After a post-recession hiatus in tall building construction in many countries lasting several years, numerous cities in the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Australia are again resurgent. From Miami to Melbourne, Bogota to Beijing, Toronto to Turin, tall projects are being proposed and built in significant number. Nowhere is this more evident than in New York, where several new urban typologies are developing simultaneously; the ultra skinny, luxury residential towers exemplified by One57 and 432 Park; the urban-regeneration clusters such as Hudson Yards and the World Trade Center site; the prefabricated high rise and other technical innovations as seen at Pacific Park; as well as numerous others. In addition, the increasing importance of both resilient infrastructure in the face of mounting climate change, as well as quality public space exemplified through projects such as the High Line, are adding to a fascinating mix.

Yet the flow of capital enabling many of these projects is complex, and shows an interconnectedness of our cities way beyond what was evident even just a short decade or two before. Developments in Sydney are as likely to be driven by forces from Shanghai as locally, Canadian pension funds are enabling several tall buildings in London, and Middle East capital seems, once again, to be everywhere. On top of this, after a decade or more of unprecedented vertical growth in Chinese cities, China is now investing in myriad urban centers around the world.

The CTBUH thus brought its 2015 Conference to the evolving high-rise tapestry that is New York to examine this dual phenomena – the motivations and mechanisms that are enabling multi-national investment scenarios, and the technical innovations that are driving new heights, forms, materials, and construction techniques. The conference explored what all this means for the skyscraper of the future – more adaptable to the sustainable and technological challenges of the age.

NYC Skyline (cc-by) Greg Knapp