By Shazia Khan www.ny1.com
When it first opened in 1931, the Empire State Building was the tallest tower in the world. But as a new exhibition in the Skyscraper Museum shows, it’s anything but lonely at the top. NY1’s Shazia Khan filed the following report.
There’s tall and then there’s “supertall,” a new way to define a class of buildings scaling extraordinary heights. The industry’s benchmark is 300 meters or about 1,000 feet, but for the new exhibition exploring the elevated elite, the Skyscraper Museum in Battery Park City raised the standard to 380 meters, the height of the Empire State Building.
“Supertall!” looks at all the buildings in the world that are completed or are expected to be completed within the next five years, including One and Two world trade center.
“After 9/11 there was, of course, such trauma and so many people projected and predicted that there would be no more skyscrapers. That the anxiety, that the fear factor, that the investment in buildings as substantial as this just wouldn’t be undertaken. But this exhibition certainly proves that wrong,” says Skyscraper Museum founder Carol Wills. “So this is a tremendous proliferation that one sees around the world of the embrace of, really, the American invention of the skyscraper.”
As the exhibition shows through renderings, models and photographs, by 2016 the United States will be home to only five supertalls in total, compared to 11 in the Middle East and 20 in China.
“Chinese cities are under going tremendous urbanization and modernization, and with 1.3 billion people in China, it’s the demand that’s driving this construction,” says Wills.
Though the geography of the supertall has shifted from the United States to the Middle East and Asia in the 21st century, American architects and engineers are the principal designers of many of the buildings — including the world’s tallest, the Burj Khalifa, which opened a year ago in Dubai.
“If you took the Sears tower in Chicago and put the Empire State Building on top of it, it would be still shorter than the Burj Khalifa,” says Wills.
Learn more at “Supertall!” which is on view at the Skyscraper Museum through January.