Rising high from the ground, skyscrapers are the most awe-inspiring structures of modern metropolises. They’ve been constructed around the world since the 1930s, and by extending life from the city streets to the sky, they brilliantly solve space problems that arise in crowded urban areas. Here are the current ten tallest skyscrapers in the world with record-breaking heights and award-winning designs.
The Burj Khalifa in Dubai has been the world’s tallest skyscraper since it was completed in 2010. With seven acres of parkland and 163 floors, the building holds 30,000 residences, nine hotels, 19 residential towers, a shopping mall, and a 30-acre man-made lake. The building is part of the long-standing initiative of the government of the United Arab Emirates to transform the economy from being solely oil-based to a more service-oriented and tourism centric economy. The designer of the Burj Khalifa, Adrian Smith, is currently working on the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia, which will open in 2017 and is set to be the first building in the world to reach a full kilometer (3,281 feet).
As the tallest of the megatall skyscrapers in the heart of Shanghai’s Luijiazui financial district, the Shanghai Tower took eight years to build and is the second tallest building in the world. It was completed in 2015, though it didn’t open to the public until 2016. American architectural firm Gensler designed the building, with Chinese architect Jue Xia leading the design team. Made up of nine cylindrical buildings stacked on top of each other, the tower has a total of 320 hotel rooms as well as retail spaces, restaurants, cafés and gardens. The building twists as it rises and has public spaces holding 360-degree views of the city for visitors.
Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, also known as the Abraj Al-Bait Towers, is a government-owned building with great value to the culture and society of Saudi Arabia. Located just a stones throw away from Islam’s most sacred place, the world’s largest mosque Masjid al-Haram, the building complex was built as part of an initiative to modernize the city and cater to pilgrims. The large complex consists of residential apartments, hotel rooms, a conference center, a large prayer room, a five-story shopping mall, a museum, and a Lunar Observation Center to see the moon during the Holy Months. While the complex holds the place of third tallest building in the world, the tower’s clock face, designed by German architect Mahmoud Bodo Rasch, is the largest in the world.
Though not entirely finished yet, the Ping An International Finance Centre was topped out in April 2015, making it the second largest tower in China and the fourth largest building in the entire world. Initially, the finance center was planned to surpass the Shanghai Tower and become the tallest building in China, however the 60-meter antenna designed to be at the top was dropped in the beginning of 2015, because of the possibility of it obstructing flight paths. The building is located within the Central Business District of Shenzhen, China and its 115 stories will contain the headquarters of Ping An Insurance, hotels rooms, offices, retail spaces, a high-end shopping mall, and an observation deck at the top.
Lotte World Tower is a 123-floor skyscraper located near Seoul’s Han River in the Sincheon-dong neighborhood. It’s next to the first-generation Lotte World complex, which opened in 1989 and contains a theme park, movie theaters and a shopping mall. After 13 years of planning and preparations, the tower was topped off in the end of 2015 and all external construction of the building finished in March 2016. However, the building is not open to the public yet. With a total of 123 floors, the interior will contain retail outlets, residences, a luxury hotel, private office spaces, and public access floors at the top along with an observation deck.
The One World Trade Center, located in Lower Manhattan, NYC, is the tallest and one of the most significant buildings in the United States. In the aftermath of 9/11, it was was designed by David M. Childs to become a statement and the centerpiece of the New York skyline. The 104-story building includes offices, restaurants, broadcast and antennae facilities, and an observation deck with breathtaking views of Manhattan. Life-safety systems and sustainability have been incorporated into the building’s design with renewable energy, dense fireproofing, and the reuse of rainwater. The One World Trade Center also includes the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and the redesigned World Trade Center Transportation Hub.
Another Chinese megatall skyscraper, The CTF Finance Centre is the second of two Guangzhou Twin Towers, which are located in the city’s Tianhe District and overlook the Pearl River. The first was completed in 2010 and the CTF Finance Centre, also known as the Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre or Guangzhou East Tower, was opened in 2016. The building is a mixed-use urban complex with 111 floors, including a conference center, offices, a shopping mall, residential suites, an observatory, and a Rosewood Hotels & Resorts hotel spanning the 16 top floors. The tower has underground connections to public transportation, as well as second-level bridges to connect to adjacent buildings.
Taipei 101 is a modern icon in Taiwan, which mixes today’s technology with Asian traditions. Designed to withstand typhoons and earthquakes, the tower has distinctive blue-green glass curtain walls and many of the design elements incorporate traditional Asian symbolism and feng shui philosophy. For example, its 101 floors symbolize the renewal of time and the bright yellow gleam at its top is seen as a welcoming torch that also symbolizes liberty. Taipei 101 held the title of the largest building in the world from its completion in 2004 to the completion of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in 2010. Today, it has been awarded by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design as the tallest and largest green building in the world.
Located in the Pudong district of Shanghai, the 101-floor Shanghai World Financial Center serves as a major center of international finance and trade and consists of offices, hotels, conference rooms, observation decks, and ground-floor shopping malls. Resembling a bottle opener, the skyscraper is known for its iconic hole at the top, and you can even buy functional bottle opener replicas of the tower in the observation’s gift shop. The Shanghai World Financial Center topped out in September 2007, and the next year it was named by architects as the year’s best completed skyscraper. The building was designed by American architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox.
Number ten on the list, the International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong is an 108-story skyscraper. It was intended to be tallest building in the world, but the height had to be scaled down due to local regulations that prohibit buildings from rising higher than the surrounding mountains. Completed in 2010, the skyscraper has a Ritz-Carlton hotel, commercial offices, a shopping mall, a five-star restaurant, and an observatory called Sky100. Despite not being able to complete its goal of being the highest building in the world, the International Commerce Centre does stands out for something else: it has a Guinness World Record for ‘the largest light and sound show on a single building.’ Their LED light and music shows use a total of 50,000 square meters and can be seen twice a night.