The World's Tallest Buildings

August 28, 2018

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa, Dubai

In the past, skyscrapers were mostly associated with the United States, particularly New York and Chicago. Beginning in the 1870s, innovations in architecture allowed the construction of ten-story buildings, which at the time was an amazing accomplishment.

For the next few decades, the heights of buildings continued to rise, eventually increasing to over 400 meters with the completion of the Empire State building in 1931. Today, that building is not even one of the 25 tallest in the world. Much of the new construction has shifted to Asia and the Middle East, where the tallest skyscrapers now stand.

Burj Khalifa (828 meters)

Standing at 828 meters tall, the Burj Khalifa building in the United Arab Emirate city of Dubai is the world’s tallest building. Completed in 2010, the building is so high that it is 200 meters taller than the next highest building. It is also the tallest structure of any type ever built. There are 57 elevators that service the 154 usable floors.

On the highest floors, the sun is still visible on the horizon for a few minutes after it sets, leading some Islamic religious scholars to declare that those living on the highest floors should wait a few extra minutes after sunset to break their fast during Ramadan.

Shanghai Tower (632 meters)

Built in 2015, Shanghai Tower is the second tallest building in the world. Although it does not hold the record for the world’s tallest building, it has the world’s fastest elevators, which travel between the 128 floors at 74 kilometers per hour. The façade of the building is recognizable for its 120 degree twist, which was done to reduce the force of winds against the structure. There are various types of tenants currently in the building, including offices, residences, and shopping malls.

Abraj al Bait (601 meters)

Located in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the Abraj al Bait building stands at 601 meters, making it the second tallest building in the Middle East and the third tallest in the world by only a few meters. Completed in 2012, it is right next to the world’s largest mosque and the most sacred religious site of Islam.

The most distinguishing feature of the building is the Royal Clock Tower, which is the largest clock face in the world. With a final cost of over 15 billion US dollars, it is the most expensive building ever built.

Ping An Finance Center (599 meters)

Though it is not the tallest building in China, the Ping An Finance Center is the fourth tallest building in the world, standing just under 600 meters tall. As the name suggests, the main occupant is the Ping An Insurance company, but there are also various retail and office spaces, including a high-end mall.

The original plan was to extend the length of the building’s antenna so it could become the tallest building in China, which is currently the Shanghai Tower. That plan was abandoned, however, when it was determined that such an antenna would get in the way of flight paths.

Lotte World Tower (554 meters)

The tallest building in East Asia outside of China is the Lotte World Tower, located in Seoul, South Korea. At 554 meters tall, it became the fifth tallest building in the world when it was completed in 2016. The structure is designed to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 9, which would be one of the most powerful ever recorded in the world.

The design also can take wind speeds of up to 80 meters per second. The building is in the shape of a gently sloping cone, which is inspired by Korean ceramic designs. Retail shops and offices are the main occupants of the Lotte World Tower, but there are observation decks and photo zones on the top floors.