Singularly Slender: Sky Living in New York, Hong Kong, and Elsewhere

Carol Willis
Founding Director
The Skyscraper Museum, New York City

This presentation highlighted a new 21st-century skyscraper typology – the very tall and slender residential tower – and analyzed the economic, engineering, and urbanistic forces that shape them. Once built exclusively in Manhattan and Hong Kong, "pencil towers" of 80 to 100 stories and taller are now rising in a handful of other cities, including Dubai, Melbourne, Brisbane, Toronto and Mumbai. With a base-to-height ratio of at least 1:10, but with some recent designs reaching a ratio of, so far, 1:23, the super-slender phenomenon has a wide range. The presentation distinguished two types of super-slims with significantly different development strategies: the ultra-luxury towers (defined by the exclusivity of one to two units per floor) currently found only in Manhattan; and all other tall and slender towers that plan multiple apartments per floor.

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