In 2012, CTBUH published a research paper titled Tallest 20 in 2020: Era of the Megatall – The Projected World’s Tallest 20 Skyscrapers in the Year 2020. Though it was only eight years ago, the pace of change in the tall building world at the time was such that 2020 seemed like a distant lodestar in the future – but it has now arrived. The CTBUH Research and Editorial teams reviewed the projections we made in 2012, the assumptions that guided them, and the roller-coaster reality of what has come hence.
Prediction: "By 2020, we can expect that at least eight megatall buildings (of 600 meters’ or greater height) will exist worldwide."
Reality: "In the second quarter of 2020, there are three megatall buildings in existence. These are the Burj Khalifa, Dubai (828 meters); Shanghai Tower, Shanghai (632 meters); and Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel (601 meters), Mecca."
Prediction: "We can predict that in a mere two decades (2000-2020), the height of the ‘World’s Tallest Building’ will have more than doubled."
Reality: The World’s Tallest Building(s) in 2000 were the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, which rise to 452 meters, each. In 2020, the Burj Khalifa remains the World’s Tallest Building at 828 meters (and has been since 2010), which is 1.8 times the height of the Petronas Twin Towers.
Prediction: "China will have 10 of the 20 world’s tallest buildings in 2020."
Reality: In 2020, China has 13 of the world’s 20 tallest buildings. The building boom was even more robust than predicted in 2012.
Prediction: "South Korea could potentially have three of the world’s 20 tallest buildings in 2020."
Reality: South Korea has one of the world’s 20 tallest buildings in 2020, Lotte World Center in Seoul (555 meters). It is currently the world’s fifth-tallest building.
Prediction: "Saudi Arabia will have two of the 20 world’s tallest buildings in 2020."
Reality: Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s 20 tallest buildings, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower.
Prediction: "The United Arab Emirates will have two of the 20 world’s tallest buildings in 2020."
Reality: The United Arab Emirates has the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa (828 meters), in Dubai.
Prediction: "Asia will house 70 percent of the world’s 20 tallest buildings in 2020 (14); the Middle East will have 25 percent (5) and North America will have just one building, or 5 percent, and the only one in the western hemisphere."
Reality: Asia in fact has 80 percent (16) of the world’s 20 tallest buildings. The Middle East has 10 percent (2); Europe has 5 percent (1); and North America has 5 percent (1).
Prediction: "South and Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, India and Vietnam, seem ready to become one of the next centers of skyscraper construction."
Reality: In general terms, the statement is borne out. In 2010, Indonesia had 39 buildings over 150 meters completed. Between 2012 and 2020, 69 more such buildings were constructed, and in 2020, 21 more were under construction. In India, 13 buildings over 150 meters were in existence. Between 2012 and 2020, 58 buildings in that range were built, and in 2020, 17 more were under construction. In Vietnam, only one building of 150 meters’ or greater height had been constructed by 2010. Between 2012 and 2020, 28 such buildings were built, and by 2020, five more were under construction.