Few things say that a city or a country has arrived more than a gleaming, awe-inspiring skyscraper. And while the recent economic slump put a considerable dent in some skyscraping projects’ aspirations, rest assured that the urge to go big and bigger shows no signs of stopping. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), these are the top 10 skyscrapers in the world.
10. Willis Tower
Location: Chicago, United States
Height: 1,451 feet
Completion Date: 1974
Formerly and still better known as the Sears Tower, this hefty, blocky office building’s design is unusual, and it will probably stay that way.
9. Zifeng Tower
Location: Nanjing, China
Height: 1,476 feet
Completion Date: 2010
Zifeng was designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the firm behind the Burj Khalifa, and the resemblances are easy to spot. Here, the cutaway look is meant to mimic a dragon wrapping around the structure.
8. Petronas Twin Towers 1 and 2
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Height: 1,483 feet, each
Completion Date: 1998
A two-story sky bridge connects these twin towers at the 41st and 42nd floors. It not only gives the structure its iconic look but it also “speaks to the future of tall buildings” and urban development.
6. International Commerce Centre
5. Shanghai World Financial Center
Location: Shanghai, China
Height: 1,614 feet
Completion Date: 2008
The Shanghai World Financial Center has a big hole in the top. The Shanghai World Financial Center’s passing resemblance to a bottle opener is not lost on its operators, who sell miniature, functional bottle opener replicas of the tower in the observation deck gift shop.
4. Taipei 101
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Height: 1,667 feet
Completion Date: 2004
Taipei 101 adopts some of the vernacular architecture of the region where it’s built. It has a classic, stacked pagoda look, which is a common thing throughout Asia. Furthermore, the building has eight segments of eight floors each, a nod to the auspicious nature of the numeral 8 in the Chinese-speaking world.
3. One World Trade Center
Location: New York City, United States
Height: 1,776 feet
Completion Date: 2014
The spire of One WTC attains a height of exactly 1,776 feet—a shout-out to the birth year of the United States. The building proper is only around 1,300 feet tall, but the CTBUH chose to count spire toward the building’s official height. That decision saw the new building controversially eclipse the Willis Tower in Chicago as the tallest building in North America.
2. Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel
Location: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Height: 1,972 feet
Completion Date: 2012
Big Ben done bigger, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel was built to afford comfortable accommodations to wealthy Muslim pilgrims making the Hajj. A factor that contributes to the building reaching so high: its gigantic footprint—a broader base supports greater height.
1. Burj Khalifa
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Height: 2,717 feet
Completion Date: 2010
An innovative tripedal design, along with the projecting shapes of its edges to cut through the wind like the front of a boat to reduce turbulence, both affording greater stability, are but a few of the smart ways the Burj Khalifa succeeded in rising to its record-setting height. The building soars more than 700 feet over its nearest competitor.