Data and Report
Created by
Year in Review
Kindly Sponsored by
CTBUH 2020 Year in Review 53% of building completions being to China Central Park Tower 472 m, New York is 2020's tallest building Dubai 12 completions over 200m 16 cities have a new tallest building London completes most-ever 200m+ buildings 0 buildings over 500 meters built this year T.Op Torre 1 is Mexico's first supertall
One Vanderbilt, New York City © Raimund Koch

Tall Buildings in 2020: COVID-19 Contributes to Dip in Year-On-Year Completions

For many people, 2020 will be remembered as the year that nothing went to plan. The same can be said for the tall building industry. As a global pandemic took hold in the first quarter, numerous projects around the world, at various stages, ground to a halt as restrictions on assembly came into force. It is therefore not surprising that 2020 yielded 106 completions of buildings 200 meters and taller, a 20 percent decline from 133 in 2019, and nearing a level last seen in 2014, when 105 such buildings were constructed.

This is the second year in a row in which the completion figure declined. In 2019, the reasons for this were varied, though the efforts of China to curtail its debt, combined with public policy statements against needless production of exceedingly tall buildings, constituted a strong factor that has persisted into 2020.

Completions Timeline

Interactive graphic: please hover over columns to explore further.

The tallest building to complete in 2020 was Central Park Tower in New York City, at 472 meters. This is the first time in five years in which the tallest completed building was not in China, and the first time since 2014, when One World Trade Center completed, that the tallest building of the year was in the United States.

This is also the first year since 2014 in which there has not been at least one building taller than 500 meters completed.

There were 106 completions of 200-meter-plus buildings, a 20% decline from 2019.

Schindler 2020 Completions

One Vanderbilt
© Raimund Koch

One Vanderbilt

Height: 427 m / 1,401 ft

City: New York City

Twin Towers Guiyang
© Hao Li

Twin Towers Guiyang

Height: 335 m / 1,099 ft

City: Guiyang

World One
© Lodha Group

World One

Height: 280 m / 918 ft

City: Mumbai

Cadre City Plaza
© Peng Jiao

Cadre City Plaza

West Tower Height:

257 m / 843 ft

East Tower Height:

