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What a Year. These Were The Top Construction Moments of 2023.

Fred Mills

20 December 2023

IT’S BEEN quite a 12-months for planet Earth. But alongside the twists, turns and shocks of the general news feed it’s been a fascinating year for the world’s greatest industry too.

We’ve seen everything from megatall skyscraper re-starts to huge infrastructure project cancellations, inspiring feats of engineering, farcical building auctions and of course that giant light-up ball in Vegas.

It was also a huge year for The B1M. More people watched our content than ever before, we hit 3M YouTube subscribers, grew our revenue, won awards, launched a global mental health initiative, visited more international construction projects than in any other year and hosted huge events in New York, London and Sydney.

Looking back – and in no particular order – these are some of our biggest construction moments from the past 12 months. This is the year that was 2023.

1. New York's 270 Park Tops Out

Everyone loves a skyscraper, and New York’s $3BN new supertall has been fascinating to watch this year. 270 Park Avenue topped out in November 2023 and is the tallest building currently under construction in the United States.

Above: New York's 270 Park Avenue construction site in October 2023. Image courtesy of Fred Mills.

The structure rises 423-metres above the city and is set to become the new global headquarters for banking giant JP Morgan Chase.

I took advantage of my jet lag and visited the awe-inspiring site early one morning in October!

2. Mental Health Moves Centre Stage

Construction sadly seems to struggle with mental health more than any other sector. At its most extreme, data shows that the issue is costing lives: the industry has one of the highest male suicide rates across the UK, US and Australia.

There’s a long road to travel, but 2023 was the year that the move to tackle construction’s mental health crisis moved up a gear.

The B1M teamed-up with Procore to launch Get Construction Talking – a global initiative that sees our two firms combine their strengths to amplify awareness of mental health and support the fantastic work of charities in this space.

We’re out to raise awareness, break the stigma and help people find support from some of the construction’s great mental health charities, including: the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP), Mates in Mind, The Lighthouse Club, MATES in Construction and Construction Sport.

Above: The B1M's founder Fred Mills [left] and Procore's founding CEO Tooey Courtemanche [right] at the launch of Get Construction Talking in London.

Following the campaign launch and publication of “Uncovering Construction’s Biggest Killer” – our two-part video series – in July 2023, we saw this initiative go on to build some incredible momentum around the world.

Above: Get Construction Talking's mental health awareness campaign came to Times Square (above) and the New York subway.

I had a powerful chat about mental health with Olympic legend Micheal Phelps live on stage at Procore’s Groundbreak event in Chicago, we helped raise awareness across the London Underground and New York’s Times Square, launched a toolkit, dove deeper into the topic through our podcast, brought the construction community together in London, held a high impact launch event in Sydney and raised over $80,000 for construction’s mental health charities around the world.

You can learn more, find support or make a donation over at

3. Rishi Sunak Cuts HS2

With the UK’s high speed 2 (HS2) rail project beset by controversy, delays and budget overruns, this was a moment that many people kind of saw coming. 

But it was no less shocking when it arrived.

In October UK prime minister Rishi Sunak announced his government’s plans to cut the remainder of the HS2 megaproject, cancelling all of phase 2 running north of Birmingham and redirecting funds into other projects across the north of the UK. It was also announced that the connection of the line from Old Oak Common on the outskirts of London into Euston Station would happen, but with private development funding the long argued over new station design.

Our 35-minute deep dive into the project now has over 5M views on YouTube and is a great way to get your head around one of the world’s biggest and most controversial infrastructure projects.

4. Switzerland Goes Dam Big

Jeopardy, scenery, snow, acres of concrete and a lot of pressure. August 2023 saw The B1M team journey up into the Swiss Alps to reveal one of the world’s most challenging and epic construction projects

Engineers in the mountains are racing to replace the ageing Spitallamm Dam by building an entirely new dam directly in front of it before it fails.

It sounds simple enough on paper – but this site sits 2,000 metres above sea level, it’s hours away from any major city, and you can only reach it for a few months each year because in the winter it’s virtually cut off due to snow.

Add-in the fact that this dam is critical to hydroelectric power supply in Switzerland and you have the makings of an incredible story. Check it out below.

5. Jeddah Tower Restarts

September saw social media go into meltdown when it was announced that construction works would resume on Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower – although it should be noted that no one ever officially confirmed on-record they had halted.

If completed, the skyscraper will stand at least 1-kilometre tall and overtake Dubai's 828-metre Burj Khalifa to become the world's tallest building.

It's understood that the project's developer Jeddah Economic Company (JEC) has invited bids from contractors to finish the megatall desert skyscraper.

Construction originally began back in 2013 but was paused twice for extended periods: once following Saudi Arabia's anti-corruption purge of 2017 and again at the start of the pandemic. The project had sat largely dormant since early 2020 with only a circa 300-metre tall stump constructed (which in itself would classify as a "supertall" skyscraper).

Our epic video exploring the story behind the troubled-project racked up over 2M views on YouTube this year. Watch it above!

6. Saudi Arabia Breaks the Internet (Again)

Congratulations must go to the NEOM PR team over in Saudi Arabia for winning the internet again in 2023 after bringing our feeds to a standstill in 2022 with those crazy renders for The Line.

