15 Tallest Buildings In The World | In 2019

What is the tallest structure humans could ever build? Considering the shape of Earth and existing technology, we could possibly build a 4-kilometer-tall and 6-kilometer-wide building. It would have 800 floors that could accommodate up to one million people. But we haven’t gone so far yet.

Well, the current tallest building — Burj Khalifa — stands at remarkable 829.8 meters (height to pinnacle). It dwarfs every structure built before 2009.

Most modern skyscrapers feature steel frames that enable them to be built taller than traditional load-bearing concrete walls. Advanced construction techniques — such as gaps to allow air to pass through, and mass dampers to decrease swaying and vibrations —  have allowed skyscrapers to narrow in width.

How These Buildings Are Measured?

An international non-profit organization named Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat determines a set of standards to measure tall buildings. The organization analyzes and reports all aspects of planning, design, and construction of the building. It uses 3 methods to rank the height of buildings:

  1. Height to architectural top,
  2. Height to the highest occupied floor, and
  3. Height to tip (including flagpoles, antennae and technical equipment).

Currently, there are 64 buildings taller than 350 meters, out of which 32 are in China. We are listing the 15 tallest buildings (excluding telecom towers) in the world that are results of visionary ideas and solid science. The cost of construction is converted into US dollars. 

15. Changsha IFS Tower T1 | 452.1 meters | 88 Floors

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Location: Hunan, China
Completed in: 2017
Cost: Not Known

Located in the prime area of Furong District, the Changsha IFS Tower T1 is well-positioned to achieve its main objective of attracting plenty of financial institutions based in Hunan Province.

The Changsha complex development project includes two skyscrapers: Tower 1 and Tower 2. Tower 1 features 700 meters of retail street frontage that offers dining, lifestyle, and entertainment facilities. The reduced floor plates sizes at the top are mostly reserved for hotel uses, where guests usually pay a premium for accommodations at such heights.

14. Landmark 81 | 461.2 meters | 81 Floors

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Completed in: 2018
Cost: $123 million

Landmark 81 is built as the focal point of the $1.5 billion high-end urban complex known as Vinhomes Central Park. The development includes luxury apartments, retail spaces, several entertainment facilities, and a multi-story observation at the building’s crown.

The building’s design is inspired by the bundle of bamboo, symbolizing unity and strength in Vietnamese culture. The structure of the Landmark 81 is simply a bundled-tubes system, consisting of 36 squares tubes (clustered in a 6*6 matrix) of different heights.

The thinnest section is placed at the top of the building: it can be considered as spire as it doesn’t have any usable floors, but not as thin as an actual spire.

13. Lakhta Center | 462 meters | 86 Floors

Image credit: Ad Meskens / Wikimedia Commons

Location: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Completed in: 2019
Cost: $1.77 billion

Constructing Lakhta Center — the tallest building in Europe — required truly creative engineering minds to overcome environmental and architectural challenges of magnitude.

The tower is equipped with advanced heating, lighting, and waste management system, as well as an ‘intelligent facade’ that decreases energy consumption. Instead of traditional heaters, engineers used infrared radiators: excess heat produced by the tower’s electrical and mechanical devices is channeled into the heating system.

The foundation of the building includes 264 piles driven 279 meters into the ground, and 15 levels of grids redistribute the tower’s weight away from its core so that the skyscraper remain stable under extreme wind loads.

12. International Commerce Centre | 484 meters | 118 Floors

Image credit: Bohao Zhao / Wikimedia Commons 

Location: Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Completed In: 2010
Cost: $3.69 billion

The International Commerce Centre represents a new era of skyscraper’s model that not only considers achievements in design and engineering, but also includes the idea of connectivity, forward-thinking, and smart growth in highly dense regions.

It is placed among the top 10% of energy-efficient commercial buildings, which is an impressive feat for such a tall building. The air-conditioning system alone contributes to 8% reduction in energy consumption.

Other energy-efficient features include natural lighting of the atrium, double-decker elevators with power regeneration functions, and low-emission curtain wall. The waste-management program collects more than 100,000 kilograms of recyclable materials every year.

11. Shanghai World Financial Center | 492 meters | 101 Floors

Image credit: Alton Thompson / Wikimedia Commons 

Location: Shanghai, China
Completed In: 2008
Cost: $1.2 billion

The Shanghai World Financial Center is a symbol of culture and commerce, which speak to the city’s emergence as a world capital. The most distinctive architectural feature of this building is its huge trapeziform aperture on the top, which is designed to reduce the impact of wind pressure.

