January 09, 2012

Future Skylines

China Broad Group built a 30 story building in 15 days and will mass factory mass produce skyscrapers. A factory has been built to produce 10 million square meters of mass produced skyscrapers (about 100 million square feet) each year. The 30 story building is 183000 square feet so the factory can produce about 500 of the 30 story building each year and many more factories will be built. There goal is to have the production of two factories for 2012. They are trimming their costs to 7,000 yuan ($1100 per square meter) to 8,000 yuan per square meter.

(NOTE- This article has been updated with pictures and a discussion of the similarity in appearance of most existing high rises and skyscrapers

The Economist Magazine business travel blog refers to this article)


The 421-meter-tall Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai's second tallest building, cost 20,000 yuan ($3,088) per square meter to build. The Broad Group method will lower China's cost of skyscraper construction by three times. The Burj Khalifa cost $5000 per square meter to build. Freedom Tower is costing about $12,000 per square meter to build.

Broad Group has detailed plans for a 666 meter tall building using their factory mass production methods.

A new skyscraper is built every five days in China. Skyscrapers are defined in the report as buildings of more than 500 feet (152.4 meters) in height. China started construction on more than 200 skyscrapers in 2011. A 32 story office building, 50 story hotel/apartment or 40 story mixed use building would be about 152.4 meters tall.




The Emporis Standards Committee (keeper of building databases) defines a skyscraper as a building over 100 meters in height. The 30 story buildings are likely 110 meters in height.

There are pictures of the evolution of the Manhattan skyline from 1900 to today and other than the rise and fall of the World Trade Center, the skyline has not made big changes in the 1970s.

Skyscraper completions and average heights over the 20th century are consistent with profit maximization.

Being able to build skyscrapers with three to ten times lower cost and up to 666 meters in height could cause a boom in taller skyscrapers.

If the targets of 700 million square meters per year is hit by 2020 (30% of all commercial construction), Broad Group will have a huge impact on skyscrapers for the urbanizing developing world. Whether there is a similar impact on skylines of developed cities will depend upon how much demolition and reconstruction there is.

There are 200 skyscrapers (152 meter definition) in the United States now and there will be about 800 skyscrapers in China by 2016.

Success with mass production of over 50 story buildings by Broad Group at lower prices could cause an increase in skyscrapers by ten to twenty times by 2025.

There still needs to be the demand for the office and other building space to justify the increased supply. Commuter and other transportation systems would have to be built up for higher density cities.

Shanghai and New York have comparable real estate prices.
Having highrise apartments with 3300 square feet of living space that cost about $500,000 would be far more demand to draw commuters living an hour or more away who are paying similar or higher prices to live in the suburbs.

Even in Manhattan the high rises are now mostly 30-50 stories tall. Broad Group would enable 90-150 stories for comparable costs.

Identical buildings and Variation

Developers in Hong Kong often have the same highrise plans and build the same building over and over again.
The same developers used the same designs when they went to Vancouver Canada

Hong Kong has several distinctive high rises but there is a lot of repetition. Look at the darker buildings in the picture of the famous Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong


New York Has its Signature Buildings but how distinctive are the bulk of the high rises ?


The main skeleton and body of the factory built high rise can be the same, but it would be easy to have some variation in the skin of the highrise. It would also be affordable to add some final architectural embellishments to give it a different look.

New York has about 5800 high rise buildings and 680 skyscrapers. There is a database of them at Emporis (along with other cities). Check out the variation in designs for the highrises and the skyscrapers. There is some variations for ones built in different eras, but there is a lot of similarity.

Emporis compares cities based on the visual impact of their skylines.

The emporis point calculation does not include TV towers, masts, bridges, or other structures. Each building is assigned points based on its floor count.

Points per Building
12 - 19 Floors = 1 Point
20 - 29 Floors = 5 Points
30 - 39 Floors = 25 Points
40 - 49 Floors = 50 Point
50 - 59 Floors = 100 Points
60 - 69 Floors = 200 Points
70 - 79 Floors = 300 Points
80 - 89 Floors = 400 Points
90 - 99 Floors = 500 Points
100 or more Floors = 600 Points


#  City  Population  Area size  Number of buildings  Number of points
1       Hong Kong       6,943,600  1,053 mi²    7,688               128,635
2       New York City   8,391,881    800 mi²    5,959                40,225
3       Chicago         2,853,114    589 mi²    1,126                19,514
4       Singapore       4,351,400    710 mi²    4,375                19,157
5       São Paulo      10,990,249  1,523 mi²    5,672                17,255
6       Seoul          10,331,244    616 mi²    2,885                17,250
7       Dubai           1,954,000  3,885 mi²      597                16,547
8       Shanghai        9,145,711  6,639 mi²      999                15,647
9       Bangkok         7,587,882  1,569 mi²      789                13,563
10      Tokyo           8,653,000    621 mi²    2,704                13,431
11      Guangzhou       6,560,500  7,434 mi²      505                11,664
12      Moscow         10,443,000  1,081 mi²    3,415                11,421
13      Toronto         2,503,281    630 mi²    1,883                 9,631

How Distinctive are the McMansion Suburbs ?

You can go a development of hundreds of houses and pick from model 1 through 4.

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