Construction on Over 10 Percent of all Skyscrapers Worldwide on Hold

July 29, 2009
The current economic crisis is hitting skyscraper construction especially hard.

The current economic crisis is hitting skyscraper construction especially hard. In December, Emporis, a provider of global building data, reported that 8.7 percent of all skyscrapers listed as "under construction" in its database had been put on hold. Most of those projects had been halted during the second half of 2008. According to Emporis, the United States had been hit the hardest: At the beginning of 2008, Met 3 in Miami was the only U.S. skyscraper listed as being "on hold"; by the end of 2008, 19 more skyscrapers were put on hold. From January to June of 2009, the crisis worsened. Not only have additional projects been put on hold, but high-rise construction activity in general has decreased dramatically. According to the Emporis database, 1,307 skyscrapers were under construction in December 2008. Today, that number is 1,165, 11 percent less.

From January to June of 2009, the number of skyscrapers on hold worldwide rose from 124 to 141 (an increase of 13.7 percent). Leading the decline was the United States: Eight more tall buildings were put on hold in the United States during the first half of 2009, while overall construction activity slumped. In December 2008, 203 skyscrapers were being built; by June 2009, that number had fallen to 151. During that period, only two skyscrapers began construction, one of which, the U.S. Federal Courthouse in San Diego, was a federal building. The situation also has deteriorated in Europe (December 2008: 7 of 117 projects on hold; June 2009: 11 of 112 projects on hold) and in South America (December 2008: two of 77 projects on hold; June 2009: six of 75 projects on hold). One of the best-known high-rise projects worldwide, the Russia Tower in Moscow, fell victim to the difficult financial situation and dropped out of the statistics. In South America, one of the most ambitious projects in the history of the continent, the Costanera Project in Santiago de Chile, has been halted for the time being. In Asia, it is not so much numbers of projects on hold (December 2008: 84 of 840 projects on hold; June 2009: 87 of 764 projects on hold) that point to a construction crisis, but more the decrease in construction activity as a whole. A drop of 12 percent in the space of half a year indicates there is still a great deal of construction in China, India, and Singapore, but only a few new projects have been started in the last six months. The situation in Australia did not change (December 2008: four of 36 projects on hold; June 2009: same).

In North and Central America, with the exception of the United States, construction activity is stable, and the number of skyscrapers on hold has decreased.