February saw the announcement of The Mukaab and things kind of went from there. The mammoth cube was followed by a crystal-inspired skyscraper, a hotel inside a dam wall and numerous mountain retreats. 

Above: Saudi Arabia's Mukaab. Image courtesy of NEOM.

We had great fun on April Fools Day this year sharing our own AI-generated mock Saudi Arabian megaproject. Some media outlets actually covered it thinking it was legitimate!

7. Real Madrid Unveils Its Retractable Pitch

What’s cooler than a $1BN remodelling of one of the world’s most iconic stadiums? The movable pitch engineering beneath it of course.

2023 saw Real Madrid release footage of its redmodelled Santiago Bernabeu stadium nearing completion and testing out some of its features.

Chief among them was a system that most people won’t ever see: a pitch that can be broken up and stored in segments in a vertical cavern underground, carefully nestled against a metro line running under the site and complete with an optimised lighting and irrigation system. Truly impressive stuff.

8. New York’s Flatiron Farce

Few stories are more 2023 than this one.

March saw the auction of New York’s iconic 121-year-old Flatiron Building descend into farce when a random bidder named Jacob Garlick (yes, really) rocked up to the low-key outdoor auction (think trestle tables – yes, really) and drop a bid for $190M, only to completely disappear off the face of the Earth immediately afterward (yes, really).

The building was eventually re-auctioned and is now set to be turned into luxury apartments (because apparently there’s a shortage of those in Manhattan).

Our YouTube video into the story (above) notched-up an incredible 5M views.

9. The Sphere Lights Up Las Vegas (but not London)

If you opened a social media app in July 2023, the chances are you would have seen the Las Vegas Sphere being illuminated for the first time.

The eye-popping footage mesmerised millions of people and marked the birth of a whole new form of entertainment venue. Home to the world’s largest screen, the wrap around theatre creates an experience few people will have encountered before.

Above: The eye-catching new venue was illuminated for the first time in July 2023. Image courtesy of MSG / Las Vegas Sphere. Below: The Sphere became a feature of the F1 track in November. Image courtesy of Michael Bittle.

Later we saw U2 perform the inaugural gig in the space in a scene remarkably similar to the end of the movie Sing 2: where ageing rock star Clay Calloway (voiced by Bono) performs in a wraparound immersive venue in Las Vegas. We kid you not.

The new venue went on to become a key feature on the city’s incredible F1 circuit which transformed Las Vegas in November, but London wasn’t so keen on getting its own version of the orb. Mayor Sadiq Kahn blocked proposals for a sister venue in Stratford, but that move could still be overruled by the UK’s central government.

Meanwhile back in Vegas it’s understood that U2 now want to find ways to top their groundbreaking gig inside the Sphere – but they still haven’t found what they’re looking for.

10. The 57-Kilometre Mont Cenis Base Tunnel Wins Construction Story of the Year

It’s hard to imagine a construction project more epic than this.

Geographically, Lyon and Turin aren’t that far apart, but try and plot the most direct route between them on a map and you’ll spot a mountain range called the Alps blocking your path.

Such monumental obstacles weren’t an issue for the teams at Tunnel Eurapin Lyon Turin (TELT) – the public binational promoter responsible for the cross-border section of a new 270-kilometre rail line running between the two cities.

Above: Teams working to dig the Mont Cenis Base Tunnel, deep under the Alps. Image courtesy of TELT.

Collaborating across two different nations and multiple industries, they’ve picked-up their shovels (or tunnel boring machines) and are now in the process of digging a direct rail route right through the very base of the mountains.

The remarkable 57.5-kilometre new Mont Cenis Base Tunnel will run in a near flat, straight line beneath the Alps on the French-Italian border.

Above: The TELT team is digging the world's longest single rail tunnel. Image courtesy of TELT.

The adoption of a “base tunnel” enables trains to run at higher speeds and travel more directly than they do now: the current route involves a slow and winding four-hour train climb up and over the mountain peaks.

The project was announced as the well-deserved winner of The B1M and Nemetschek’s Construction Story of the Year Award in November 2023.

11. KONE Reveals its Underground Skyscraper Laboratory

Few places are colder than Finland in January, but that’s where I found myself at the start of 2023, surrounded by snow and heading into a 362-metre deep hole in the rock that’s used to test skyscraper elevator systems!

That hole was in fact KONE’s High Rise Laboratory. It might not look like much from the outside, but what happens in this little underground facility is kind of critical to how our world functions.

From here, KONE can do something that no other company can — carry out free-fall tests on skyscraper elevators where the car falls at speeds of up to 26 metres per second, checking that the brakes kick-in long before the worst happens.

12. LEGO Inspires Young Builders

We’re guessing that almost everyone in our audience is a LEGO fan.

Those little bricks were incredibly formative for me growing up, and I see my own kids having that same experience now: letting their imaginations run wild, role playing and exploring what’s possible.

LEGO is the perfect introduction to how building truly shapes our world, and in May 2023 The B1M proudly announced its investment into Brick Borrow, a fantastic LEGO subscription service.

