Skyscrapers are almost aspirational. Humanity has accomplished some impressive engineering feats throughout the centuries, building massive towers of achievement. Always obsessed with breaking the limits, you have to commend our species for its dedication to finding new ways to create.
As you probably guessed, today we are going to focus on some of the tallest buildings in the world, places that you can perhaps visit when everything around the world settles down. So, how much do you know about skyscrapers?
It all began in the 1880s
Skyscrapers themselves have had a special place in our history, in engineering, and pop culture. A skyscraper tends to be defined as a continuously habitable high-rise building that has over 40 floors and is taller than approximately 150 meters or about 492 ft. The term skyscrapers first appeared in the 1880s amid the rise of the evolving "Chicago style" architecture. Why? Not only were developers trying to fill that need of pushing the envelope of height, but they were also looking to gain more rentable space, making these massive sky-scraping buildings economically viable.
Since then, massive buildings have popped up around the world. Perhaps you are already familiar with buildings like the Burj Khalifa, or Lotte World Tower, but what about the structures currently in development? Buildings that could go on to potentially surpass the Burj Khalifa. In fact, Bloomberg reports that humans could create their first mile-high tower in 2025; however, a building of this magnitude will not be easy.
The overarching idea is that any building of that size will require two or three buildings at the base, with connections between or among them at higher elevations to provide stability and bracing. Even more so, if you want people to travel to the top floor of the building, you are going to need to develop a safe but sophisticated means of transportation and protect the building from earthquakes and other natural disasters. Even developing a system that properly flushes toilets hundreds of kilometers high can be a challenging task.
This is what makes the buildings on this list impressive. These tall structures are living monuments to what humanity can accomplish through collaborative engineering. Today we are going to take a look at some of the tallest buildings around the world and take a brief look at a few massive buildings in development, exploring the question of how high can humans build?
15. 432 Park Avenue
Location: New York City
Height: 425.5 meters
Skyscraper facts: This building is the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere.
Designed by Rafael Vinoly, this luxurious building is situated in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, one of New York's, if not the world's, most prestigious neighborhoods. If you are lucky enough to afford and get an apartment at 432 Park Avenue, expect to keep company with billionaires, politicians, and some of the most influential people around the world. The massive skyscraper is beautifully designed, promising its residents surrounding windows, luxuriously curated interiors, and million-dollar-views.
425.5 meters tall, this building is defined by 10-square-meter windows and its exposed concrete structural frame. The frame is bounded to a slim concrete core, allowing for something impressive in NYC, a column-free interior. The 104 luxury residences have yet to be filled to capacity. So, if you are looking for the ultimate home, now is your chance to pounce.
14. Wuhan Center Tower
Location: Wuhan, China
Height: 438 meters
Skyscraper Facts: The skyscraper was inspired by a sailing vessel.
The Wuhan Center tower is a gem in the Chinese city. Featuring a whopping 88 floors, the building was designed by the East China Architectural Design & Research Institute. Filled with residential spaces, offices, and a hotel, the building comfortably sits by Mengze Lake in Hubei province, along the Yangtze River. Some of the key features of the skyscraper include a host of energy-saving technologies and protection from the elements.
For example, a large folding glass wraps the Wuhan Center tower. These glass wraps reduce the wind pressure on the building. While the building also includes folding curtain wall units optimize shading performance. This helps minimize solar radiation and indoor heat gain by 50%. Currently, the building is the 24th tallest building in the world.
Location: Shenzhen, China
Height: 441.8 meters
Skyscraper Facts: The skyscraper is a sustainable symbol of wealth and prosperity for the residents of Shenzhen.
Another skyscraper situated in China, KK100, aims to be a sustainable symbol for the city Shenzhen, China. Proposed in 2004, the building was completed in 2011 and now sits as the 22nd tallest building in the world, and the 17th tallest building in Asia.
Comprising a reinforced concrete core, concrete encased steel column, and floor spanning made of steel, the building has a very unique design. Its curvaceous form takes cues from water, symbolizing both wealth and prosperity for the residents of Shenzhen. Comprising 100 floors, the first 72 levels of the building are dedicated to office spaces, while the remaining floors are used as hotel rooms and residential rooms.
