The subject of the tallest building in the world has always been ripe with architectural controversy. From the last minute spire of the Chrysler Building to the “vanity height” used to game the system. There’s an organization, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), that comments and ranks buildings but the Skyscraper Museum has come out with its own list which include buildings that have topped out but may not yet be open. The CTBUH waits for a building to be officially open.
10. KK100, Shenzhen China: 1449 Feet
This mixed-use office and hotel tower in Shenzhen is 100 floors, as its name suggests.
9. Sears/Willis Tower, Chicago: 1451 feet
Still in the top 10, the 1974 Willis tower in Chicago beat New York City World Trade Center record for world’s tallest by 82 feet, and held this title for 20 years until the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur beat it. Petronas is not on this list because it contains just 88 floors.
8. International Commerce Center, Hong Kong: 1588 feet
The International Commerce Center holds a lot of records: tallest building in Hong Kong, highest swimming pool in the world, highest cocktail lounge in the world, highest hotel in the world.
7. Shanghai World Financial Center: 1614 feet
The Shanghai World Financial Center in Pudong, designed by Kohn Pederson Fox has the second highest hotel in the world, after Hong Kong’s International Commerce Center and when completed, was the second tallest building in the world.
6. Taipei 101: 1667 feet
Taipei 101, the skyscraper often likened to a stack of Chinese takeout boxes (though actually inspired by pagoda architecture), has a stabilizing sphere that can be seen on tours to the observation deck. It was the world’s tallest building for seven years.
5. CTF Finance Center, Guangzhou: 1739 feet
Also by Kohn Pederson Fox, this building will be the second tallest in China when it is opened. The height topped out in the middle of 2014.
4. One World Trade Center, New York: 1776 feet
With a symbolic height of 1776 feet, 1 WTC wasn’t intended to be the tallest in the world, but it hoped to be the tallest in the United States. A redesign (due to budget cuts) of the spire potentially would deem it shorter than the Willis Tower in Chicago but the CTBUH ruled in November 2013 that it was structural.
3. Makkah Royal Clock Tower, Mecca: 1972 feet
Located in Mecca, this is actually the world’s highest clock and the world’s highest prayer room. Below the clock is a hotel but inside the clock structure contains, according to the Skyscraper Museum an “astrological observatory, exhibition space, observation deck, and the Makkah Time Institute.”
2. Shanghai Tower: 2073 feet
The Four Seasons Hotel will be at the top of this spiraling skyscraper, not too far from the Shanghai World Financial Center. There are 121 occupiable floors.
1. Burj Kalifa, Dubai: 2717 feet
The Burj Kalifa continues to reign tall among the world’s tallest buildings, completed five years ago. Writes the Skyscraper Museum “Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world in all three categories of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Taller than two Empire State Buildings, it surpasses the current second-tallest structure, Shanghai Tower, by nearly 700 feet.”