Skyscrapers are on the rise across the globe, with 2014 officially earning the title of the "tallest year ever" from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which oversees the global measuring standards for tall buildings. In total, 97 buildings of at least 200 meters in height (656 feet) were completed worldwide in 2014, rising sharply from the previous record of 81 skyscrapers in 2011. Eleven of those buildings are also what the council calls "supertalls," which are at least 300 meters (984 feet) high. Those too are setting a new annual record. One World Trade Center took the title for 2014's tallest building and is now the third tallest in the world.
"The massive plan to urbanize [China] ... is underway."
The council speculates that the resurgence of skyscrapers is, at least in part, due to economic turnaround. "Now that six years have passed since the global economic crisis / recession began in 2008, and given the long gestation and construction periods common to tall buildings ... we are almost certainly seeing a post-recessionary recovery," the report says. The council also says that China continues to be a major factor, with skyscrapers now appearing in cities that previously had none. This, it says, "indicat[es] that the massive plan to urbanize the country — requiring the urban relocation of some 250 million people — is underway."
China completed more skyscrapers than any other country this year, accounting for 58 of the 97 buildings. Though this is the seventh year in a row that China has built the most skyscrapers, it's only this year that the country has brought them to some of its biggest cities, like Beijing, which saw two completions in 2014. Asia actually dominated 2014 in general, accounting for 74 of the new completions.
The use of skyscrapers is continuing to change, too, though it isn't entirely clear in what direction. The construction of skyscrapers dedicated to office space is increasing, with nearly half of this year's buildings going to that purpose. With 47 office towers, it's the highest total ever, rising up from the previous record of 31 in 2011. Even discounting the increased number of skyscrapers, a full 10 percent more of the total went to office space in 2014 over 2011. That all said, the tallest buildings appear to be finding new purpose. Only 39 of the world's 100 tallest buildings are now office towers. That's slightly down from 42 last year, but it's a significant drop from the 85 back in 2000.