The move closely aligns with The B1M’s goal of inspiring the next generation of builders, and attracting more talent into the construction sector.

Brick Borrow enables anyone to rent LEGO sets from its huge library, build them and then return them again all for a simple monthly subscription fee.

Brick Borrow makes it possible to enjoy an extensive range of LEGO sets without cluttering your home. The toy bricks can be prohibitively expensive for many families, but Brick Borrow’s service significantly reduces the entry cost and helps to make this fantastic toy accessible to more children.

The reuse and sharing of sets can also help reduce the overall environmental impact of LEGO. Though it now has ambitious sustainability targets in place, the company remains one of the world’s single largest producers of plastic.

You can subscribe to Brick Borrow or gift a subscription from just £9.99 a month here.

13. Sydney Opera House Turns 50

It’s been a big year for Australia’s most famous city. 

20 October marked 50 years since the opening of the iconic Opera House and in November the city’s Quay Quarter Tower was named the best skyscraper of 2023 by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).

Above: Sydney's iconic Opera House under construction. Image used under licence to The B1M.

Naturally we marked both of these occasions with content – an awesome image of Sydney Opera House under construction (above) and Fred’s visit to Quay Quarter Tower in the city’s CBD.

14. AI Architecture Explodes

2023 was the year that AI really began to make its way into architectural design.

In a development that’s seemingly loved and loathed in equal measure, we saw all kinds of crazy AI-generated designs begin to appear, produced by qualified architects, digital artists and amateurs alike.

There was even an admission from Zaha Hadid Architects that the practice uses the technology in the early design and brainstorming stages for some of its projects.

Above: Digital artist and RIBA Part 1 architect Sarah Asif used AI to imagine buildings dramatically integrated into Irish cliff faces. Image courtesy of Sarah Asif.

2023 saw this fast moving area stir up considerable debate and governments around the world grapple to put regulations in place.

Take a look at the #aiarchitecture hashtag over on Instagram. It’s quite an experience! And yes, like the rest of the world I tried out AI on my own headshots too.

15. Construction Robots Get Real

Cast your mind back to January 2023 and you might remember the jaw-dropping footage that Boston Dynamics released of its new Atlas robot helping out construction workers on an indoor test site.

Above: Boston Dynamics' Atlas helping out on a mock construction site. Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics.

Though still at prototype stage, the robot shows where innovator’s minds are heading as the construction sector continues to grapple with a skilled labour shortage and comes under renewed pressure to improve productivity.

My feedback? Atlas definitely needs to go on a health and safety course.

16. Conspiracy Theorists Target 15-Minute Cities

What could better epitomise the times we’re living through than a sensible urban planning concept being hijacked by conspiracy theorists?

The “15-minute city” idea strives to place all the key things you need – such as your grocery store, doctor, school or job – within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from your front door. The idea is that this reduces car dependency, in turn helping to lower pollution, improve air quality, further cohesion between communities and enhance people’s overall quality of life. The concept was introduced and first given the “15-minute” label by Professor Carlos Moreno in 2016.

Above: The 15-minute city concept tries to place the essential things you need within a 15-minute walk or bike ride of your home.

It’s an idea that reaches back to principles that have in fact underpinned human settlements – our villages, towns and traditional cities – for centuries, and sees planners attempt to tackle pollution and sustainable development in vast urban areas by approaching them as a series of smaller communities or villages, making up the overall whole.

By ensuring people have access to the main services and amenities they need nearby, car usage can be reduced, air quality can be improved, and communities can be brought closer together improving cohesion and helping reduce division.

15-minute cities exist across our current built up areas and societies already, and they have done for hundreds of years, if not millennia.

The label is new, and it’s emerged as urban planners have begun to specifically highlight such strategies as a way to successfully shape major urban centres – areas that have today grown to a scale few ever thought possible.

Above: Plans in Paris include reducing the number of car lanes in and around the Champs-Élysées, but not banning cars entirely. Image courtesy of PCA Architecture.

In February 2023, a series of unfounded 15-minute city conspiracy theories began circulating. These triggered protests in some cities, including Oxford in the UK.

We saw the legitimate concerns of community groups wishing to quite-rightly engage in robust, reasoned and constructive dialogue around the development of 15-minute cities being hijacked by those seeking to make broader and more extreme political points.

Concurrently, short-tempered, pithy and/or dismissive statements from those defending the 15-minute city concept – particularly on social media – sowed further division and didn’t exactly help to bring about the constructive dialogue that was sorely needed. To inform people as far as we could, The B1M team attempted to correct, clarify and explain the nuance behind some of the claims in a special guide.

17. Billionaire Battles Exposed

Want yet another story that epitomises our times? How about some Billionaires battling it out over Central Park views in New York, snapping up air rights, creating country clubs in the sky, planting Trojan horses and charging $238M for an apartment?

We uncovered all of that and more in our special 33-minute documentary, produced by The B1M in partnership with The Real Deal and released in December 2023. It’s a fascinating bit of Christmas viewing!

Will 2024 be even crazier?

Let us know your predictions in the comments!

You can learn more about these moments and all the regular goings-on from across the world of construction and architecture in our chart-topping podcast:


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