The Economist: Look on my works, ye Mighty
AT 828 metres (2,717 feet), the Burj Khalifa, which opened on Monday January 4th, dwarfs Taipei 101, which was previously the tallest tower anywhere, by 320 metres. The tower has more than 160 floors and cost some $1.5 billion. It is in danger, however, of being seen as the height of folly. Construction began in 2004, when the economy of the United Arab Emirates was growing at 9.7%. It is forecast to grow by just 2.4% this year and probably shrank by 0.2% in 2009. This is not the first tower to be planned in the good times and then opened in a slump. Countries home to many of the world's highest buildings (when they opened) saw their economies slump in the years between the start of construction and the official opening. Our chart compares economic growth of the relevant country when a tower was opened, with the respective annual growth rate enjoyed half a decade earlier.
When I used to visit New York in the 1990s I made pilgrimages to the top to the World Trade Center. That was enough to creep me out. Ain't no way I'm going to the top of the Dubai building without a parachute.