12. Willis Tower
Height: 442.1 meters
Skyscraper Facts: The Willis Tower is the second tallest building in the United States.
Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower was first proposed in 1970 and was completed in 1974. Recently, the building was retrofitted in 2016, making its renovations just last year. Though the steel structure is the second tallest building in the United States, it is only the 21st tallest building in the world. Nevertheless, during the time of its completion, the skyscraper was considered to be one of the most innovative towers in the world. The unique step back structure has a massive 424,000 square meters of gross floor area. How big is that?
Just the first 50 floors of the building take up an entire block. The building has some other memorable sustainable features like low-flow fixtures that conserve an impressive 38 million liters of water annually, and high-efficiency lighting systems that help curb electrical loads. This skyscraper is considered to be one of the most important buildings in the world, with its design influencing many buildings on this list, including the Burj Khalifa.
11. Petronas Twin Towers
Location: Kuala Lumpur
Height: 451,9 m
Skyscraper Fact: The Petronas Towers design is based on Islamic Geometry.
Completed in 1998, the Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest building in Malaysia and the 16th tallest building in the world. The skyscraper holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Malaysian people. Many believe that the structure was designed to be an announcement to the world of the country's emergence into the global economy. The concrete and steel towers merge Malaysian traditions and ideals with their aspirations for the future. In fact, the building is based on Islamic Geometry, something that is a large part of the country's heritage.
One of the most prominent and recognizable features of the building has to be its sky bridge, which links the two towers together. Aside from its unique design, the bridge serves a specific purpose for the skyscrapers. It allows the facilities of each level to be shared, including areas like the conference room, prayer room, and executive dining room. Interestingly, this skyscraper project was expected to take eight years to complete but was completed two years ahead of scheduled time.
10. Lakhta Center
Location: St. Petersburg
Height: 462 m
Skyscraper Fact: Lakhta Center is the tallest building in Europe.
Standing an impressive 87 floors, this building is relatively new, being completed in 2019. The steel structure was originally proposed in 2019 and is currently the tallest building in Europe. However, it is still only the 13th tallest building in the world. The Russian skyscraper sits comfortably at the center of its home city's Primorsky District. Originally named the Okhta Tower, the design of the skyscraper is that of a lonely "spire" in a horizontal landscape, with a unique shape informed by concepts of extrusion, torsion, and tension" says the Skyscraper Center. The overarching goal of the building is to create a balance between the bustling office and public areas.
The skyscraper brings together the surrounding area, featuring green landscaped spaces, and even a 2,000 seat amphitheater. You will find a host of energy-saving technologies and technical equipment surrounding the building to protect the building from extreme weather.
9. Taipei 101
Height: 508 m
Skyscraper Fact: The skyscraper features a 728-ton tuned mass damper.
Taipei Tower is one of the most iconic buildings in the world. The structure includes a whopping 101 floors, making it the 10th tallest building in the world as a whole. The eye-catching skyscraper aims to set a worldwide precedent for sustainable skyscraper development. In fact, the Taiwanese tower achieved a LEED Platinum certification for Operations and Maintenance in 2011, something that is rare for a tower its size. Taking inspiration from a Chinese Pagoda, the eight-story modules flare outward, giving the building its iconic look.
Aside from the Smart Energy Management and Control System and stunning views, inside Taipei 101, you will find a 728-ton tuned mass damper. This massive feat of engineering is used to offset lateral movement caused by strong winds, something crucial in this typhoon proof area. Every New Year, the building becomes a stunning light show, producing a dazzling firework show usually follows that.
8. Tianjin CTF Finance Centre
Height: 530 m
Skyscraper Fact: It is the 4th tallest building in China.
Head back over to China to the city of Tianjin, and you will find the towering CTF Finance Centre. Serving as a hotel, serviced apartments, and office space, the building is the 8th tallest building in the world. The rocket-shaped building is situated in the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, a bustling area filled with life. The structure's unique stacking of reducing floor plates help reduce its exposure to wind, sun, and moisture. Residents of the building are treated to out of this world views of the surrounding area.
7. One World Trade Center
Location: New York
Height: 541 m
Skyscraper Fact: The One World Trade Center is the tallest building in North America.