Although the type of design is not unique (it can be found in other countries, such as Kingdom Center in Saudi Arabia and Duke Energy Center in the United States), constructing it on such a large scale was really a challenging task.

The trapezoid aperture of the building is made of reinforced concrete and structural steel. The compressive and bending forces like wind loads are shifted down to the ground by its diagonal-braced frame.

The aim of the tower’s design is to effectively use the material: it significantly reduces the weight of the structural steel in the perimeter walls and the thickness of the outer core shear walls.

10. Taipei 101 | 508 meters | 101 Floors

Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Completed In: 2004
Cost: $1.9 billion

Taipei 101 held the title of world’s tallest building — from 2004 to 2010 — until the completion of Burj Khalifa. In 2011, the tower received a LEED Platinum certification for Operation and Maintenance, a spectacular feat for a building of its size and complexity.

Some of its less-known sustainable features include low-flow water fixtures, energy efficient luminaires, double-paned green glass curtain walls to block solar heat, and a Smart Energy Management and Control System.

It is equipped with a 728-ton tuned mass damper — a device (steel pendulum) mounted in tall buildings to decrease the amplitude of mechanical vibrations caused by strong winds — situated in a huge multi-story cavity close to the top of the tower. The building can withstand winds of up to 215 kilometers per hours and an earthquake of 9 on the Richter scale.

Taipei 101 has a series of observation decks on its upper floors, and it is the only skyscraper in the work that has concert organized on the rooftop: numerous bands have held small-scale concerts on the 91st-floor observatory.

9. China Zun | 528 meters | 108 Floors

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Location: Beijing, China
Completion: 2019
Cost: $3.78 billion

The name ‘Zun’ comes from an ancient Chinese wine vessel which inspired the tower’s design. The building rises from its 78-meter-wide base, gently decreases to a 54-meter-wide midsection, and then gradually increases to its 69-meter-wide crown at the top.

Compared to other tapering or straight supertall towers, the concave design offers larger prime-floor spaces and ample space for window washing. Although the large top section poses several structural challenges, the massive base favors structural balance and preferred core-to-perimeter distances.

Since the authorities restricted new projects in the central business district to a height of at most 180 meters to drop congestion, China Zun is likely to remain the tallest building in Beijing for a long time.

8. Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre | 530 meters | 111 Floors

Image credit: Brian Sterling / Flickr

Location: Guangdong, China
Completed In: 2016
Cost: $1.5 billion

Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre is known for its multiple uses: its form is sculpted at 4 critical transition points – residential to hotel, hotel to office, office to crown, and crown to sky.

There are 95 elevators in the building, two of them are among the world’s fastest. They can go as fast as 21 meters per second. To achieve such high speeds, they use permanent magnet synchronous motors and rollers to smoothen the ride.

To minimize its environmental footprint, the tower is equipped with a variety of energy efficient tools. The utilization of high-efficiency chillers, heat recovery from the water-cooled chiller condensers, and the multi-level connections to public transportation, all contribute to the tower’s sustainability. 

Read: The Great Pyramid of Giza | 15 Facts And Fascinating History

7. Tianjin CTF Finance Centre | 530 meters | 98 Floors

Credit: New World China via CTBUH

Location: Tianjin, China
Completion: 2019
Cost: Not known

The tower utilizes undulating curves to subtly express 3 programmatic components while adding a bold monolithic expression on the skyline. It serves as an anchor for the wider area development, while housing luxury serviced apartments, office space, and a hotel.

The gently curved glasses conceal 8 sloping columns, which enhance the stiffness of the structure in response to seismic concerns. The multistory wind vents are cleverly merged with the building’s aerodynamic shape to decrease vortex shedding and minimize wind forces.

6. One World Trade Center | 541.3 meters | 104 Floors

Location: New York City, United States
Completed In: 2014
Cost: $3.9 billion

The skyscraper has the same name as the North Tower of the original WTC that was destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attack. The memorial is built of 40,000 metric tons of structural steel and 49,000 cubic yards of concrete, which is enough to pave more than 320 kilometers of New York City sidewalks.

The structure has a cubic base and its edges form 8 isosceles triangles. At its mid part, the building forms an octagon. Also, it’s one of the safest office buildings in the world.

The high-strength concrete used in the building can resist 7 times more pressure than conventional concrete, and the reinforcement steel bars are substantially longer than previous WTC’s rebars. There are a total of 71 elevators that can take you from the ground to 102nd floor within a minute.

Most people don’t know that one of the trees planted around the memorial was actually recovered from the WTC debris. Since it lived through the terrorist attack, it is named ‘Survivor Tree‘.

