Just like bridges and other notable structures, the skyscrapers define a skyline that comprises one of the city's iconic trademarks. Although the list will likely look different in the near future, these are currently the tallest buildings globally.
- Burj Khalifa - 828 m
- Shanghai Tower - 632 m
- Makkah Royal Clock Tower - 601 m
- Ping An Finance Center - 599 m
- Lotte World Tower - 555.7 m
- One World Trade Center - 541.3 m
- Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre - 530 m
- Tianjin CTF Finance Centre - 530 m
- CITIC Tower - 528 m
- Taipei 101 - 508 m
1. Burj Khalifa - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The mixed-use skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is the world's tallest building, meeting the official three criteria required to earn the title. Called Burj Dubai during its construction, it was renamed after the leader of the neighboring emirate, Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa ibn Zayed Al Nahyan. It was designed by the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, a Chicago-based architectural firm, with the construction commencing in 2004, led by architect Adrian Smith, with William F. Baker as the structural engineer. The tower's aimed height was a closely guarded secret until it topped off at 2,717 feet (828 meters) with 162 floors. Built to house a variety of commercial, residential, and hospitality venues, the tower was formally opened on January 4, 2010, although its interior was still incomplete. The building's modular design comprises a three-lobed footprint as an abstract rendering of the local Hymenocallis flower, with the Y-shaped plan serving to increase the tower's wind resistance. Its central core emerges as the tower's spired-top of over 700 feet (200 meters) long. There's also a public observation deck on the 124th floor, known as "At the Top."
2. Shanghai Tower - Shanghai, China
Set in Lujiazui, Pudong, Shanghai, China, the Shanghai Tower is a 2,073-foot (632-meter) tall 128-floor skyscraper that was built in 2013 as the second tallest building in the world and still holds that spot today. Uniquely designed as nine stacked cylindrical buildings topping each other, the tower was fully completed in September 2015. Its 128 floors are enclosed by the glass façade's inner layer, complete with elevators that run at 20.5 meters per second. Owned by the city's government, it comprises the tallest of the world's first triple-adjacent super-tall skyscrapers in Pudong, housing offices, a hotel, retail, and venues for leisure activities.
3. Makkah Royal Clock Tower - Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Located in Makkah Haram, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower reaches 1,972 feet (601 meters). The tower comes with 120 above-the-ground floors, featuring the signature giant clock faces mounted near the top. Built according to the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project galvanized to modernize Mecca and offer world-class accommodation to all, the tower cost nearly $15 billion to be completed by 2012, almost a decade after the construction began. Housing retail, a hotel, and residential units, it is part of the seven surrounding skyscraper hotels, the Abraj Al-Bait Towers mixed-use residential and hotel complex.
4. Ping An Finance Center - Shenzhen, China
The 116-floor high Ping An Finance Center is set in Futian District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, as a 1,965-feet (599-meter) tall tower-skyscraper housing offices, a hotel, a conference center, a high-end shopping mall, and other retailers. Designed by U.S. firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, the tower also serves as the headquarters of its commissioner, Ping An Insurance. Completed in 2017 as the tallest building in the city and the second tallest in the nation, it holds the record spot for the highest observation deck in a building, at 562.2 meters.
5. Lotte World Tower - Seoul, South Korea
The nation's tallest building standing at 1,823 ft. (555.7 meter) with 123 stories in Seoul, South Korea, Lotte World Tower, opened on April 3, 2017. The skyscraper, taking 13 years just to plan and prepare the site for construction, was topped-off on March 17, 2016. Its uniquely designed, Diagrid Lantern-shaped steel roof structure is made of 12 meters long and 20 tons each bent metal panels. With six underground floors and 123 stories scaling new heights for the nation, it was the first over 100-story building in Korea to attain a "Seoul-ful" view of the city. Occupied by offices, retail, hotel, and residential units, it is open 24 hours a day to the public. The building was featured in worldwide media in 2016, when the Russian-Ukrainian urban explorer Vitaliy Raskalov from Ontheroofs free-climbed to the top, with the escapade receiving nearly 5 million video views.
