After an unprecedented growth spurt, Panama City is undeniably the skyscraper capital of Latin America. Even the giant cities of South America, such as São Paulo, Santiago and Buenos Aires, can’t compare to the skyline of the Panama capital.
There are 59 buildings taller than 150 meters in Panama City, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the non-profit group that tracks tall buildings. Panama City ranks 16th in the world for number of skyscrapers, trailing only New York and Chicago in the Americas, and ahead of Miami, Moscow and Kuala Lumpur, according to the CTBUH. (You can see the CTBUH city list here.)
The CTBUH doesn’t capture data on every building, but it is regarded as the primary source for data on tall buildings around the world. If nothing else, the group’s numbers provide a vivid perspective on the extraordinary level of skyscraper construction in Panama City. While the city’s skyline has long been compared to Dubai and Miami, the data places Panama City among the great skyscraper cities of the world.
In the more rarified air of buildings taller than 200 meters, Panama City is 12th in the world, tied with Abu Dhabi. That’s ahead of cities like Moscow, Los Angeles and Beijing. Sixteen of the 25 tallest buildings in Latin America are in Panama City.
The tallest building in Panama City is the iconic Trump Ocean Club, the tallest building in the region, at 284 meters (932 feet). The only comparable building in South America is the Torre Costanera in Santiago, Chile, the tallest in South America, at 300 meters. The second tallest building in the Panama City skyline is the 281-meter Torre Vitri, in Costa del Este, followed by the 267-meter Bicsa Financial Center, completed in 2013, according to the CTBUH.
The city’s skyline is also marked by interesting and unusual designs, as architects were allowed to follow their passion. That includes a “twisted building” (the 233-meter F & F Tower) and, of course, the sail-like Trump Ocean Club, which reminds many of the Burj al Arab in Dubai.
The bulk of the Panama City skyscraper construction occurred in the historic growth period between 2008 and 2012. The biggest year for completions was 2009, when 11 towers taller than 100 meters were completed. Ten were completed in 2011, according to CTBUH data. And it’s worth noting that construction has returned in the last two years with three towers of more than 100 meters completed in each of 2015 and 2015, according to the CTBUH data.
Beyond the fast-growing economy, Panama City has many attributes that make it ideal location for tall building development. There are no hurricanes or earthquake zones, which can wreak havoc on the engineering and construction costs of skyscraper projects.