5. Lotte World Tower | 554.5 meters | 123 Floors

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Location: Seoul, South Korea
Completed In: 2016
Cost: $3.3 billion

Lotte World Tower is programmed with more wider functions than what is usually found in tall buildings. The top 10 floors are earmarked for extensive public use: it includes a rooftop cafe, observation deck, and other entertainment facilities.

The design of the building is inspired by Korean porcelain, ceramics, and calligraphy. The seam goes from top to bottom of the tower, exterior materials are light-toned silver glass, and the roof is designed to withstand its weight without reinforcing pillars.

Nearly 3,000 tons of steel parts, high-precision GPS alignment systems, a 64t tower crane, and highly skilled workers were used in the roof construction alone. The tower is strong enough to endure extreme winds up to 80 meters per second and earthquakes up to 9 magnitude.

4. Ping An Finance Centre | 599 meters | 115 Floors

Image Credit: Wishva de Silva / Wikimedia Commons

Location: Guangdong, China
Completed In: 2017
Cost: $1.5 billion

Ping An Finance Centre represents a new generation of the prototypical skyscrapers: very dense, very tall, and hyper-connected. It seamlessly connects to neighboring residential and commercial properties, as well as the high-speed rail corridor of the Pearl River Delta.

This is the second tallest building in Asia that shares the record of having the highest observation deck (with the Shanghai Tower) at 562 meters. There are 33 double-deck elevators in the tower, each can go up to 10 meters per second.

The streamlined shape of the building enhances both wind (reduces the baseline wind loads by 35 percent) and structural performance. The overall structure is built with 1,700 tons of corrosion-resistance stainless steel.

The material used in the project will prevent the building appearance from degrading for several decades despite the salty coastal atmosphere.

3. Abraj Al-Bait Clock Tower | 601 meters | 120 Floors

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Location: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Completed In: 2011
Cost: $15 billion

The government-owned megatall complex, Abraj Al-Bait has the world’s largest clock face. It’s the 5th tallest freestanding structure and the most expensive building in the world with a total construction cost of $15 billion.

The top of the tower has 4-faced clock (400 meters above the ground), visible from 25 kilometers away. Each face measures 43 meters in diameter, and all four faces are illuminated by 2,000,000 LED lights.

The spire at the top of the clock measures 128 meters (height), and it holds a 23-meter tall golden crescent at its top. The highest prayer floor is built at 480 meters and the highest observation deck at 475 meters above the ground.

Read: 16 Interesting Facts About CN Tower

2. Shanghai Tower | 632 meters | 128 Floors

Image credit: Flickr 

Location: Pudong, Shanghai
Completed In: 2014
Cost: $2.34 billion

One of the worlds most stunning architectural marvels, Shanghai Tower represents a green future for China. It takes the form of 9 cylindrical buildings placed on top of each other, all enclosed by the layer of transparent glass facade.

The design of the glass facade completes 120-degree twist as it rises: it’s intended to decrease the wind loads on the structure while using less material. The tower used 3/4th of the steel that would require to build a conventional building of a similar height. More than $55 million was saved in material costs.

The tower has 3 shuttle elevators, one of them can travel at the speed of 73.8 km/h, which makes it the world’s fastest elevator installed in a functioning building. At 578.5 meters, the tower also broke the record for the furthest traveling single elevator (previously held by the Burj Khalifa).

1. Burj Khalifa | 828 meters | 163 Floors

Image credit: Goodfreephotos

Location: Dubai
Completed In: 2009
Cost: $1.5 billion

Apart from being the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa holds numerous records: it has the highest number of stories, tallest service elevator, highest occupied floor, and highest outdoor observation deck in the world.

It took over 55,000 tons of steel rebar, 110,000 tons of concrete, and 22,000,000 man-hours to complete the structure. At the peak of its construction, about 12,000 people (including laborers and engineers) worked on the building per day.

Read: Jeddah Tower: World’s Tallest Building By 2020 – All You Need To Know

An average of 964,000 liters of water is supplied through 100 kilometers of pipes installed in the building. The air conditioning system is designed to draw cooler/cleaner air from the upper floors. During extremely hot days, it delivers 46 megawatts of cooling, which is equivalent to that provided by 12 million kilograms of melting ice in a single day.

When all maintenance units are working, it takes 36 laborers up to 4 months to clean the entire structure’s exterior. The cleaning system alone cost over $5 million.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is an experienced science and technology journalist interested in machines, AI, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out what his latest project is, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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