202 m / 72 ft

City: Guangzhou

Pullman Doha West Bay
© Terri Meyer Boake

Pullman Doha West Bay

Height: 208 m / 682 ft

City: Doha

Ningbo Guohua Financial Tower
© Ningbo Huakai Properties Limited

Ningbo Guohua Financial Tower

Height: 206 m / 676 ft

City: Ningbo

2020 Completions

Schindler building*

Rank Building Name City Floors m ft
1 Central Park Tower New York City, United States 98 472 1550
2 One Vanderbilt New York City, United States 59 427 1401
3 Nanning China Resources Tower Nanning, China 87 403 1321
4 Guiyang International Financial Center T1 Guiyang, China 79 401 1316
5 Shum Yip Upperhills Tower 1 Shenzhen, China 80 388 1273
6 St. Regis Chicago Chicago, United States 101 363 1191
7 NEVA TOWERS 2 Moscow, Russia 79 345 1132
8 Heartland 66 Office Tower Wuhan, China 60 339 1112
9 Parc1 Tower I Seoul, South Korea 68 338 1109
10 Hengqin International Finance Center Zhuhai, China 69 338 1108
11 SLS Dubai Dubai, United Arab Emirates 78 336 1102
= 12 Twin Towers Guiyang, East Tower Guiyang, China 74 335 1099
= 12 Twin Towers Guiyang, West Tower Guiyang, China 74 335 1099
14 Jinan Center Financial City A5-3 Jinan, China 69 333 1093
15 Xiangjiang Fortune Finance Center Tower 1 Changsha, China 65 327 1073
16 Australia 108 Melbourne, Australia 100 317 1039
17 Shenzhen Bay Innovation and Technology Centre Tower 1 Shenzhen, China 69 311 1021
18 Amna Tower Dubai, United Arab Emirates 75 307 1007
19 T.Op Torre 1 Monterrey, Mexico 64 305 1002
20 Jumeirah Gate Dubai, United Arab Emirates 78 303 994
21 OCT Tower Shenzhen, China 60 300 984
22 NEVA TOWERS 1 Moscow, Russia 65 297 974
23 Shimao Qianhai Center Shenzhen, China 62 294 966
24 World One Mumbai, India 76 280 918
25 World View Mumbai, India 76 278 912
26 ICD Brookfield Place Dubai, United Arab Emirates 54 282 926
27 Qiantan Center Shanghai, China 56 280 919
28 Boulevard Point Dubai, United Arab Emirates 69 280 918
29 Twentytwo London, United Kingdom 62 278 913
30 Fortune Jinmao Tower A Lanzhou, China 57 278 912
31 Guiyang International Financial Center T2 Guiyang, China 54 275 902
= 32 Commercial Union Centre 1 Nanchang, China 58 272 892
= 32 Commercial Union Centre 2 Nanchang, China 57 272 892
34 One Barangaroo Sydney, Australia 71 271 890
35 99 Hudson Street Jersey City, United States 76 271 889
36 R&F Riverside New City - Ritz-Carlton Hotel Harbin, China 56 270 885
37 Fangda Building Zhuhai, China 41 264 867
38 Xiangjiang Fortune Finance Center Tower 2 Changsha, China 52 262 859
39 Nathani Heights Mumbai, India 72 262 858
40 Parc1 Tower II Seoul, South Korea 52 261 855
41 Landmark Tower Haikou, China 51 260 853
42 Rainier Square Tower Seattle, United States 58 260 852
43 Cadre City Plaza West Tower Guangzhou, China 60 257 843
44 Permata Sapura Tower Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 53 252 828
45 UCC Huanyu Huijin Center Tower 1 Dongguan, China 58 250 820
46 110 North Wacker Chicago, United States 55 250 817
47 Shenzhen Bay Innovation and Technology Centre Tower 2 Shenzhen, China 53 247 811
48 Greenland Center Hefei, China 58 240 787
49 Landmark Pinnacle London, United Kingdom 77 233 765
50 Hotel Safi Metropolitan San Pedro Garza García, Mexico 56 233 764
51 Wuhan International Trade Center A Wuhan, China 45 233 764
52 Palm Tower Dubai, United Arab Emirates 53 231 760
53 Samba银行总部大厦 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 40 231 758
54 130 William Street New York City, United States 61 230 755
= 55 International Air Service Center Tower 1 Shanghai, China 52 230 755
= 55 Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk Dubai, United Arab Emirates 50 230 755
= 55 China Construction Bank Building 2 Shenzhen, China 40 230 755
58 Emaar Square The Address Hotel & Residences Istanbul, Turkey 50 229 753
= 59 Huizhong Development Center Tower B Changsha, China 50 228 748
= 59 Huizhong Development Center Tower A Changsha, China 47 228 748
61 Changchun International Finance Center Tower 1 Changchun, China 47 226 741
62 Jumeirah Living Marina Gate Dubai, United Arab Emirates 56 224 736
63 Brooklyn Point New York City, United States 57 220 723
64 Newfoundland London, United Kingdom 59 220 721
65 Ganzhou Baoneng Center Ganzhou, China 43 218 715
66 Nanjing Financial City Phase II Tower 3 Nanjing, China 217 712
67 Gold Times Square Block A Jinan, China 47 216 709
68 Dongying World Finance Center Dongying, China 48 215 705
69 Valiant Tower London, United Kingdom 68 214 704
70 The Politan Aqua West Tower Nonthaburi, Thailand 61 214 703
71 25 Park Row New York City, United States 54 214 702
72 Sinotrans Logistic Centre Shenzhen, China 213 698
73 Yongwei Times Square Xi’an, China 43 212 696
74 The Tower Yokohama Kitanaka Yokohama, Japan 58 212 695
= 75 LOHAS Park LP6 Tower 1 Hong Kong, China 63 212 695
= 75 LOHAS Park LP6 Tower 2 Hong Kong, China 63 212 695
77 Hengmingzhu Financial Building Shenzhen, China 211 691
78 Ziyuanyuan Tower Shenzhen, China 47 210 689
79 Hengli Center 1 Suzhou, China 51 209 686
80 Takeshiba Urban Redevelopment Project District A Tokyo, Japan 39 208 684
= 81 The Politan Aqua East Tower Nonthaburi, Thailand 61 208 682
= 81 Pullman Doha West Bay Doha, Qatar 52 208 682
= 83 Harbour Views Tower 1 Dubai, United Arab Emirates 51 207 679
= 83 Harbour Views Tower 2 Dubai, United Arab Emirates 51 207 679
= 83 Alibaba South Tower Guangzhou, China 37 207 679
86 Ningbo Guohua Financial Tower Ningbo, China 45 206 677
= 87 LOHAS Park LP6 Tower 3 Hong Kong, China 61 206 675
= 87 LOHAS Park LP6 Tower 5 Hong Kong, China 61 206 675
= 89 Shengjing Finance Plaza R1 Shenyang, China 60 205 672
= 89 Shengjing Finance Plaza R2 Shenyang, China 60 205 672
= 89 Shengjing Finance Plaza R4 Shenyang, China 60 205 672
= 89 Shengjing Finance Plaza R5 Shenyang, China 60 205 672
= 89 Shengjing Finance Plaza R6 Shenyang, China 60 205 672
= 89 Shengjing Finance Plaza R7 Shenyang, China 60 205 672
= 89 Shengjing Finance Plaza R8 Shenyang, China 60 205 672
= 89 Shengjing Finance Plaza R9 Shenyang, China 60 205 672
97 RP Heights Dubai, United Arab Emirates 50 204 669
98 R&F Riverside New City - Office Tower 1 Harbin, China 42 203 668
99 Wolf Point East Tower Chicago, United States 60 203 668
100 Cadre City Plaza East Tower Guangzhou, China 43 202 663
101 Deansgate Square South Tower Manchester, United Kingdom 66 200 658
= 102 Garden Towers 1 Makati, Philippines 54 200 656
= 102 BLVD Heights Tower 1 Dubai, United Arab Emirates 53 200 656
= 102 Acro Seoul Forest Tower A Seoul, South Korea 49 200 656
= 102 Acro Seoul Forest Tower B Seoul, South Korea 49 200 656
= 102 Otemachi One Tower Tokyo, Japan 39 200 656

