Construction of at least 50 tall buildings is on hold after initiation of foundation work, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). Of the tallest 20, eight are in the Middle East, and six are in Latin America.
In Dubai, construction of the planned 1-kilometer-tall Nakheel Tower is delayed.
Photo © Woods Bagot
Projects in the U.S. also are taking a hit. Foundations are complete for the 2,000-foot-tall Chicago Spire, by Santiago Calatrava, but work has been halted. Construction also has stopped on the planned 1,047-foot-tall Waterview Tower, in Chicago. The partially complete frame stands as a conspicuous reminder of the recession.  
Though the tall-building blahs have hit the Americas, Europe, and many parts of the Middle East, the building boom in China “has not stopped,” said David Scott, a principal of the New York City office of engineer Arup and former chairman of the CTBUH. Scott spoke at the council's annual conference, held October 22 and 23 in Chicago.
Only three of the 50 tallest buildings on hold are in China. And of the 100 tallest buildings now under construction, some 30 are in China. Work is still under way on the slurry wall and the bored piles for the foundations of what may become China's tallest—the planned 632-meter-tall, 5.5-million-square-foot Shanghai Tower, by Gensler. The design calls for 128 stories of retail, exhibit, office, and hotel space in what Arthur Gensler, FAIA, describes as a vertical city. Aiming for LEED Gold, the building includes sustainable features such as wind turbines and a rainwater collection system.
Another sustainable tall building in China under way is the Pearl River Tower in Guangzhou, planned at 310 meters. Construction of the 71-story building is at approximately level 40 for the main floors and 48 for the core. Though the building is designed to be 58 percent more efficient than a code-compliant building in China, it will not reach net-zero-energy use envisioned by its architect-engineer. “We don’t have enough data to give developers the confidence that [the net-zero energy systems] work,” said Russell Gilchrist, director of technical architecture in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Another super-tall building stuck in the foundation phase is Dubai’s planned 1-kilometer-tall Nakheel Tower. According to the architecture firm, Woods Bagot, the tower’s foundations are half complete, but the project is on hold pending a revaluation by the developer sometime next year.
At the CTBUH conference, those with experience cautioned that developing super-tall buildings is not for the faint of heart. Andy Weiss, executive vice president for the Trump Organization, whose 1,362-foot-tall, SOM-designed Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago is virtually complete, gave developers a few pointers: Begin with a large, centrally located site; prepare for a time-consuming and costly entitlement and zoning process; and pay attention to quality so the building can become an icon. And if there are multiple uses, he added, be prepared for a complex design and construction process. “Use firms with track records,” Weiss advised. Finally, he cautioned developers to be prepared for lots of publicity.


Rank Name City Original Completion Stories Height
1 Nakheel Tower Dubai 2020 200+ 1,000+ Office/Hotel/Residential
2 Chicago Spire Chicago 2014 150 609 Residential
3 Doha Convention Center Tower Doha 2012 112 551 Hotel/Residential
4 Lam Tara Tower 1 Dubai   88 454 Residential
5 The Square Capital Tower Kuwait City 2010 63 351 Office/Hotel
6 Faros de Panama Torre Central Panama City 2011 85 346 Office/Hotel/Residential
7 Torre Planetarium I Panama City 2011 92 343 Residential
8 The Skyscraper Dubai   66 330 Office
9 Lam Tara Tower 2 Dubai   77 320 Office
10 Waterview Tower Chicago   89 319 Hotel/Residential
11 Torre Planetarium II Panama City 2011 82 305 Residential
12 Eurasia Moscow 2010 67 304 Office/Hotel/Residential
13 Tianjin International Trade Tower Tianjin 2010 80 300 Office/Hotel
14 Gran Torre Costanera Santiago 2010 70 300 Office
15 I&M Tower Dubai   54 290 Office
16 Vision Brisbane   72 283 Residential
17 Four Seasons Hotel and Condominiums New York 2011 68 278 Hotel/Residential
18 Faros de Panama Torre 2 Panama City 2011 73 270 Residential
18 Faros de Panama Torre 3 Panama City 2011 73 270 Residential
20 The Trump Palm Int’l Hotel & Tower Dubai 2011 62 270 Multiple