Tallest Buildings in the World

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Here we look at the top ten tallest buildings in the world and celebrate the monumental strides humans are currently making in the fields of construction and engineering. The barrier of a 2,000ft-tall building has already been broken and the first building set to go above 1,000 metres (3,280 feet), the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is already under construction and set to open in 2019. That will take buildings past another major milestone in height, but until then let’s look at the ten tallest buildings in the world today, counting down to number one…


Height: 1,451ft (442m)
Other names: Formerly known as Sears Tower
Country: USA
City: Chicago
Cost EST: $175million
Opened: 1973

Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower

Willis Tower. Pic credit: Alex Actipis CC BY 2.0

Chicago’s Willis Tower was the tallest building in the world for nearly 25 years. Finished in 1973 following a three-year construction period, it held the title until 1998 when the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur (see number 8 on this list) took the crown. It has 108 stories with an observation deck on the 103rd floor, which is visited by more than a million people every year. In May 1981 climber Dan Goodwin scaled the outside of the then Sears Tower while dressed as Spider-Man and using suction cups and safety gear. He was arrested at the top. Then in August 1999 French freeclimber Alain Robert scaled it again without any safety gear at all, and using just his bare hands and feet. It was renamed Willis Tower in 2009 after the Willis Group took out a lease in the building. It has also been the home to the headquarters of United Airlines since August 2012.


Height: 1,480ft (450m)
Other names: Greenland Center-Zifeng Tower, Greenland Square Zifeng Tower, Nanjing Greenland Financial Center
Country: China
City: Nanjing
Cost EST: $1billion
Opened: 2010

Zifeng Tower, one of tallest buildings in the world

Zifeng Tower. Pic credit: HanjoH CC BY 3.0

The Zifeng Tower has 89 stories and houses office space as well as several restaurants and a hotel. There is also a public observatory on the 72nd floor offering spectacular views of Nanjing on a clear day. It was designed by architect Adrian Smith from American firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. The geometry of the building follows the pattern of existing roads around the site. There are several sky gardens at various levels up the tower. The InterContinental hotel starts on the 49th floor and stretches up to the 71st. Special structural safetyguards were put in place when building the tower as Nanjing lies in a seismic zone, meaning it is at risk of earthquakes.


Height: 1,483ft (452m)
Other names: Petronas Twin Towers/Menara Petronas/Menara Berkembar Petronas
Country: Malaysia
City: Kuala Lumpur
Cost EST: $1.6billion
Opened: 1996

The Petronas Towers

The Petronas Towers. Pic credit: Gavin Firkser CC BY 2.0

The Petronas Towers could count as two separate buildings, but we have put them together on this list as they are connected on the 41st and 42nd floors by a skybridge. They were the tallest buildings in the world for six years, from 1998 to 2004 until the crown was taken by Taipei 101 (see number 5). Because the towers move in the wind and in different temperatures, the skybridge actually moves in and out of both the towers to stop it breaking. The final scene of 1999 film Entrapment, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, was filmed on the skybridge. The towers were designed by Argentine American architect Cesar Pelli. In September 2009, French free climber Alain Robert climbed the outside of the second tower without any ropes or safety gear. It took him just under two hours. He had previously tried the stunt in March 1997 and March 2007, but both times ended up getting arrested on the 60th floor.


Height: 1,588ft (484m)
Other names: 環球貿易廣場, ICC Tower
Country: China
City: Hong Kong
Cost EST: Not known
Opened: 2010

The International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong

The International Commerce Centre. Pic credit: Isaac Torrontera CC BY-SA 2.0

Hong Kong’s International Commerce Centre has 118 storeys, making it the third largest building by number of floors. It houses Hong Kong’s five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel on the top 16 floors, as well as a 360-degree observation deck on the 100th floor, at 1,289ft. The hotel has a bar and a pool on the top storey, which are the highest bar and pool in the world. It also features a 30,000sq ft Presidential suite on the 117th floor, which costs around $13,000US (100,000HKD) per night to stay in. The ground floor of the International Commerce Centre building is occupied by a shopping mall called Elements. The skyscraper was designed by Kohn Pederson Fox Associates. Six people died in an elevator shaft accident during the construction. The budget for the ICC Tower was shrouded in secrecy, and it wasn’t even revealed to the architects themselves.


Height: 1,614ft (492m)
Other names: SWFC, 上海环球金融中心
Country: China
City: Shanghai
Cost EST: $1.2billion
Opened: 2008

Shanghai World Financial Center

Shanghai World Financial Center. Pic credit: Harvey Barrison CC BY-SA 2.0

The Shanghai World Financial Center is the first of two buildings in Shanghai to make this list. It took 11 years to build, with construction starting on in August 1997 before it opened to the public in August 2008. This was mainly due to the project being put on hold for several years due to the Asian financial crisis. The Shanghai World Financial Center has 101 floors and 91 elevators. It was designed by US architects Kohn Pederson Fox, and features a distinctive trapezoid gap at the top. There are three separate observation decks with the highest situated oon the 100th floor, 1,555ft from the ground. It is home to several leading banks and financial trading firms as well as government agencies.

