Skyscrapers have been dubbed ‘vanity’ projects, questioned on their carbon footprint and called aesthetically unappealing. But that hasn’t deterred the architects, big corporations or governments from constructing mega tall buildings (above 600 metres) and also us from getting fascinated by these concrete behemoths. They are no longer limited to being good old office spaces. Today, the world’s tallest structures are mini-cities in themselves, housing a combination of office spaces, hotels, residential complexes and shopping malls. Essentially, they drive economic activity around them. That’s why in the last two decades, we have seen at least one supertall skyscraper (300-599 metres) getting completed around the world. Therefore, it should not surprise us if, in a few years, we see a completely new set of the tallest man-made structures. But, before that happens, we have curated a list for you of the 14 of the tallest completed buildings in the world that are also architectural marvels in their own right.
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These are the tallest buildings in the world
Burj Khalifa, UAE
Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and is named after the former president of the UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Located in Dubai, the skyscraper is 829.8 metres tall and has 163 floors. Its construction began in 2004 and took six years to complete. It was designed by architect Adrian Smith and his team in Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM). The design is said to have drawn inspiration from the Great Mosque of Samarra, Chicago’s The Illinois and Lake Point Tower. The building has the world’s fastest double-deck elevators, with a speed of 10 metres/second. It is also home to the world’s largest choreographed fountain, Dubai Fountain. Italian designer Giorgio Armani also opened his first-ever hotel (Armani Hotel) here in 2010. The 43rd and 76th floors house swimming pools.
Shanghai Tower, China
Shanghai Tower is a 128-storey building and 632 metres high. Located in Shanghai’s Pudong district, it is the second-tallest building in the world and the tallest in China. It is home to the world’s highest luxury hotel, J Hotel, located between the 84th and 110th floors and a restaurant on the 120th floor. The building opened to the public in 2016 after its construction began in 2008. It was designed by the firm Gensler, with architect Jun Xia leading the team. The tower has a unique structure with nine cylindrical buildings stacked one on top of the other and is enclosed by a double glass facade.
Abraj Al-Bait, Saudi Arabia
Abraj Al Bait, also known as the Makkah Royal Clock Towers, is a complex situated in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is 601 metres tall. It was built by the Saudi Binladin Group, after the demolition of the Ajyad Fortress, the 18th-century Ottoman citadel. The complex is a collection of seven skyscraper hotels owned by the government. It is the second most expensive building in the world. It is located 300 metres away from the Great Mosque of Mecca, and its four-faced clock (the largest clock in the world) at the top is visible from kilometres away.
Ping An Finance Centre, China
Ping An Finance Centre is a 118-storey building located in the Central Business District of Shenzhen in China’s Guangdong province. The fourth-tallest building, which is 599 metres tall, was designed by the American firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. After its completion in 2017, it broke the record of having the highest observation deck at the 116th floor. Standing as a stone and glass tower, its design is mildly inspired by Chinese mythology, by creating the outline of a dragon’s snake-like body.
Lotte World Tower, South Korea
The Lotte World Tower ranks fifth among the tallest buildings in the world and is located in South Korea’s capital Seoul. It stands tall at 555.7 metres with 123 storeys. It opened to the public in 2017 and has offices, hotels, and residential and retail spaces. The building also has an observation deck, which occupies the top 7 floors and has a glass skywalk, shops, restaurants and outdoor terraces. The tower was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. Its lantern-shaped roof structure is made of diagonally intersecting steel beams that can endure earthquakes up to 9 on the Richter scale.
One World Trade Center, USA
One World Trade Center, formerly known as Freedom Tower, is located on New York City’s Manhattan Island. It is the main building at the rebuilt Ground Zero, the site of the former World Trade Center. It has the same name as the North Tower of the original World Trade Center and was designed by architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Opened to the public in 2014, it has 94 stories and is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, with a height of 541 m.
