“Without big dreams, there would be no tall buildings,” researchers from the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat write in a new report. “Conceiving, financing, designing, and constructing a skyscraper is no simple feat, even under the best of conditions.”
Alas, every grand architectural dream does not come to fruition, and not all skyscrapers end up reaching their ultimate heights. The researchers say that some projects suffer from “torturously slow gestation periods; many more have failed to start or were interrupted and cancelled. Naturally, we began to wonder how many tall buildings were started and not finished, and which held the records for longest construction time.”
The illustrations pictured above represent the world’s 20 tallest buildings that started works on site but were never completed as planned, as of last month. “The reasons that these designs were never fully realized are varied—some fell victim to financial obstacles, others, political pressures and cultural shifts.”
In the study, the authors note, a building is considered to be “never completed” when “site works had begun, but were completely halted, and no reports indicate that construction will continue. The site may go on to accommodate a new building, different to the original design, that may or may not retain the original construction.”
The Metropolitan Life North Annex in New York, for example, was meant to be 100 stories tall. Construction was halted in 1933 at the 31st floor and remained there when the building was completed in 1950. In 2006, construction began on the Waterview Tower in Chicago—a structure that was meant to be 1,047 feet (319 meters) and 89 stories tall—only to be halted at the 26th floor two years later. The building was ultimately redesigned, ending up at 617 feet (188 meters) tall and rebaptized OneEleven.
The Centro Financiero Confinanzas (aka Torre David) in Caracas, Venezuela, began construction in 1990 but was abandoned midproject for financial reasons. It sheltered several hundred Venezuelan families until they were relocated last July. The Pentominium in Dubai, begun in 2008, would have been the second-tallest building in the world had it been successfully completed for its target date of 2014, but only reached 30 stories when it was put on hold in 2011.
There are 50 building projects around the world 492 feet (150 meters) or taller that are currently on hold, meaning that construction began and stopped but is planned to resume.