5 TAIPEI 101

Height: 1,669.9 ft (509 m)
Other names: 臺北101/台北101, Taipei World Financial Center
Country: Republic of China
City: Taipei City
Cost EST: $1.8 billion
Opened: 2004

Taipei 101, one of the world's tallest buildings

Taipei 101. Pic credit: My Day CC BY 2.0

The Taipei 101 building is in Taipei, the capital city of the Republic of China (Taiwan). It held the crown of world’s tallest building for six years between 2004, when it was completed, and 2010 when the Burj Khalifa opened in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The Taipei 101 building took five years to build at a cost of $1.8billion. It was designed by C.Y. Lee & Partners, a firm with Chinese architect C. Y. Lee at the forefront. The building often features in New Year’s Eve broadcasts across the world when fireworks are set off from its many floors. It has an indoor observation deck on the 89th floor and one outside on the 91st floor. The many firms with offices inside include Google, KPMG and L’Oreal.


Height: 1,792 ft (546.2 meters)
Other Names: 1 World Trade Center, 1 WTC, Freedom Tower
Country: United States of America
City: New York City
Cost EST: $3.9 billion
Opened: 2014

One World Trade Center, tallest building in USA

One World Trade Center. Pic credit: Joe Mabel CC BY-SA 2.0

One World Trade Center in New York City is the fourth tallest building in the world. The structure was built in the shadow of the September 11th World Trade Center terrorist attack and acts as a memorial to the lives that were lost. The One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and has 104 floors. American architect David Childs designed the building, with construction beginning on the $3.9billion project in 2006. It was completed in 2013. Tenants who have signed leases include Conde Nast Publications, whose magazines include Vogue and The New Yorker, the General Services Adminstration, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Customs and Border Protection.


Height: 1,972 feet (601 m)
Other Names: Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower
Country: Saudi Arabia
City: Mecca
Cost EST: $15billion (for entire complex)
Opened: 2012

Abraj Al Bait, one of the tallest buildings in the world

Abraj Al Bait. Pic credit: Al Jazeera English CC BY-SA 2.0

The Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower is the tallest part of a building complex that towers above one of Islam’s holiest sites, the Masjid al-Haram mosque, home to the sacred Kaaba. It was designed by Dar Al-Handasah Architects, and has 120 floors housing a 1,299-room five-star hotel with 56 elevators. The minaret at the top of the tower was fitted with huge speakers which can emit prayer calls more than four miles away, while 21,000 lamps were also added, which can be seen nearly 20 miles away. They are meant to provide a way for deaf people and those in far off areas to know when there is a call to prayer. Inside. Contruction on the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower is began in 2004 and was completed in 2012. It is part of the Fairmont group of hotels.


Other Names: 上海中心大厦, Shànghǎi Zhōngxīn Dàshà, Shanghai Central Tower
Height: 2,073 ft (632m)
Country: China
City: China
Cost EST: $2.2 billion
Opened: Anticipated in 2015

Shanghai Tower, tallest building in China

Shanghai Tower, on far right. Pic credit: Wilson Hui CC BY 2.0

The second tallest building in the world is Shanghai Tower. Work on the main structure of China’s tallest building began in 2008 and was set to be completed in 2014. However, the highest point, at 2,073 ft (632 metres), was put in place in August 2013. Designed by global architecture firm Gensler, the building was set to open to the public in 2015. It will have 121 stories, and is designed as nine different cylindrical buildings one on top of the other. Each one will have a separate atrium with gardens, cafes and shops with 360 degree views of the entire city of Shanghai.


Other Names: Burj Dubai, Khalifa tower, برج خليفة
Height: 2,722 ft (829.8 m)
Country: United Arab Emirates
City: Dubai
Cost EST: $1.5billion
Opened: 2010

Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world

The Burj Khalifa. Pic credit: Wilerson S Andrade CC BY-SA 2.0

The tallest building in the world is currently the mighty Burj Khaifa, which towers above the city of Dubai. As of 2014 it was the tallest building in the world by a staggering 643ft (196 meters). There are 163 floors in the building so if you visit, make sure you take the lift. The Burj Khaifa took just over five years to be completed, with construction beginning in September 2004 and completed in October 2009. It was designed by American architect Adrian Smith, who is also credited for being the architect behind the Jin Mao Tower in China and the Trump Tower in Chicago. It has an observation deck on the 124th floor, and is surrounded by a landscapd park. It features both apartments, stores and office space.

Have you been to see the tallest building in the world or any of the other skyscrapers on this list? Have you been on any of the observation platforms or stayed in any of the hotels? Let us know in the comment section below.