Steel was the structural material of choice for skyscrapers in America for much of the last century, but the advent of the Falzur’s tube frame system and a desire to build more elaborate buildings with better working spaces led to a shift in thinking during the latter half of the millennium. Concrete buildings not only offer designers flexibility in the shapes and designs they’re able to create, but also offer more uninterrupted and usable floor space than steel-framed buildings.
The following is a list of tallest buildings that use concrete as their main structural element. While it’s true that all concrete buildings use steel rebar to reinforce the structure, this list (compiled using Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat data) uses the following definitions.
• A steel tall building is defined as one where the main vertical and lateral structural elements and floor systems are constructed from steel.
• A concrete tall building is defined as one where the main vertical and lateral structural elements and floor systems are constructed from concrete.
• A composite tall building utilises a combination of both steel and concrete acting compositely in the main structural elements, thus including a steel building with a concrete core.
This list omits Burj Khalifa and Taipei 101 as they are considered composite buildings.
Trump International Hotel and Tower
The Trump International Hotel and Tower, also known as Trump Tower Chicago and locally as the Trump Tower, was designed by architect Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Prior to leaving the company to set up his own consultancy, Smith was the design partner at SOM, and he was key in the design and construction of the Burj Khalifa.
The skyscraper uses set-back features to blend in with the surrounding buildings. Designed using the bundled tube construction method, each of the supporting towers mirrors the height of surrounding buildings to help maintain visual continuity of the Chicago skyline.
The 92-storey building has 242,000m² of floor space and 486 luxury residential condominiums. The tower also has a luxury hotel condominium with 339 guest rooms, retail space and parking. Bovis Lend Lease constructed the tower, and went on to build the 46-storey Trump Soho tower in New York, which opened this year.
Location: Chicago, USA
When the state-owned China International Trust and Investment Company wanted someone to design its headquarters , the organisation called on a company that was well versed in the intricacies of large-scale project development.
Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers (HK) Ltd has worked on several dozen high profile projects throughout China, and the practice was drafted in to design the 390m high, 80-storey concrete CITIC Plaza in the Tianhe District of Guangzhou.
When it was completed in 1997, it was the tallest concrete building in the world. Even now, it still ranks as the sixth tallest building in China as well as the twelfth tallest building in the world.
The structural engineer was the Maunsell AECOM Group, and the building was constructed as a joint venture between Kumagai Gammon and Hong Kong Construction Ltd over a three year period between starting in 1993.
Location: Guangzhou, China
Another Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers (HK) Ltd project, the Central Plaza stands 374m high and is Hong Kong’s third tallest building.
The building’s triangular design provides 20% more of the offices with views of the harbour than would have been possible with a rectangular or square design, and the building consists of two main components: a free standing 368m office tower and a 30.5 m podium block.
The three section main tower includes the tower base which forms the main entrance and public circulation spaces; a 235m tall tower which contains 57 office floors, the observation deck and five mechanical plant floors; and the tower top which houses six mechanical plant floors and a 102m tower mast.
Time was a critical factor in building the tower, so the building was originally designed as a steel structure, but a change in plans meant that main contractor Manloze Ltd was able to build using concrete by adopting the climbing form and table form method. The use of concrete also saved the developer a considerable amount of money.
Location: Hong Kong, China
Dubai’s second tallest building, the Almas Tower was designed by WS Atkins and built by the Taisei Corporation in a joint venture with Arabian Construction Company for Nakheel over a three year period between 2005 and 2008.
The tower sits on its own artificial island in the centre of Jumeirah Lake Towers and is the tallest building within the development.
It will, however, lose its spot as Dubai’s second tallest tower once the AED 1.8 billion Emirates Park Towers development, a 1612-room twin-tower hotel and apartment property, is completed. The Emirates Park Towers development has already topped out at 365m.
According to a statement, Emirates will be ready to hand over the South Tower to Marriott International, which will operate a hotel in the tower, as scheduled in May 2011. The adjoining North Tower will be handed over in 2013. Until then, however, the Almas Tower will remain Dubai’s second tallest tower.