Effects of COVID-19

As with most other enterprises, the degree to which the COVID-19 pandemic directly affected the construction schedule of a tall building in 2020 was highly variable in relation to local regulations and the ability of the contractor to keep a sufficient number of workers on-site. CTBUH is anecdotally aware of nine projects across Malaysia, India and Brazil whose completion schedules were pushed into 2021 as a direct consequence of COVID-19. There were mandated work stoppages in cities such as New York and San Francisco, though these could not be traced to any specific delays. As tall buildings are often lagging economic indicators, any chilling effect that economic conditions or work interruptions may have had on new project starts, or projects that were under construction in 2020 and were scheduled to be completed in 2021 or later, remains to be seen. It must be remembered, the economic crisis of 2008 was not reflected on skylines, in terms of lower completion rates, until 2010 and 2011.

Key Worldwide Market Snapshots

It can be assumed that many more projects than discussed previously encountered difficulties due to COVID-19, if indirectly. One project in New York became embroiled in a zoning dispute. Work on Baku Tower was halted due to Azerbaijan’s military conflict with Armenia.

China alone still completed more than half the total buildings in the study (56), down from 57 in 2019 and 92 in 2018.

Asia (excluding the Middle East) accounted for 66 percent of the global total, compared to a 69 percent share in 2019.

The second-most prolific country was the United Arab Emirates, which completed twelve 200-meter-plus buildings, followed by the United States with 10, and the United Kingdom with five.

India completed three 200-meter-plus buildings in 2020, all of which are in Mumbai, and two of which, World One and World View, are in the same complex, and are the city’s and country’s new first- and second-tallest buildings.

Mexico had two entries in the 200-meter-plus club, with Monterrey, the northern industrial capital and its well-heeled neighbor San Pedro Garza Garcia each contributing one completion. T.Op Torre 1 in Monterrey (305 meters), is the first supertall to complete in Mexico. It is notable that this occurred outside Mexico City, traditionally the locus of the nation’s tall building activity.

Country Completions, 2020

Interactive graphic: please hover over columns to explore further.


The most prolific skyscraper-building city this year was Dubai, with 12 completions, accounting for all of the UAE’s 200-meter-plus buildings and topping its 2019 total by three. The last time Dubai held this title was 2010, the year the world’s current tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, was completed.

Dubai had 12 completions, accounting for all of the UAE’s 200 m+ buildings this year, 3 more than 2019.

This broke the streak of Shenzhen, which was the world-champion city four times in a row from 2015 to 2019. In 2020, Shenzhen completed nine such buildings, down from 18 in 2019, dropping the south China megacity to second place.

City Completions, 2020

Interactive graphic: please hover over columns to explore further.

City Records

There were 16 cities to get a new tallest building, down from 19 in 2018 and 20 in 2019, as shown below.

Schindler building*

Cities With Two Tallest Buildings in One Year

New York City had the two tallest buildings to complete in 2020, Central Park Tower, at 472 meters, and One Vanderbilt, at 427 meters.

