Buildings sometimes never make it from design to completion, stalling for a number of reasons including financial difficulties, political pressures, and cultural shifts. A recent report by the nonprofit Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) dug into the status of unrealized skyscrapers around the world, revealing that a total of 50 buildings worldwide measuring at least 150 meters (492 feet) in height are currently stalled but plan to resume construction.
In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai’s Nakheel Tower tops the CTBUH's chart of the 20 tallest "never-completed buildings," which the report defines as projects for which site work began but was completely stopped with no reports indicating that construction will continue. The site may then host a new building, different from the original design, whether or not it retains the original construction.
Construction on Nakheel Tower, which would have been the world’s tallest building at a proposed 3,281 feet, began in 2008 but stopped only a year later due to the developer's financial problems. New York–based Pei Partnership Architects conceived the original design, but global firm Woods Bagot later adopted the plan.
Nakheel Tower is one of five unfinished buildings proposed in Dubai in the last decade that would have exceeded 300 meters (984 feet) had they been completed—highlighting the uncertainty of the construction market in a city home to some of the world's tallest buildings.
On the CTBUH's list, six unrealized skyscrapers would have surpassed 500 meters (1,640 feet) in height and if completed, would be included in the current rankings of the world's ten tallest buildings.
CTBUH's research names Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, as the record-holder for longest construction period by a margin more than seven years longer than the next contender. Construction began on the 330-meter (1,083-foot) building in 1987. According to the project's website, the building should have opened in 1989 and would have been in the tallest hotel in the world and the seventh largest skyscraper at that time. Designed by North Korean firm Baikdoosan Architects & Engineers, the project initially stalled in 1989 due to "method and material problems" and was cancelled in 1992 due to a lack of funding and electricity shortages.
Homepage image: Nakheel Tower, courtesy Woods Bagot
Find the full CTBUH report here.