai (632 metre Shanghai Tower which will become the tallest building in China), Moscow (373 metre Vostok Tower, which will become the tallest building in Europe), and London’s Helter Skelter, the 74 storey Pinnacle by PLP Architecture.

To read the full report, please click HERE.