Guangzhou Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre, China
Guangzhou Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre is the third-tallest building in China. Located in Guangzhou, Guangdong, it is owned by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and was opened to the public in October 2016. Its height is 530 metres, has 111 floors above ground level and five floors below ground level. It is a mixed-use building that houses a shopping mall, offices, apartments, a hotel and the world’s fastest elevators. The vertical mullions in the building are made out of white glazed terracotta.
Tianjin CTF Finance Centre, China
Located in Binhai, China, Tianjin CTF Finance Centre stands tall at 530 metres and is the tallest building in the world with less than 100 floors. It has 97 floors, and the building’s construction was completed in 2019. Eight undulating curves taper at the top of the building, and the façade, made up of thousands of glass panels, creates a unique fluid rise-and-fall imagery when light falls on it. The building has 81 elevators, a shopping mall, 300 luxury apartments and a 350-room five-star hotel.
CITIC Tower, China
CITIC Tower, also known as China Zun, is located in Beijing, China. It has a height of 528 metres and has 109 storeys. The building got its nickname from the Chinese wine vessel, which is the inspiration behind the building’s design. The building houses 60 floors of office space, 20 floors of luxury apartments and 20 floors of a hotel with 300 rooms. The construction was completed in September 2018.
Taipei 101, Taiwan
Earlier known as Taipei World Financial Center, Taipei 101 is located in Taiwan’s economic and cultural centre, Taipei. ‘101’, in the name, stands for the number of floors in the building and also was meant to honour the coming of the new century. This tower has many firsts to its name. It was the first building in the 21st century to go past Malaysia’s Petronas Towers (tallest building 1998-2003). In 2003, it also became the first skyscraper in the world to breach the 500-metre mark. Its postmodern sturdy building design allows it to withstand tropical storms and the region’s frequent earthquakes. It opened to the public on the eve of 2005.
Shanghai World Financial Center, China
Shanghai World Financial Center is located in the Pudong district of Shanghai. It is designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates and Mori Building and is 494.3 metres tall with 101 floors. The tower features three separate observation decks. It has 91 elevators and 33 escalators. There are event spaces, a media centre, a restaurant and shopping areas on the ground floors. One of the most unique features of the neo-futuristic design of the building is the trapezoid aperture at the peak, for which it has earned the nickname ‘the bottle opener’. It opened to the public in October 2008.
International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong
The International Commerce Centre (ICC), formerly known as the “Union Square Phase 7”, is a 108-storey building with a height of 484 metres. On the first five floors, it houses Elements Shopping mall and Ritz Carlton on its top sixteen floors. The supertall structure was designed by the firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Until 2018, the ICC building had the Guinness World Record for holding the “largest light and sound show on a single building.”
Central Park Tower, USA
Central Park Tower is a residential skyscraper located in Manhattan, New York City. It is currently the second-tallest building in the United States and the tallest primarily residential building in the world. The building contains 179 condominiums starting from the 32nd floor. The tower also has a three-floor private club named “The 100th Floor”, which has been branded as the highest private club in the world. The height of the all-concrete building is 472.4 metres with 98 floors above the ground and was designed by the firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. It opened to the public in 2020. The base tower is made of glass panels arranged in a serpentine pattern. The building has held the Guinness World Record for being the tallest cantilevered building.
Lakhta Center, Russia
The twisted building, Lakhta Center, is an 87-storey office skyscraper in Saint Petersburg, Russia. At 462 metres tall, it is the tallest tower in Russia. It is among the few skyscrapers that are eco-friendly. In 2018, it earned a LEED Platinum certificate for ecological efficiency.
Special mention: Merdeka 118
The Merdeka 118 tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will be the world’s second tallest building, after Burj Khalifa when it opens. It stands at a height of 678.9m and is expected to launch this year and has the highest observation deck in Southeast Asia. The building’s facade is multi-faceted diamond-shaped with a unique spire design. Its structure is inspired by the famous hand gesture made by Malaysia’s first Prime Minister in 1957 when he declared the nation’s independence in Stadium Merdeka, which is part of the Merdeka 118 precinct.
This story first appeared in Lifestyle Asia India