[FOUNTAIN]When is right time to build skyscrapers?The word “skyscraper” was first used in Chicago in 1885 to refer to very tall buildings. The 10-story Home Insurance Building, which was 60 meters (196.8 feet) tall, was the first of its kind. The Home Insurance Building was also the first structure to be supported by a metal skeleton instead of bricks.
The 381-meter-tall Empire State Building in New York City has been the most famous skyscraper since it was completed in 1931. Until the 1950s, the 102-story building used more electricity than the total electricity consumption of Korea.
The honor of the tallest building in the world went to the 110-story, 417 meter-tall World Trade Center in New York City in 1972. Then Chicago’s Sears Tower became the world’s tallest building in 1974, at 443 meters. Although the Sears Tower was as tall as the World Trade Center, the former has a 26-meter-tall spire at the top.
The desire to build the tallest building spread to Asia in the late 20th century. In 1998, Malaysia built 452-meter Petronas Towers, and Taiwan completed 508-meter-tall Taipei 101 tower in 2003.
Recently, yet another skyscraper project was announced: Dubai plans to erect a residential and commercial complex by 2008 that will be over 160 stories. Samsung Corporation, which built the Taipei and Malaysia towers, won the Dubai project as well.
There is a “blue sky” theory of economics regarding skyscrapers: Nations seem to suffer recessions after finishing a skyscraper. The Empire State building in 1931 was completed just as the Great Depression was getting under way, and the U.S. economy slumped after the construction of the World Trade Center in 1971. Also, the completion of the Petronas Tower coincided with the financial crisis in Asia.
They might be coincidences, but often the construction of a skyscraper begins during the pinnacle of an economic boom, and by the time it is completed, the economy is often in a recession.
In Korea, many plans for skyscrapers have been announced. Lotte Group said it wants to build a 112-story Lotte World in Jamsil, its second in Seoul, and a 107-story Busan Lotte World. Also, Seoul wants to build a 130-story building in Sangam-dong. However, the projects are stalled for various reasons. It might not be the right time to build a skyscraper, according to the “blue sky” theory, as the nation is suffering from an extreme slump.
by Lee Se-jung
The writer is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.