2009: A Successful Year for the American High-Rise

Three of the five tallest buildings completed during the year were located in the United States

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has announced the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago as the tallest building completed in 2009. The tower, designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP and developed by the Trump Organization, is the seventh-tallest building in the world, standing at 1,389 feet (98 stories).


2009 marked a successful 12 months for the American skyscraper, with three of the five tallest buildings completed during the year being located in the United States – Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, Bank of America Tower in New York (second-tallest at 1,198 feet), and Aqua in Chicago (fifth-tallest at 858 feet).


Chicago is home to more tall buildings completed in 2009 than any other city in the world. Asia, however (in particular, China), remains the center of global tall building construction. Over half of all buildings 656 feet or taller completed in the past 12 months were located in Asia, with 36 percent in China.


Despite these successes, tall building construction hasn’t gone unaffected by the global recession as many construction projects around the world are cancelled, delayed, or put on hold. Compared to 2008, there has been a 28-percent drop in the total number of buildings 656 feet or taller completed this year. In 2008, 11 buildings were completed in the United Arab Emirates, a figure that has fallen to only 3 in 2009. In addition, there were no buildings from Africa, Australasia, Central America, Europe, or South America among the 50 tallest buildings completed in 2009.

The 10 Tallest Buildings Completed in 2009

1. Trump International Hotel & Tower, Chicago (1,389 feet)
2. Bank of America Tower, New York (1,198 feet)
3. China World Trade Center III, Beijing (1,083 feet)
4. Arraya Center Office Tower, Kuwait City (984 feet)
5. Aqua, Chicago (858 feet)
6. Al Fardan Residences, Doha (830 feet)
7. Shanghai IFC South Tower, Shanghai (820 feet)
8. RunHua International Building, Wuxi (814 feet)
9. Hongdu International Plaza, Wuxi (814 feet)
10. Xinjiekou Department Store Phase 2, Nanjing (787 feet)


The CTBUH reports that 2010 will be by far the most active in the history of the skyscraper. A significant number of buildings expected to be completed in 2009 have been delayed, and will likely open in 2010. The sheer volume of high-rise buildings set to be completed in 2010 is astonishing. Data from the CTBUH suggests that more than 100 buildings that are 656 feet or taller will be completed worldwide within the next 12 months, which is more than the number of buildings 656 feet or taller already in existence in New York and Hong Kong combined.