It is quite rare for one city to claim the tallest two buildings to complete in a given year – but this is the fourth time this has occurred in New York City for buildings 200 meters and higher. The first time, in 1930, the Bank of Manhattan Building (283 meters) briefly became the world’s tallest building, but was surpassed by a cleverly-disguised spire inside the crown of the Chrysler Building (319 meters), which was raised at the last minute to claim the title.

The second time was the year after – 1931, when the Empire State Building (381 meters) and Twenty Exchange (The City Bank Farmers Trust Building) (226 meters) were. The third was in 1963, when the MetLife (Pan Am) Building (246 meters) and 277 Park Avenue (209 meters) both completed. The two original World Trade Center towers (No. 1, North Tower, 417 meters, 1972; and No. 2, South Tower, 415 meters, 1973) completed in different years.

In the entire history of skyscraper construction, the two tallest buildings to complete in a given year (of 200 meters’ or greater height) have only occurred in the same city on 10 occasions. Other cities to have had this distinction include Chicago (1969 and 1989), Houston (1982 and 1983), Kuala Lumpur (1998), and Dubai, in 2000.

New York had the two tallest buildings to complete in 2020, Central Park Tower (472 m) and One Vanderbilt (427 m).

Boom Before Brexit?

CC BY 2.0 Matt Brown


Height: 278 m / 912 ft

City: London

Landmark Pinnacle
© Canary Wharf Group

Landmark Pinnacle

Height: 233 m / 764 ft

City: London

© Canary Wharf Group


Height: 218 m / 715 ft

City: London

Valiant Tower
© Foster + Partners

Valiant Tower

Height: 215 m / 705 ft

City: London

UK: Boom Before Brexit?

In 2020, London completed four buildings over 200 meters – the most in any year – despite shadows hanging over the city as the UK moves to finalize its exit from the European Union, which is expected to reduce office demand. London had only completed five such buildings before in its entire history, and never more than one in a year. Three of the four are in Canary Wharf, the financial district purpose-built to kick off London’s “Big Bang” of financial deregulation in the mid-1980s, turning it into the finance world’s front door to Europe. Notably, three of the four are residential or combination residential/hotel towers (and all in Canary Wharf), and only one, Twentytwo is an office building in London’s traditional financial center, the City.

Not to be outdone, Manchester had something of a tower boom as well. Deansgate Square South Tower topped out at 200.5 meters, giving Manchester a new tallest building, besting the 169-meter Beetham Tower, completed in 2006.

London completed 4 buildings over
200 m – the most in any year.

The 20 Tallest Buildings to Complete in 2020

Impact on World’s 100 Tallest

World's 100 Tallest by Region

Interactive graphic: please hover over chart to explore further.


From a regional perspective, the relative share of the 100 tallest buildings in North America grew slightly year-on-year, while Asia’s share held steady. In 2020, North America represented 14 percent of the world’s 100 tallest buildings (up 1 percent from 2019), with Asia accounting for 61 percent (unchanged from 2019) and the Middle East, 20 percent (down 2 percent from 2019). At the end of the previous decade, in 2010, the shares were 31 percent for North America, 42 percent for Asia, and 22 percent for the Middle East.

World's 100 Tallest by Function

Interactive graphic: please hover over chart to explore further.


In terms of function, 36 percent of the 100 tallest buildings worldwide were office-only in 2020. Forty-nine percent were mixed use, 11 percent were residential, and 4 percent were hotel-only. The office and hotel shares were unchanged from 2019, but mixed-use declined by 2 percent and residential-only increased by 2 percent. In 2010, 61 percent of the world’s 100 tallest buildings were office-only, 24 percent were mixed-use, 5 percent were hotel-only, and 10 percent were residential.

World's 100 Tallest by Material

Interactive graphic: please hover over chart to explore further.


With respect to materials, in 2020, the 100 tallest buildings were 9 percent all-steel construction (compared to 8 percent in 2019), 29 percent concrete (unchanged from 2019), 58 percent composite (1 percent lower than 2019), and 4 percent mixed structures (unchanged from 2019). A “composite” structure uses a combination of two or more materials in the main structural elements, such as concrete-filled steel tubes. A “mixed” structure uses two distinct systems, one on top of the other. In 2010, the share of all-steel buildings in the tallest 100 was 23 percent; concrete represented 40 percent of the total; 31 percent were composite structures; 5 percent were mixed and 1 building was marked as “unknown.”

