The Skyscraper Museum
Photographs of Gallery
The Skyscraper Museum

The Skyscraper Museum is devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. The Museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence. This site will look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Coming late march

How tall is Supertall? The Skyscraper Museum sets its bar at 1,250 feet/ 380 meters, the height of the Empire State Building. The popular standard of 300 meters – about 1,000 feet – favors round numbers, but represents a 19th-century standard, the Eiffel Tower. At the Paris 1889 Universal Exposition engineer Gustave Eiffel constructed the then controversial, but now beloved wrought iron tower that for the first time surpassed the height of history’s tallest structures – the ancient Egyptian pyramids, the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, and the 555-foot tall Washington Monument – which were all built of masonry.

Skyscrapers began to exceed 300 meters only in the late 1920s in New York City, where the Chrysler Building and Empire State were the only structures of that height until the 1960s. Big ambitions drove the gigantism of the Sixties, when first the World Trade Center, then Sears Tower rose beyond 400 meters to claim the title of world’s tallest building. Today, 300 meters is fairly common: there are 207 buildings worldwide that are completed or topped out of that height. That is 157 more than measure 380 meters or taller.

In 2007, The Skyscraper Museum created its first SUPERTALL survey. Even as the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11 shocked the world, the early 2000s saw a surge in international construction of supertalls, especially in the emerging economies of the Middle East and China. Completed in 2010, the Burj Khalifa, still the world’s tallest building, stretched to 2,717 feet/ 828 meters. American architects and engineers dominated these new arenas of development, exporting their expertise. The first survey counted 28 supertalls completed or under construction, as well as a few we believed would rise, but never did. In 2011, our second survey included 48 projects: of these, eight were not completed as planned.

SUPERTALL 2020 tallies 58 buildings worldwide that are completed or can be finished by 2024. This growing number represents some new spheres of ambition such as Southeast Asia and Russia. China dominates all countries with 27 towers in 16 different cities. In New York, where after 9/11 many believed that there would be no new skyscrapers, there are now six buildings taller that the Empire State and several more are planned or rumored. Superior height is not the driving force, although status and views are important in all these projects. Supertalls are expensive and exceptional buildings, but they are also now well established as 21st century type. The exhibition features about a dozen of the most extraordinary recent towers, exploring ideas about formal and structural innovation, as well as the place of a signature tower in a master-planned, mixed-use complex that creates community and value on both the ground and in the sky.