We all know that buildings don't always turn out like the renderings. Last-minute changes and real-life materials can all cause discrepancies between the vision and reality of a project. In our weekly Flash Forward Friday feature, we take a look at how different projects stack up.

As The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) certifies the completion of the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, we look back at how China's second tallest building stacks up against its initial batch of renderings. Though it was originally designed as a near-identical twin to the 439-metre-tall Guangzhou IFC, the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre has since taken shape under a distinct identity.

The CTF Finance Centre was originally designed as a twin to Guangzhou IFC, image via WilkinsonEyre

The pair of supertall skyscrapers form the gateway to Guangzhou's nascent central business district, Zhujiang New Town. The original plans for the CTF Finance Centre called for a rise of 475 metres. Once Kohn Pedersen Fox worked their magic, the project returned to public view with a fresh design and a more ambitious height of 530 metres. Today, the building stands as the fifth tallest in the world.

A rendering of the CTF Finance Centre, image by Kohn Pedersen Fox via CTBUH

Developed by New World Development Company, the project borders the city's premier urban park and central axis of the new neighbourhood, Huacheng Square. A massive underground retail concourse links the mixed-use project to the transport interchanges that serve the densely populated Pearl River Delta region. The development's programmatic shifts — from office at the bottom, residential in the middle, and hotel up top — are reflected in its architecture via four major setback transition points. Each setback references the height of nearby buildings and features landscaped outdoor terraces.

Night rendering of the CTF Finance Centre, image by Kohn Pedersen Fox via CTBUH

The skyscraper's verticality is accentuated by terra cotta mullions which evoke traditional Chinese architectural features and early skyscraper design. The tallest application of terra cotta in the world also offers environmental benefits by providing shade, resisting corrosion, and reducing embodied energy. Its enormous height was attained by employing a megacolumn outrigger core system. Primary support is provided by a square core and eight concrete megacolumns, with four levels of steel outriggers and six sets of double-layer belt trusses providing additional lateral stability.

The completed CTF Finance Centre, image by Flickr user Гок

The building closely matched the renderings that were crafted following KPF's revisions. As the tallest building to complete in 2016, the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre caps a year of unrelenting skyscraper construction in China, a country which accounts for 66 percent of all 200-metre-plus buildings delivered this year.

CTF Finance Centre, image by Flickr user Rob Faulkner via Creative Commons

We will return next Friday with another comparison!

Related Companies:  Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, Dennis Lau & Ng Chun Man Architects & Engineers, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, New World Development Company Limited