The prevailing trends of the past decade have continued to manifest in 2020, with some minor variations. There has been a general trend toward greater use of composite structures and a mix of uses in the 100 tallest buildings since at least 1980. Both of these trends can be seen as reflections of owner/developers’ risk-limiting exercises. Using combinations of steel and concrete plays to the strengths of both of those materials, while offsetting the weaknesses.

Likewise, given the long lead times and great expense involved in planning and constructing tall buildings, particularly the very tallest, having a variety of uses spread throughout the building means that volatility in one market sector will not solely determine the fate of the building’s profitability. The two most relevant examples recently were the 2008 financial crash, which heavily affected residential financing and construction, and the current questions around how much office space the world will need, and how quickly business and leisure hotel occupancy demand will recover, once COVID vaccines are widely available.

The year-to-year variations are not as significant as the decade-by-decade trends, due to the long lead times as mentioned above. It is interesting that North America as a region increased its share of the 100 tallest between 2019 to 2020, but at one percent across one year, it is not statistically significant. The significant trend lines will become obvious closer to 2030.

World's 100 Tallest Average Building Height

Interactive graphic: please hover over chart to explore further.


The average height of the 20 tallest buildings declined to 351 meters, down from 377 meters in 2019 (the highest figure recorded in 20 years). The average height of all buildings 200 meters and higher to complete in 2020 was 254 meters, down from 264 meters in 2019 (which was also a 20-year record high at the time).

Conclusions and Interpretation

As mentioned above, it is reasonable to assume that far more projects were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic than the nine projects CTBUH was able to confirm. Yet this is also the second year in which a decline in the number of completions was recorded, so COVID-19 is not the only cause. Individual cases of financial difficulty happen each year, as do conflicts with local citizen groups or governments over zoning or other permissions. Warfare, while less common, was in 2020 implicated in at least one project (Baku Tower, Baku, Azerbaijan) not completing on schedule.

While the revelation of new strictures in China made headlines earlier this year, it is not likely to have affected the 2020 total, which is only one building less than was completed in 2019. The more prodigious drop in production of 200-meter-plus buildings, from 92 to 57, had already occurred between 2018 and 2019. Nevertheless, the combination of earlier directives counseling against “oversized, xenocentric, and weird” buildings issued in 2016, as well as subsequent local height restrictions have likely conspired to slow the march of exceedingly tall building construction in China, compared to the peaks reached mid-decade.

On the positive side, however, United Arab Emirates is seeing a resurgence, recording more completions (12) than in any year since 2011 (14). The UAE had nine completions in 2019 and 10 in 2018. Considering that the US records were 14 completions in both 2018 and 2019, and the relative sizes of the two economies, this is an impressive output by any measure.

Predictions for 2021

Based on current counts, CTBUH predicts that between 125 and 150 buildings of 200 meters’ or greater height will be completed in 2021. Of these, between 14 and 30 will likely be supertalls (buildings of at least 300 meters’ height).

Looking at the top 30 projected completions in 2021, 18 are in China, five are in the United States, and three are in Saudi Arabia. All of the buildings coming online in Riyadh next year are part of the massive King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), which will comprise some 50 buildings upon completion, though it would be pure speculation to estimate a completion date for the entire complex. In any case, 11 will have completed by the end of 2020, and its signature landmark, the 385-meter PIF Tower, will be among the Class of 2021, in any case. Notable regional highlights include the Central Asian cities of Baku, Azerbaijan, where the war-delayed Baku Tower looks set to complete in 2021; and Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, where Abu Dhabi Plaza is likely to complete. Both of these would become the tallest buildings in their respective countries.

It is reasonable to predict that COVID-19 will affect investment and construction for some time to come. It is already the case that some projects expected to have completed by the end of 2021 are being moved to 2022, including the 644-meter Merdeka PNB118 in Kuala Lumpur, a change that its developers have directly attributed to Malaysia’s Movement Control Order, which the country issued in response to the pandemic.

Having said this, it is notable that the two tallest buildings estimated to complete in 2021, Riverview Plaza A1, Wuhan (436 meters), and 111 West 57th Street, New York City (435 meters), are in the two cities that were, by many measures, hit hardest and earliest by the 2020 pandemic. This could be taken as a symbol of the resilience of cities and the tall building industry as well. It is also possible that the availability of vaccines and other positive developments in the battle against the pandemic will restore confidence by mid-year, which gives CTBUH additional confidence in the predicted range of 125 to 150 completions for 2021.