The 10 tallest buildings in 09

Standing at over 800 metres in height, Burj Dubai is approximately 60 per cent taller than the world's current tallest building - the 509 metre high Taipei 101 in Taiwan. (DENNIS B MALLARI)

Rising 432 metres (1,389 feet) high, with 98 stories, the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago heads the list of the 10 tallest buildings completed in 2009. The tower, designed by architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and developed by the Trump Organisation, becomes the sixth tallest building in the world and the tallest completed in the United States since the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower was built, also in Chicago, some 35 years ago.

The mixed-use tower includes the 339-room Trump International Hotel, 486 luxury condominium units, 9,300 sq m (100,000 sq ft) of riverfront retail space, 960 parking spaces, restaurant, banquet hall, health club, spa, lounges and a ground floor with a landscaped riverfront public plaza and promenade. The construction of the building also employed a unique phased-occupancy strategy, meaning while the bottom 30 floors of the hotel were completed, occupied and functioning, construction continued unabated on the remaining 60 floors above.

The second tallest building completed in 2009 was the Bank of America Tower in New York at 365 m. Designed by Cook + Fox Architects and developed by the Durst Organisation/Bank of America, it becomes the second tallest building in New York behind the Empire State Building, and the 14th tallest in the world. The building also demonstrates a wide range of sustainable credentials, being the first high-rise office building to strive for the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed) Platinum designation.

While heralding an impressive year for the American skyscraper, the year 2009 still emphasises that Asia, and in particular China, is the centre of global tall building construction. This will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future, as the Chinese cities of Chongqing, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen and Tianjin, among others, continue to design and construct some of the tallest buildings in the world. Five of the tallest 10 buildings completed in 2009 are located in China, including the China World Trade Centre III, in Beijing, at third on the list.

As always, strict criteria have influenced the putting together of the Tallest 10 Completed in 2009 list – buildings are only eligible if they are topped out structurally and architecturally, fully clad and open for business, or at least partially occupied.

As we move into a new decade, we can look back at the past 10 years as some of the most exciting and challenging in the history of tall buildings. The first part of the 21st Century has seen not only a tall building construction boom, with ever-denser cities containing ever-taller buildings from Madrid to the Middle East, from Shanghai to San Francisco, but also a global economic crisis that has seen high-profile tall building projects in virtually all skyscraper cities cancelled, delayed, or put on hold.

However, despite these troubling times, 2010 promises to be an active year in high-rise construction, as the finishing touches are put on some of the tallest, and most spectacular, buildings in the world, due to a variety of factors, a significant number of buildings which had been expected to complete in 2009 have been delayed, and will now likely open in 2010. These include, among others, the Burj Dubai, Nanjing Greenland Financial Centre, The Index (Dubai), Wenzhou Trade Centre, HHHR Tower (Dubai) and Capitol City Moscow Tower.

No doubt the crowning glory of 2010 will be the completion of the Burj Dubai. Standing at over 800 metres in height, it will be approximately 60 per cent taller than the world's current tallest building – the 509 metre high Taipei 101 in Taiwan.



Philip Oldfield is lecturer in Architecture,

University of Nottingham, Research Coordinator, CTBUH
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