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Ten years after 9/11, the skyscraper rises again

September 3, 2011 |  7:00 am

Absolute1

In the days and weeks after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, it became commonplace to hear pundits predicting the disappearance of the skyscraper -- as Mark Lamster points out here -- or at least that it might be a very long time before we started building very tall towers in great numbers again. Those predictions turned out to be about as wrong as they could be.

Thanks to oil money sloshing across much of the globe, a booming economy in the middle part of the last decade and -- most important of all -- a quickly urbanizing China, the skyscraper is back in a big way.

Another fascinating wrinkle in the story also has to do with China. During the 1990s and the early 2000s, as Chinese cities were expanding at a furious pace, the country could hardly import foreign architects fast enough. But now China is beginning to export its own skyscraper experts.

The eye-catchingly curvy Absolute Towers just outside Toronto, designed by the young Chinese architect Ma Yansong, are nearing completion at 56 and 50 stories tall -- a sign that China is now building other cities' skylines along with its own.

Read the Critic's Notebook on the rise of skyscrapers, post 9/11.

--Christopher Hawthorne

Photo:  The Absolute towers outside Toronto, by the Chinese architect Ma Yansong and his firm MAD Architects. Credit: Tom Arban/MAD

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