The 202 story Skycity skyscraper has begun construction in China and it should be completed in April to July 2014. It is projected to cost $800 million to 1.5 billion.
Some people make a big deal about the construction of skyscrapers happening just before an economic crisis. They pick 11 such skyscrapers, yet thousands of skyscrapers have been built.
A recent study by Barr, Mizrach and Mundra (2011), entitled “Skyscraper Height and the Business Cycle: International Time Series Evidence” aims to see if there is, in fact, a correlation between skyscraper height and economic growth. The study looks at two types of data. First the paper looks at the announcement and completion dates of the world’s tallest buildings and the peaks and troughs of the United States business cycle, as measured by the National Bureau of Economic Research. They find that there is virtually no relationship between the timing of record breaking buildings and the business cycle. Second, the authors investigate height and economic growth using the times series techniques of vector autoregression and cointegration tests. They investigate the time series relationship between the tallest building completed each year and the level of per capita GDP, for the United States, Canada, China and Hong Kong. The authors find that the two series are co-integrated, which means that they move together over time. That is to say, the tallest building completed each year in these countries does not systematically move away from the underlying income of the country, which provides evidence that, in general, skyscraper height is not fundamentally based on height competition among builders. Finally, the vector autoregression methods allow the authors to see if skyscraper height can predict changes in gross domestic product (GDP) (i.e., if height predict recessions). The authors find that height cannot, in fact, be used to predict changes in GDP. However, GDP can be used to predict changes in height. In other words, the study finds that extreme height is driven by rapid economic growth, but that height can not be used as an indicator of recessions.
The Central Subway is an extension of the Muni Metro light rail system in San Francisco, California, from the Caltrain commuter rail depot at 4th and King streets to Chinatown, with stops in South of Market (SoMa) and Union Square.
The budget to complete the Central Subway is $1.578 billion. The project is funded primarily through the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program. In October 2012, the FTA approved a Full Funding Grant Agreement, the federal commitment of funding through New Starts, for the Central Subway for a total amount of $942.2 million. The Central Subway is also funded by the State of California, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the City and County of San Francisco.
Ground was broken for the Central Subway on February 9, 2010. It is expected to open to the public by 2019.
Due to the capital cost ($1.578 billion for the 1.7 mile light rail line), the Central Subway project has come under criticism from transit activists for what they consider to be poor cost-effectiveness. In particular, they note that Muni’s own estimates show that the project would increase Muni ridership by less than 1% and yet by 2030 be adding $15.2 million a year to Muni’s annual operating deficit.
With an average weekday ridership of 173,500 passengers as of 2012, Muni Metro is the United States’ third-busiest light rail system after those of Boston and Los Angeles. The new Central Subway might increase ridership by 1700 passengers per day if Muni’s own projections are correct.
So similar cost buildings get built but no one talks about any skyscraper economic crisis index for them.
Similar sized and larger public projects get funded and seem to have far less potential returns and value and yet there is no attempt to link those to a grander hubris.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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