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80 Red River, © M2 Development Partners / SOM

Nine Skyscrapers Reshaping North American Skylines

Buildings not only impact our lives, but they shape the skylines that come to define our cities. Though the vast majority of the world’s tallest structures currently under construction are in Asia, dozens of skyscrapers are under construction all across North America. All of these will have a lasting impact on the look and feel of our urban centers. We rounded up nine eye-catching projects making an undeniable visual impact on the horizon. The only criteria is that construction must be underway. Here are the most impactful buildings coming to a skyline near you:    

Texas Tower, Houston, Texas 

Credit: Hines

Renowned global developer Hines is staying busy in its own backyard. A few blocks from its global headquarters in Houston, Hines is developing a 47-story, 1.2 million square foot office tower in partnership with Ivanhoe Cambridge, joining a list of 27 other Hines-developed buildings in Downtown Houston. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, Hines is once again raising the bar in America’s fourth-largest city. Unlike most skyscrapers, Texas Tower is situated diagonally across the site, giving the building an interesting viewing angle and a unique presence slightly offset from the skyline. Despite struggling with construction timelines related to COVID-19, the project is ahead of schedule, topping out earlier this year. Anchored by a 212,000 square foot lease from law firm Vinson & Elkins, the 40 percent pre-leased office will deliver into a Houston office market picking up steam as oil prices rally. Hines will choose to manage its own flex space when its Texas Tower delivers this fall, opening an 18,000 square foot co-working space dubbed Square. Even after decades of shaping Houston, Hines continues to one-up themselves. 

111 West 57th street, NYC, New York

Credit: L C JDS Development Group

Nearly a decade in the making, one of New York City’s most ambitious projects is finally nearing completion. On a site the size of 24,00 square feet, the 84-story mega tall skyscraper will be 24 times taller than it is wide, making it the world’s most slender skyscraper. As the heights of the building grows, so too does its slim shadow over Central Park. The superstructure is a standout, even for an area of New York dubbed Billionaire’s Row. Designed by SHoP Architects, the shape of the building is unique thanks in large part to its base, the historic Steinway Hall, a designated landmark. The modern tower is built above and adjacent to the historic 1925 former home of Steinway pianos, operating as a showroom and performance hall, which will influence the building’s lobby design. Also known as Steinway Tower, construction has suffered several delays related to the pandemic. New York City’s sluggish condo market hasn’t stopped the ultra-rich from buying up units at 111 West 57th Street. When residents are finally able to move in, there will be few finer homes in all of New York City. 

Sky Tower, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Credit Hariri Pontarini Architects

Toronto will soon have another skyscraper cutting above the low-hanging clouds over Lake Ontario. At 95-stories, Hariri Pontarini Architects designed what will be Canada’s tallest residential tower upon completion. Sky Tower will be the flagship building anchoring the 4.4 million square foot waterfront mixed-use projects, where three other towers are planned by Canadian developer Pinnacle International. Construction began on the first tower, a 65-story structure dubbed The Prestige, in 2018. Sky Tower itself will house 800 condos, above a hotel on the podium levels. In total, the three towers at Pinnacle One Yonge will offer approximately 2,200 luxury condos, 1.5 million square feet of office space, and 250 hotel rooms. Construction delays have hit the project hard, nearly grinding timelines to a halt with Toronto continuing to mandate rigorous lockdowns. Progress is underway building out podiums for the site’s three future towers. Pinnacle One Yonge’s three sleek, modern towers will reshape Toronto’s waterfront skyline. Just yards from CN Tower, visitors to the tower’s iconic observation deck will soon have something new to gawk at (and block their view). 

Rainier Square Tower, Seattle, Washington 

Credit: Lease Crutcher Lewis, LLC

On the site of a former mall, Wright Runstad is building a 58-story tower designed by NBBJ. Featuring 700 luxury condos and 750,000 square feet of office space, the tower will be Seattle’s second-tallest when completed. The tower’s sleek aesthetic will be backed by unique construction techniques. 3D printed aluminum components are being used to construct the dramatic sloping curtain wall from the 4th to the 40th floors. The slope design was revised, lowering the starting level, to protect the skyline views of Seattle’s high-profile Rainier Tower next door. Instead of a concrete core, the tower relies on a system of dual cross-tied play-steel modules known as shear wall technique. Marketed by engineering firm Magnusson Klemencic Associates as “SpeedCore,” the process is like stacking legos, welding pieces together and filling gaps with concrete, cutting down construction times. Unlike other cities, Seattle’s skyline has gone decades without major updates: the Rainier Square Tower will be the tallest tower constructed in Seattle since Columbia Center in 1985. A marvel of engineering and design, Rainier Square Tower’s head will be in Seattle’s rainy clouds. 

