World’s tallest buildings reach completion simultaneously with onset of major recession
The year 2008 will long be remembered as the start of an economic crisis that has gripped the entire globe – a year that may also have brought to an abrupt end the worldwide construction boom of the past decade that has seen ever-denser cities containing ever-taller buildings proposed from Madrid to the Middle East, from Shanghai to San Francisco. As financial shock waves have reverberated around the world, high-profile tall building projects in virtually all skyscraper cities have been cancelled, delayed, or put on hold in response to the precarious global economic conditions. The question that everyone is now asking – is this the end of the tall ambitions of places such as Moscow, Chicago or Dubai for the short-mid term future?
The correlation between tall buildings and economic recession is not a new one. In 1999 the economist Andrew Lawrence created the ‘Skyscraper Index’ showing how almost all of the world’s tallest buildings throughout history have reached completion virtually simultaneously with the onset of a major economic recession. Using the research and criteria of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), and specifically their annual ’Ten Tallest Buildings Completed Annually’ and projected ‘Tallest 20 in 2020’ research, this paper seeks to examine further the link between skyscrapers and economic cycles, and suggest how the current economic crisis will affect tall building developments in the next decade or so.