Humans, we’re an odd sort. We always want to outdo one another, and in many cases continually better our own accomplishments. Bigger, stronger, faster, higher; we can’t seem to excel enough. We’re constantly testing our limits, the limits of physics, and the limits of Mother Nature. When it comes to architecture we seem to constantly push the boundaries of height. New compounds, building materials, and a better understanding of construction and design have allowed us to reach unprecedented heights, literally. Our buildings have become taller and it’s no coincidence that the most monstrous skyscrapers on earth have been built in the last twenty-five years. Here are the fifteen tallest skyscrapers in the world.
14 Jin Mao Tower -- Shanghai, China: 1,380 feet
Standing 1,380 feet (421 meters) tall the Jin Mao Tower opened in 1999. The building primarily serves as office space, but it also includes a hotel, shopping center, restaurants, a nightclub and an observation deck. The largest tenant is the Hyatt hotel which occupies over thirty floors and features a piano bar, café, several high-end restaurants and bars, a fitness center, swimming pool, and its own express elevator.
13 Trump International Hotel and Tower -- Chicago, U.S.: 1,389 feet
Built in 2009 this building is a combination of condos and high-priced hotel. It is 1,389 feet tall (423 meters) and cost $847 million to construct. The building was constructed on the site of the old Chicago Sun Times building near the river in downtown Chicago. In addition to the hotel and condos there is a restaurant located on the sixteen floor, a spa, and an exterior plaza, however it is the stunning views offered to hotel visitors that this hotel is most known for.
12 Guangzhou International Finance Center -- Guangzhou, China: 1,440 feet
This skyscraper contains 103 floors and was completed in 2010 for the cost of $280 million. It’s primarily an office building, though there’s a Four Seasons hotel on the higher floors and an observation deck near the top. Originally this building was known as the Guangzhou West Tower. There were plans to build and even taller eastern structure, but that has yet to come to fruition. This building is 1,440 feet (440 meters) tall.
11 KK100 -- Shenzhen, China: 1,449 feet
Formerly known as Kingkey 100 this skyscraper stands 1,449 feet tall (442 meters.) It’s a mixed-use building and contains both hotel and office space. There’s a garden, multiple restaurants, luxury shopping, a supermarket, and an IMAX theater. The hotel is actually a six-star business hotel. Construction of KK100 was completed in 2011.
10 Willis Tower -- Chicago, U.S.: 1,450 feet
Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower stands 1,450 feet (442 meters) high and it’s the only building on this list built before 1998. The Willis Tower first opened in 1973 and was built for roughly $150 million. It’s the first building to use a method of construction called the bundled tube structure – which allowed the building to reach such great heights. It’s currently eleventh on this list but for the longest time it was the tallest skyscraper in the world.
9 Zifeng Tower -- Nanjing, China: 1,480 feet
This 1,480 foot (450 meter) skyscraper opened in 2010. It contains 89 stories of retail and office space which also features a hotel, restaurants and an observation deck. This skyscraper took five years to construct and contains 54 lifts and elevators.
8 T8) Petronas Tower 1&2 -- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 1,483 feet
From 1998 until 2004 the dual skyscrapers known as the Twin Petronas Towers were considered the tallest buildings in the world. Tower two is leased out to various tenants including; Reuters, Microsoft, AVEVA, and others. Together these buildings cost $1.6 billion to construct. They stand 1,483 feet (451.9 meters) high.
Petronas tower one is entirely inhabited by Petronas, subsidiaries of Petronas or small holding companies owned by the larger corporation. It connects to tower two via a sky bridge located on the 41st and 42nd floors of the towers. Various high-end retail establishments occupy the base of the towers. In addition, there’s an art gallery, an aquarium, and a science center.
7 International Commerce Center -- Hong Kong, Hong Kong: 1,588 feet
This 118 story skyscraper stands 1,588 feet (484 meters) tall. It was finished in 2010 after eight years of construction and stands as the tallest building in Hong Kong and the fourth tallest building in China. There is a five-star Ritz Carlton hotel located in the building. There’s also an observation deck and the world's highest swimming pool – which is located on the 118th floor. The Presidential Suite is particularly expensive and extravagant.
6 Shanghai World Finance Center -- Shanghai, China: 1,614 feet
Constructed at the cost of $1.2 billion, the Shanghai World Finance Center is a mixed-use skyscraper containing office space, a hotel, a museum, parking, retail and multiple observation decks. It opened in 2008 and at the time was the second tallest structure in the world. The building contains an iconic trapezoidal aperture design near the top.
5 Taipei 101 -- Taipei, Taiwan: 1,669 feet
This building opened in 2004 and features 101 stories containing mixed office space, retail, eateries, and various observation decks. It is a LEEDS Platinum Certified designed building and contains a number of interesting features, including; the world's fastest ascending elevator, the largest countdown clock, the tallest sundial, and steel pendulum tuned mass dampener. It stands 1,669 feet (509 meters) high and cost $1.8 billion to construct.
4 One World Trade Center -- New York City, New York 1,776 feet
Set to open this year, the One World Trade Center sits on the location of the former World Trade Center buildings. It will stand 1,776 feet (541 meters) high and feature primarily office space. The estimated cost for constructing it is roughly $3.9 billion. When completed it will be the tallest structure in the United States.
3 Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel -- Mecca, Saudi Arabia: 1,972 feet
Formally called the Abraj Al-Bait Towers, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel stands at an impressive 1,972 feet (601 meters) high. It was finished in 2012 after eight years of construction. The top of the building features a four-faced clock which is not only the highest clock in the world but is also visible from a distance of 16 miles. During construction of this building there were two fires – amazingly no one was hurt in either fire.
2 Shanghai Tower -- Shanghai, China: 2,073 feet
Costing an estimated $4.2 billion to construct, the Shanghai Tower will be the tallest structure in Asia when it’s completed. It will stand 2,073 feet (or 632 meters) tall and feature 121 floors. Some of the initial planning for this structure began as far back as 1993. The designers have incorporated numerous green initiatives into the design of this building with the hope of earning LEEDS certification. While this building isn’t open yet it is set to be completed and open to the public in 2015.
1 Burj Khalifa -- Dubai, United Arab Emirates: 2,717 feet
Since 2010 this has been the tallest man-made structure in the world. Standing at 2,717 feet (828 meters) tall and featuring 163 floors, it is an impressive structure to sat the least. This building cost $1.5 billion to build and contains mixed occupancy which includes residential living, office space, hotel space, corporate suites, and restaurants. The building has won numerous awards for its design. It contains more than 4,000 tons of structural steel and is so tall that it has become the world's new greatest place to base jump, both legally and otherwise.