Location: Dubai, UAE
Shimao International Plaza
Developed by the Shimao Group, the 60-storey international plaza contains office space and a hotel complex. It has two spires on its top, which make its total construction height to 333.3 metres. The top 48 floors house the five-star, ultra-luxurious Le Royal Meridien Shanghai hotel.
It was designed by ECADI and Ingenhoven Overdiek and Partners, while ECADI and Happold Consulting Engineers were jointly responsible for the structural engineering on the project. The complex was built between 2001 and 2006 by main contractor Shanghai Construction.
Location: Shanghai, China
Use: Hotel /commercial
According to The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the world’s tallest residential-only tower is the 323m, 78-storey Q1 Tower in Queensland, Australia when measured up to the top of its highest structural component.
The Eureka Tower in Melbourne is actually taller when measured to the roof – and its highest floor sits above that of the Q1 – but TCTBUH’s rules place it below the Q1 in the rankings. The Q1 tower was designed by the Sunland Group and built by the company’s own construction wing, Sunland Constructions.
It took three years to build and is not only Queensland’s tallest tower, but is the tallest building in Australia. The Sky Tower in Auckland remains the tallest structure in Oceania, at 328m.
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
Hong Kong’s impressive skyline is peppered with many staggering buildings, and it’s hard to believe that the Nina Tower’s 80-storeys and 319m only stand it as the sixth tallest in the city.
The Nina Tower was originally supposed to be 518m high, but its location close to the city airport meant that plans had to change. The tower was split in to two separate buildings and the shorter of the two was named after the late Nina Wang, the owner of Chinachem Group.
The taller of the two is named Teddy Tower, symbolising her husband Teddy Wang. The whole development is simply known as the Nina Tower. The project is another designed by Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers, while Arthur CS Kwok and Casa Design International were also involved in the process. Arup acted as structural and MEP engineer.
Location: Hong Kong, China
Use: Hotel /commercial
At 318m, the 72-storey HHHR Tower is Dubai tallest all residential concrete tower and sits alongside Sheik Zayed Road. It was designed by architect Al Hashemi and was built as a joint venture between Dubai’s Al Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading and Hong Kong-based Hip Hing Overseas.
The project was the first joint venture between the two companies. They’re currently working on projects for the Masdar carbon-free city. Al Ahmadiah’s portfolio also includes projects in Jumeirah (Business Centre Tower, Phase 1, Beach Residence) and the Al Marooj Complex – three 12-storey residential towers and one 14-story five-star hotel with all amenities, for its client Dubai International Real Estate.
Location: Dubai, UAE
Baiyoke Tower 2
Thailand’s tallest building rounds out or collection of 10 tallest concrete towers in the world. The tower contains the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, the tallest hotel in Southeast Asia and the fourth-tallest all-hotel structure in the world, with 673 guest rooms.
The tower tops out at 304m, including the antenna and it has 85 floors with a public viewing floor at level 77. It also has a bar on the 83rd floor and a 360-degree revolving roof deck on the top level.
The building was developed by Land Development, the company behind Hiong Kong’s The Centre, and built by main contractor Concrete Constructions. In 2012, it will be usurped as Thailand’s tallest tower by the Ocean 1 building in Pattaya, a 367m, 91 floor residential tower designed by internationally acclaimed architects Woods Bagot.
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Emirates Tower Two
It’s hard to believe that the twin Emirates Towers at the head of Sheik Zayed Road in Dubai have already reached their tenth anniversary.
The triangular design and location of the towers has been emblematic of Dubai’s rising commercial strength, and both towers have presided over the development of the avenue of towers that now lines each side of the highway.
The two towers were designed by NORR Architects, Engineers and Planners and structural engineering was done by Hyder Consulting. Besix and Nasa Multiplex were main contractors on both towers, and, surprisingly, the CTBUH lists Tower 1 as a composite building, and Tower 2 as a concrete structure. Tower 2 has 400 hotel rooms and 56 floors serviced by 12 elevators. At 309m, it is the shorter of the two towers. Tower 1 stands 355m but has a similar number of floors by virtue of the fact that the offices have higher ceilings.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.