The year 2012 in skyscrapers

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat provides a review of skyscraper trends in 2012:

For the first time in six years the number of tall buildings completed annually around the world declined in 2012, as the consequential effects of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis became evident in tall building construction in many Western countries. Sixty-six buildings taller than 200 meters were completed during 2012, the third most in history, but down from the 82 finished in 2011. This number of completions was slightly lower than expected, with some projects under construction delayed or stalled. However, several of the projects forecast to finish in 2012 are now expected to complete in 2013 and 2014, with global completion numbers expected to rise again next year…

With the addition of 66 buildings in 2012, the global number of buildings taller than 200 meters has almost tripled since 2000, increasing from 263 to 756 at the end of 2012. The recent slowdown in the West was partially offset by tall building construction in the Middle East and Asia, particularly China. In total, 35 buildings taller than 200 meters were completed in Asia in 2012 and 16 in the Middle East. In contrast, six were completed in North America, including only two in the United States, which once dominated tall building development.

Several factors are spurring this move toward taller development. The limited availability of land in urban centers is driving up prices and prompting developers to build taller to recoup their investments. Several countries, including China, are also in the midst of a dramatic shift from rural to urban economies. In addition, new technologies and building systems are increasing the efficiency of tall buildings, allowing developers to cost-effectively create taller projects.

But the biggest factor, in some cities, is a sharp increase in prices for luxury apartments. In New York, a full-floor apartment in One57, a project still under construction, sold for $90 million in 2012. Forty-one of the tallest 100 projects completed in 2012 featured a residential component. Early in 2012, 23 Marina earned the title of world’s tallest residential building at 393 meters. A few months later the 413-meter Princess Tower completed construction, taking the title of world’s tallest all-residential building. The four tallest residential buildings in the world are now located in Dubai.

There are some good images here, interesting charts, and fun facts including only two buildings over 200 meters (roughly 656 feet) were constructed in the United States in the last year. Overall, it looks like there are some clear trends including a lot of building in China and the Middle East and more tall buildings used for residential and mixed-use purposes.

And if you are keeping track of the tallest buildings constructed in recent years, here is a handy chart:

This reminds me that the Trump Tower in Chicago was a more significant building than I tend to give it credit for…

President Obama and Republicans fighting over the votes of the “monied burbs”

President Obama’s campaign is looking to target voters in the “monied burbs” as part of their broader election strategy:

In his 2008 victory, Mr. Obama broke through among several important voter groups. Exit polls showed that he carried suburbanites, college graduates and those earning more than $200,000.

Mr. Obama won handily in areas that the research organization Patchwork Nation calls “Monied ’Burbs.” Residents of these high-income suburbs, which add up to roughly a quarter of the United States population, tend to be less religious and more tolerant of homosexuality and abortion rights, said Dante Chinni, Patchwork Nation’s director.

They narrowly backed Republicans in the 2010 House elections. Their disappointment over the economy cloud Mr. Obama’s 2012 re-election prospects.

But their distance from the Republican right on social issues gives Mr. Obama a tool for fighting back…

Republicans have their own strong economic arguments for upscale suburbanites, including Mr. Obama’s proposals to raise taxes on households earning more than $250,000. Those will echo Democrats’ 2004 warnings to working-class voters — that social issues obscured how Mr. Bush had hurt their pocketbooks.

The idea of the “monied burbs” was covered in more detail in Our Patchwork Nation. The description in this particular NYT article sounds suspiciously like David Brook’s Bobos, educated suburbanites who are attracted by the suburb’s good schools, single-family homes, and emphasis on family but are more liberal on a number of social issues.

I wonder if we could go so far as to suggest that the suburbs will decide the 2012 elections: will the independent voters in “monied burbs” and inner-ring suburbs vote for President Obama or a Republican challenger? We have some evidence (also here) that these voters helped decide the most recent elections. Does this mean we will have an uptick in rhetoric about the American Dream and homeownership?

One chart that situates the 2012 Republican presidential contenders

One of the key purposes of a chart or graph is to distill a lot of complicated information into a simple graphic so readers can quickly draw conclusions. In the midst of a crowded field of people who may (or may not) be vying to be the Republican candidate for president in 2012, one chart attempts to do just that.

This chart has two axes: moderate to conservative and insider to outsider. While these may be fuzzy concepts, creator Nate Silver suggests these axes give us some important information:

With that said, it is exceptionally important to consider how the candidates are positioned relative to one another. Too often, I see analyses of candidates that operate through what I’d call a checkbox paradigm, tallying up individual candidates’ strengths and weaknesses but not thinking deeply about how they will compete with one another for votes.

Silver then goes on to explain two other pieces of information for each candidate that is part of the circle used to place each candidate on the graph: the color indicates the region and the size of the circle represents their relative stock on Intrade.

Based on this chart, it looks like we have a diagonal running from top left to bottom right, from moderate insider (Mitt Romney) to conservative outsider (Sarah Palin) with Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee trying to straddle the middle. We will have to see how this plays out.

But as a statistics professor who is always on the lookout for cool ways of presenting information, this is an interesting graphic.