6. One World Trade Center - New York City, United States
Set in the Big Apple, at the south-western tip of Manhattan, World Trade Center comprises a complex of several buildings around a central plaza, located at the shore of the Hudson River, some blocks northwest of Wall Street. Built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as a central facility for businesses and government agencies involved in international trade, it fell victim to the site of 9/11, the deadliest terrorist attack in American history. The twin towers, designed by Minoru Yamasaki and opened in 1972, comprised the world's tallest buildings until surpassed in 1973 by the Sears (now Willis) Tower in Chicago. Standing at 110 stories each, they were a distinctive feature of the New York skyline that is no longer there. Rebuilt in 2014 at 1,776 feet (541.3 meters) tall, One World Trade Center is the main building of the World Trade Center complex today and the tallest structure in the United States. The 94 floors almost exclusively work offices, coming with a view over the Hudson River at Brooklyn and beyond for those who work at the top.
7. Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre - Guangzhou, China
Guangzhou Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre, also known as the East Tower, is the tallest building in the city and the third tallest in China; completed as a multi-use skyscraper in Guangzhou. The design of the building was conceived in March 2009, with the construction beginning in September. It was topped-off by July 2014 and cladded by December 2015. Completed in October 2016, it reaches 1,739 feet (530 meters) with 111 floors plus five below-ground floors. Housing a shopping mall, offices, apartments, and a hotel, 20-some percent of its 507,681.0 sq. meter (5,464,633 sq. ft.) total gross floor area comprises the attached podium.
8. Tianjin CTF Finance Centre - Tianjin, China
Taking six years to complete, the Tianjin CTF Finance Centre building was opened in 2019 as a 530-meter, tallest building in Tianjin, China. It would technically be the second tallest building in Tianjin, China, if the 597-meter tall skyscraper in the same city, Goldin Finance 117, was finished. Under construction since 2008, Goldin Finance 117 earned a nickname for resembling a walking stick and remains unfinished and unoccupied to this date. Comprising 97 floors, the Tianjin CTF Finance Centre still holds a world record as the tallest building with under 100 floors. The highly functional skyscraper includes office spaces, 300 luxury serviced apartments and a five-star 350-room hotel.
9. CITIC Tower - Beijing, China
With 119 floors reaching 1,731 feet (528 meters) into the sky, the CITIC Tower, also known as China Zun, is set in Beijing, China, as the nation's tallest building. Located in the city's Central Business District, the skyscraper was built for office space, with eight underground floors. Reaching its final height on August 18, 2017, the development continued well into 2018, opening at the end of the year. It is likely to stay dominating over China for the foreseeable future due to the strict rule in 2018 targeted to prevent congestion, that no new buildings in the city center shall exceed 180 meters in height. The building crosses over to China World Trade Center Tower III, 190 meters away, taking the latter's spot as the tallest upon getting topped off on July 9, 2017.
10. Taipei 101 - Taipei, Taiwan
The office building in Taipei, Taiwan, formerly known as Taipei Financial Center, was designed by a local architectural firm, C.Y. Lee & Partners, as a 101 stories skyscraper. Reaching 1,667 feet (508 meters) into the air, including the spire, it comprised the tallest building in the world at the time of its official opening in October 2004. Beating the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the spot, it was exceeded only in 2007 by Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The lowest floors comprise a luxury atrium shopping mall, with the rest developed for office space. There are also public observatories from 88th to 91st floors, with the latter setting record as the world's highest observatory at its completion.
Comprising a definitive bucket-list item when on locale, these tallest buildings in the world dominate the city's skyline while looking over the streets filled with citizens and tourists. Instead of feeling little next to these buildings, they emanate a vibe to connect with their meaningful existence and to those who helped erect the giants.