Aston Martin Residences, Miami, Florida

Credit: Aston Martin Residences 

Now past the halfway point, the Aston Martin Residences will soon be one of the most recognizable towers in Miami’s expanding skyline. Designed by Bodas Miani Anger Arquitectos & Asociados and developed by G & G Business Developments, the tower is the car manufacturer’s first foray into real estate. As you might expect from the Aston Martin brand, the tower will exemplify luxury. During the land assembly, the team acquired 300 Biscayne Blvd, a superyacht marina to incorporate into the development, offering residents dockside arrival and moorage for yachts and superyachts. An art gallery on the 52nd floor curated by John Lennon’s son and acclaimed photographer Julian Lennon is part of the amenity offering. A portion of the apartments will be designed by Aston Martin and come with the owner’s choice of a DBX or DB11 supercar. The towers’ 3-story penthouse, going for $50 million, comes with a track-only Aston Martin Vulcan 820-horse power hypercar valued at $2.3 million. If this all sounds absolutely absurd, that’s because you can’t afford it. The 391-condo project is nearly fully leased months ahead of its completion. 

80 Red River, Austin, Texas 

Credit: M2 Development Partners / SOM

Austin is booming as the world’s largest tech companies flock to Texas’ once-sleepy State capital. With a population of fewer than 1 million residents, Austin simply hasn’t needed many skyscrapers until now. Nearly 40 towers are planned throughout Downtown Austin as the city rushes to fix looming housing and office shortages. None will be taller than 80 Red River. Currently in pre-construction, the 64-story tower will overlook Austin’s scenic Lady Bird Lake. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and developed by Genesis Real Estate Group, the project in Austin’s historic, rapidly developing Rainey Street neighborhood will add more than 1 million square feet of office, 250 hotel rooms, 150 condos, and 170 rental units. Known as The Travis, the project will eventually include a second tower. The development has not been spared from the drama that engulfs nearly every major project in Austin. Struggling for years to adapt to its rapid growth, Austin has been unable to update its dated land development code to accommodate denser growth, driving up competition for suitable sites. It’s unclear how much the project has been delayed by the pandemic, the project has brought on a second developer and architect, muddying responsibilities and timelines. With Austin’s rampant NIMBYism, moving any dirt at all in Austin is an accomplishment. 

The Sky, Mérida, Yucatán 

Credit: SkyCapital

Before the pandemic, Mexico’s economy was developing at a rapid pace. Mexico’s modernizing economy backed by liberal economic policies promoting global trade is creating enormous wealth. In the wake of COVID-19, money and jobs from tourism have dried up in the Mexican state of Yucatán, home to resort towns like Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. Now that recovery is beginning, developers are betting Mexico’s economy will get back on track towards modernization. A major part of that will be providing high-quality office space. In Yucutan, an estimated 95 percent of people work from home. Sky Capital is looking to change that, beginning construction on The Sky, a 36-story tower offering more than 300,000 square feet of office and medical space. The first skyscraper in the entire state, The Sky isn’t just shaping the skyline, it’s creating one. State Governor Mauricio Vila Dosal pointed out the construction will help with economic recovery in the region, creating more than 800 jobs during development, which is expected to be ongoing through December 2023. 

 755 S. Figueroa, Los Angeles, California 

Credit: Brookfield Properties / Large Architecture 

Construction in downtown LA has hardly missed a beat during a pandemic driving up material prices. The 10 largest projects currently under construction in LA have a combined value exceeding $3 billion. Chief among active projects is the 64-story tower at 755 S. Figueroa from Brookfield Properties. Designed by Marmol Radziner in conjunction with Large Architecture, the tower will add 785 apartments to its 1.28-acre site in L.A.’s financial district. Downtown L.A.’s skyline is going through rapid changes as dozens of projects work their way upwards. Soon they all may be eclipsed by 333 South Figueroa, a proposed 77-story tower that wouldn’t just be the tallest in L.A., but the tallest in the entire western United States. All the work is part of concerted efforts to revitalize downtown L.A. Development around Staples Center and L.A. Live have boosted Downtown L.A.’s population from 18,000 to over 85,000 over the past 20 years. All of the effort and construction was brought to a screeching halt during the pandemic. Daytime employee counts fell by an estimated 250,000. Nighttime activity dried up as live sports ended and nightlife spots were forced to lockdown. All the while, homelessness has been surging. Mayor Garcetti and others are optimistic that loosening restrictions and continued development will get downtown’s recovery back on track. 

One Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Credit: CTBUH

Chicago’s eighth tallest skyscraper topped out just days ago. A 76-story tower paired with a 49-story tower makes up the 2.2 million square megadevelopment simply named One Chicago, offering plenty to gander at from Chicago’s popular observation decks. The majority of the space is dedicated to multifamily, offering 812 rental units and 77 condos, topping out at $22 million. Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture and Goettsch Partners designed several terraces into the structure, making the supertall tower appear even larger. One Chicago is remarkable for how connected it will be to the surrounding community. Though it’s an ultra-luxury high-rise, on the ground floor, the public will have access to several event spaces, a variety of retail options,  Whole Foods, Lifetime Fitness, and three access points to Chicago’s L train system. JDL’s development is the most ambitious project in the Second City since Vista Towers, which recently delivered. The project is also a big win for urban planners, upping the density of Chicago’s River North neighborhood by upzoning a parking lot to 2.2 million square feet of space. In a city known for its towering architecture, One Chicago’s variety of inclusive offerings and transit-oriented design show you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to create something timeless.

Associate Editor
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