But what gets forgotten is that some of the previous "tallest buildings in the world," including some of the world's most famous skyscrapers today, were also completed during severe economic downturns and seemed like white elephants themselves in their own times. That includes the Empire State Building, which was completed in 1931 in the teeth of the Great Depression. It suffered low occupancy for many years and was nicknamed derisively the "Empty State Building." It did not turn a profit until 1950. And in its initial years the paid admission by the general public to the observation deck generated as much money as did rental income from its tenants.
Monday, January 4, 2010
The world's tallest building (by some margin) opened officially today in Dubai. A lot has been made in the news of the fact that it cost over $1.5 billion to build, and that includes, among other things, the world's highest swimming pool. But even more has been made of how it symbolizes the folly of the boom times in which it was first envisioned over five years ago, accompanied by some barely disguised schadenfreude about its undisclosed (and presumably less impressive) occupancy rate.