July 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020

How tall is Supertall? The Skyscraper Museum sets its benchmark high: 1,250 feet/ 380 meters, the height of the 1931 Empire State Building. Despite an upsurge in Supertalls during the last decade, towers this tall remain exceptional: our survey counts 58.

SUPERTALL! 2020 highlights a dozen of the most extraordinary recent towers, exploring ideas about formal and structural innovation and the place of a signature skyscraper in a master-planned, mixed-use complex that creates community and value both on the ground and in the sky.

April 1, 2007 – October 14, 2007
The ambition to erect the world’s tallest building is as old as the ages, and like the pyramids or gothic cathedrals, Burj Dubai is an epoch-defining tower and an architectural and engineering marvel that tackles unprecedented challenges of design and construction. The slender supertall represents the collective effort of ninety designers in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP and a team of consulting companies. The exhibition placed Burj Dubai in both the historical context of the competition for the world’s tallest building and in the contemporary arena of Dubai’s explosive growth.
July 1, 2008 – June 30, 2009

Hong Kong, Asia’s Manhattan, is today an island of skyscrapers. Born of its deep-water harbor and constrained by its limited land and steep hillsides, the city expanded upward beginning in the 1970s, even surpassing the number of high-rises in New York in recent years. Driven by similar forces, the vertical development of Hong Kong and New York is compared in this exhibition through photography, film, architectural studies, and an analysis of the demographics and densities of the world’s most dramatic skyscraper societies. This was the second exhibition in the FUTURE CITY 20|21 cycle.

June 24, 2009 – April 11, 2010

Shanghai today is a vast metropolis of 18 million residents—the largest city in the world’s most populous nation. In just three decades, its population has nearly doubled, and the city has been physically transformed by the twin emblems of modernity—high-rises and highways. Formerly a horizontal expanse of dense and sprawling lilong neighborhoods, Shanghai has grown vertically. Nearly 400 high-rises of twenty stories or more were built in the historic core, Puxi, since 1990, and colossal elevated roads fly over old neighborhoods. In the new business district of Pudong on the east side of the river, a master plan dictates taller towers rising from open green space, culminating in a pair—soon to be a trio—of the world’s ten tallest skyscrapers. This is the third exhibition in the FUTURE CITY 20|21 cycle.

January 12, 2011 – July 7, 2011

Vertical Urban Factory features the innovative architectural design, structural engineering, and processing methods of significant factory buildings from the turn of the 20th century to the present. Now, over a century after the first large factories began to dominate our cities, the exhibition poses the question: Can factories present sustainable solutions for future self-sufficient cities?

July 27, 2011 – February 19, 2012

SUPERTALL! is an international survey of superlative towers featuring projects that have been completed since 2001, are under construction, or are expected to top out by 2016. This recent generation of giants, generally 100 stories or higher, represents a new paradigm of slender mixed-use towers that explore innovative approaches in engineering, curtain-wall and construction technologies, energy efficiency and sustainability, and concepts of vertical communities.

To distinguish the rarified air of the super- from the merely very tall, the Museum made the benchmark 380 meters/ 1,250 feet-the height of the Empire State Building-rather than the common standard of 300 meters. Worldwide, 48 projects measure up, including six towers of 600 meters or taller, six of 500+ meters, and twenty-four exceeding 400 meters. The world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, rises 828 meters/ 2,717 feet above the sands of Dubai. It will hold the record for at least five years- the typical time it takes to construct a supertall.

March 1, 2015 – March 31, 2015

Distinctive tops that add extra height to high-rises have been characteristic of New York skyscrapers from the first tall office buildings in the 1870s. The word skyscraper, after all, evokes both aerial height and a slender silhouette. The romance of Manhattan’s towers has been the inspiration and touchstone for a worldwide surge of signature tops.

TEN TOPS focuses on a group of the world’s tallest buildings: 100 stories and higher. TEN TOPS peers into their uppermost floors and analyzes the architectural features they share, including observation decks, luxury hotels and restaurants, distinctive crowns and night illumination, as well as the engineering and construction challenges of erecting such complex and astonishing structures.

March 23, 2016 – September 18, 2016
The exhibition features the work of WOHA, the Singapore architects whose tropical towers, enveloped by nature, create vertical villages with sky gardens, breeze-ways, and elevated parks.
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