Breaking ground in 2006, the One World Trade Center was eventually completed in 2014 with the impressive feat of being the tallest building in North America and the 6th tallest building in the world.
The skyscraper is one of the most symbolic buildings in the world, serving as a memorial of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. Pairing architecture, structure, urban design, safety, and sustainability, is an innovative accomplishment, and one of the most memorable buildings in the world. Its observatory offers guests the most stunning views of New York. One World Trade Center is truly historic.
6. Lotte World Tower
Height: 554.5 m
Skyscraper Fact: The Lotte World Tower takes old and new Korean values throughout its design.
Also known as the Lotte Jamsil Super Tower and the Lotte World Premium Tower, this skyscraper has one of the more unique designs on our list. Beginning construction in 2011 and finishing in 2017, the steel and concrete structure is currently the 3rd tallest building in Asia and is the 5th tallest building in the world.
The Lotte World Tower takes its inspiration from traditional Korean Art forms both on its exterior and interior. Inside the building, you will find stunning offices, a 7-star luxury hotel, and an officetel. This is one of the more elegant designs on our list, with developers attempting to accomplish just that. Throughout the tower, you can see a mix of old Korean traditions like ceramics, porcelain, and calligraphy paired with sustainable technologies.
5. Ping An Finance Center
Height: 601 m
Skyscraper Fact: Ping An Finance Center has a total of 495,520 square meters of floor space.
Another massive tower in Shenzhen, the tower, has 115 floors. Completed in 2010, the tower is only one meter shy from being defined as a mega tall structure. It is used as a hotel, office, and observation deck, with the observation deck being a favorite place for tourists. With a slender width to the height aspect ratio of 1:10, the building has a total of 495,520 square meters of floor space.
4. Makkah Royal Clock Tower
Location: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Height: 601 m
Skyscraper Fact: Makkah Royal Clock Tower opens its doors to the millions of Muslims traveling to Mecca each year.
The Makkah Royal Clock Tower began construction in 2002 and was completed in 2012. Yet the tower has a bit of old-world charm. Even more so, than the skyscraper is an impressive feat being the 3rd tallest building in the world, and the second tallest in the Middle East.
The large structure sat comfortably in the holy city of Mecca and was part of the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project. Makkah Royal Clock Tower provides more than comfortable accommodations for devout Muslims that make the journey to the city every year during the Hajj period, perfectly situated to the Grand Mosque. During the night time, the clock faces on the tower are illuminated by an impressive one million LED lights.
3. Shanghai Tower
Height: 632 m
Skyscraper Fact: The tower is one of the most sustainably advanced buildings in the world.
The Shanghai Tower is so massive that it is recognized as the second tallest building in the world at the moment and the tallest building in China. Spiraling to the sky, the tower was part of a trinity of skyscrapers in Shanghai's new Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone. One of the more futuristic buildings on the list, the twisting style of the building is not just for appearances. Its design offers a 24% savings in structural wind loading when compared to a rectangular building of the same height.
The building is used for hotel and office space featuring some waves of sustainable technologies, making it one of the most sustainably advanced tall buildings in the world. On the tower, you will find a tri-cogeneration system, a greywater/rainwater system, and several renewable energy sources.
2. Burj Khalifa
Height: 828 m
Skyscraper Fact: The Burj Khalifa has made appearances in many films, including Mission Impossible.
The Granddaddy of them all, the Burj Khalifa is currently the most impressive building in the world. It is the tallest building in the world, taking only about six years to complete. Building and design through many challenges, the Burj Khalifa is a shining example of the next generation of design and engineering of super skyscrapers.
The skyscraper effortlessly merges cutting-edge technologies and cultural influences, highlighting Dubai's tremendous ambition and wealth.
1.The Jeddah Tower
Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Height: 1000 m
Skyscraper Fact: Currently, the construction of the tower is on hold.
If it accomplishes what it has set out to do, The Jeddah Tower will be the first building in the history of humanity to break one kilometer, dwarfing the Burj Khalifa. The unique aerodynamic triangular shape and the sloping exterior of the Jeddah Kingdom Tower help the building tackle the wind load, while also paying homage to the leaves of desert plants. Expect to see the tower completed in the next few years (hopefully).
Do you have a favorite mega skyscraper?