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More Supertall Buildings Came Online In 2018 Than Ever Before

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More supertall buildings were completed worldwide in 2018 than in any other year, according to a new report by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. The organization defines a supertall skyscraper as a building at least 300 meters high (just shy of 1,000 feet).

Comcast Technology Center
Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia under construction last year. It was the tallest building completed in the U.S. in 2018.

This year, 18 such supertalls opened their doors. The majority of them, 11 in all, were developed in China, including the tallest building to open this year: the 108-floor Citic Tower office building, which rises 527.7 meters, or about 1,730 feet, above Beijing.

Supertalls are more than just an exercise in developer vanity, according to Adrian Smith, an architect who has designed some of the world's tallest buildings. Supertalls tend to drive real estate value nearby, he said.

This year, according to the CTBUH, is the fourth in a row that the tallest building of the year was in China. 

Among the top 10 tallest buildings completed in 2018, seven were in China. The second-tallest building of the year was in Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam: Vincom Landmark 81, which comes in at 461 meters, or just over 1,500 feet.

Supertall development hasn't come to a halt in the United States, the report says. Three supertalls were completed in the U.S. in 2018: Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia, (341.7 meters and the tallest U.S. completion this year); 3 World Trade Center in New York City (328.9 meters) and Salesforce Tower in San Francisco (326.1 meters).

Supertalls have caught on in a big way in the 21st century, according to the CTBUH. The total number of 300 meter or taller buildings worldwide is now 144, up from 126 in 2017. In 2013, there were 76 such buildings in the world, and in 2000, only 26.

The organization also tracks buildings at least 200 meters tall (about 650 feet). This year was a strong one for the completion of those buildings as well, though not quite a record. In 2018, the total number of new buildings 200 meters or taller leveled off at 143, after hitting an all-time record of 147 in 2017, the report says. The vast majority of the 2018 buildings (109) were in Asia, while North America saw the completion of 16 buildings at least 200 meters high this year.

The total number of 200 meter and taller buildings in the world is now 1,478, a 141% increase from 2010, when the total was 614.

The organization predicts that between 120 and 150 buildings of 200 meters or greater height will be completed in 2019. That range takes into consideration the total number of projects currently underway, and the fact that projects anticipated for completion in a given year are sometimes delayed into the next year or later.