We have all heard wild predictions over the past 18 months about the future of the office. The impact of the pandemic on the future of development and, in particular, tall buildings has been another area of debate. The author of the article below explains that the recent pandemic is not the first time we've heard predictions of the death of the skyscraper. The events in New York on 11 September 2001 being one of the most recent and stark examples. It might come as a surprise to hear that the twenty years since 9/11 have seen more skyscrapers built around the world than ever.

Our recent report supports the conclusion that the skyscraper is very much alive. The twenty-five industry experts we interviewed were in broad agreement that skyscrapers will have a significant part to play in the future of development in London. Whilst the impact of the pandemic is likely to lead to significant improvements in user experience both in terms of amenity and wellbeing, these changes were already underway and will simply be accelerated by recent events.

One of the most interesting themes that came out was the social impact of buildings and how they serve the communities in which they are built. Skyscrapers are already beginning to respond with developers seeking to create vertical villages including public spaces that serve their communities although it is fair to say that there is much work to be done to ensure they aren’t simply creating playgrounds for the wealthy.

In summary, it seems clear that rather than signalling the death of the skyscraper the pandemic is likely to give it new life. Assuming the development industry responds positively to the challenges it now faces, which initial indications suggest it will, skyscrapers of the future will be all the better for it.

Can you hear the death rattle of the skyscraper? It’s the sound of the free candyfloss cart being wheeled past the rows of empty desks, and the lonely drip of the beer-keg tap by the water cooler. In a desperate attempt to lure employees back to their offices, companies are laying on all manner of novelty treats, from monogrammed water bottles to personalised notebooks. It is hoped that these perks might convince people to leave the house, get on packed trains and jostle for the lifts, all in the name of teamwork and productivity. But will anyone ever want to work in a hermetically sealed high-rise building again, breathing the same air as thousands of potentially infectious other people?

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/oct/18/the-big-idea-is-the-era-of-the-skyscraper-over