The 10 Tallest Buildings in the World

January 22, 2024

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The Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world

From 1931 to 1971, the Empire State Building in New York was the tallest building in the world. A 102-story skyscraper, its tallest height was 1,472 feet when a 222-foot antenna was added in 1950. However, the Empire State Building lost its tallest building title in 1972, when the 1,730-foot-high World Trade Center officially opened.

Today, most of the world’s tallest buildings are in the Eastern Hemisphere, with China taking the crown for having the most buildings in the top ten.

Keep reading to find out what these buildings are, what the world’s tallest building is, and whether the United States makes it onto the list of the 10 tallest buildings in the world today.

1. Burj Khalifa

Burj Kahlifa and other buildings in Dubai lit up at night
Burj Khalifa lit up at night
Height: 828 m (2,717 ft)
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Floors: 163
Completed: 2009

The tallest building in the world is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at just over 828 meters high. Completed in 2009, the skyscraper has held this title for more than a decade, with none of the other buildings on this list even coming close.

The building’s design was led by architect Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with construction beginning in 2004. It was officially opened six years later as the centerpiece of the Downtown Dubai mixed-use complex — which is also home to some of Dubai’s other large landmarks, like the Dubai Mall and the Dubai Fountain.

Rising 163 floors, Burj Khalifa consists of residential apartments, restaurants, hotels, and corporate suites. 

As well as being the tallest building in the world, the skyscraper has the world’s highest observation deck, the world’s highest service elevator, and the largest number of stories.

2. Merdeka 118

Merdeka 118 dominates the skyline in Kuala Lumpur
Merdeka 118 towers over other buildings in Kuaka Lumpur
Height: 678.9 m (2,227 ft)
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Floors: 118
Completed: 2023

At over 678 meters tall, Merdeka 118, in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, is the world’s second-tallest building.

The newest building on this list, construction didn’t start until 2017 and it only opened recently. The building’s spire, however — which marked its final height — was completed in October 2021.

Merdeka 118 consists of retail outlets, residential apartments, hotel rooms, and offices, with 60 of the 80 storeys of office space reserved for the project’s developers.

The skyscraper has two observation decks, which are the highest in Southeast Asia, and it will be the first building in Malaysia to be awarded a triple platinum sustainability rating.

3. Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in Shanghai
Shanghai Tower
Height: 632 m | 2,073 ft
Location: Shanghai, China
Floors: 128
Completed: 2014

With a height of 632 meters, Shanghai Tower in China is the third-tallest building in the world.

The skyscraper was designed by international design firm Gensler and construction began in 1997. However, due to funding issues, the building wasn’t completed until 2014.

Shanghai Tower consists of 128 floors and nine cylindrical buildings, which house cafes, restaurants, shops, offices, gardens, and retail outlets.

With a speed of 45.5 miles per hour, the building’s elevator used to be the fastest in the world before it was overtaken by the Guangzhou CTF Finance Center in 2017.

4. Abraj Al Bait Clock Tower

Looking up at the Abarj Al Bait Clock Tower from the ground
View of Abraj Al Bait Clock Tower from the ground
Height: 601 m (1,972 ft)
Location: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Floors: 120
Completed: 2011

Also known as the “Clock Towers” or the “Makkah Royal Clock Tower”, Abraj Al Bait in Saudi Arabia measures 601 meters in height.

The country’s largest construction company — the Saudi Binladin Group —began building the structure in 2004. It cost $15 billion to construct, making it the world’s most expensive building.

The government-owned building is part of a complex of seven skyscrapers consisting of luxury hotels, residential apartments, restaurants, retail outlets, museums, and a prayer area.

As well as being the world’s fourth-tallest and most expensive building, Abraj Al Bait holds other titles for having the largest clock face in the world and the largest floor area of all the world’s skyscrapers.

5. Ping An International Finance Center

City skyline of Shenzhen, dominated by Ping An Finance Center
Aerial view of Ping An Finance Center in Shenzhen city, China
Height: 599.1 m (1,966 ft)
Location: Shenzhen, China
Floors: 115
Completed: 2017

Measuring nearly 600 meters, another Chinese building — Ping An International Finance Center — is the fifth-tallest building in the world.

Designed by the architectural firm behind the Shanghai World Financial Center, construction of the building started in 2010 and took seven years to complete. Originally, the plan was for the structure to be the tallest in China, exceeding the Shanghai Tower by adding a 200-feet-long antenna. However, in 2015 this plan was abandoned over fears the antenna would obstruct flight paths.

Ping An International Finance Center contains over 100 floors of offices, a conference center, hotel rooms, and retail outlets.

The scale of building and construction in Shenzhen has been monumental. In 1979 the tallest building in the city was only five stories tall. Today, the number of skyscrapers stands at 390, making it the city with the second most skyscrapers behind Hong Kong.

6. Lotte World Tower

Lotte World Tower and the city skyline of Seoul at night
Lotte World Tower illuminated at night
Height: 554.5 m (1,819 ft)
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Floors: 123
Completed: 2016

Designed by renowned architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, the Lotte World Tower in South Korea took 13 years to plan and construct.

Like most of the other structures on this list, Lotte World Tower consists of hotel rooms, residential apartments, offices, and retail outlets, however, it also houses the largest indoor theme park in the world, as well as theaters and a Korean folk museum.

In 2016, free-climber Vitaliy Raskalov ascended the top of the tower to record a video, which has been viewed 4.8 million times on YouTube.

7. One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center, New York
Lower Manhattan skyline with a view of One World Trade Center
Height: 541.3 m (1,776 ft)
Location: New York City, United States
Floors: 94
Completed: 2013

Also known as the “Freedom Tower”, One World Trade Center in New York comes seventh on the list of tallest buildings in the world, however it is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), this skyscraper took seven years to complete. 

The main building of Manhattan’s World Trade Center complex, it consists of mostly offices, and has 71 elevators that can reach speeds of up to 23 miles per hour.

One World Trade Center is named after the North Tower of the World Trade Center that was destroyed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

8. Guangzhou CTF Finance Center

Guangzhou CTF Finance Center as seen at night
Guangzhou central business district at night.
Height: 530 m (1,739 ft)
Location: Guangzhou, China
Floors: 111
Completed: 2016

Construction on the Guangzhou CTF Finance Center — which started in 2010 and finished in 2016 — was carried out by US architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF).

The 116-floor building contains hotel rooms, residential apartments, offices, a conference area, and a shopping mall. On the eleventh floor, there’s also an observation deck, which is only slightly lower than Burj Khalifa’s.

Another of the building’s accolades is that it has the world’s fastest elevator, which reaches speeds of up to 47 miles per hour. 

9. Tianjin CTF Finance Center

Tianjin CTF Finance Center in the business district of Binhai, Tianjin
Tianjin CTF Finance Center
Height: 530 m (1,739 ft)
Location: Tianjin, China
Floors: 97
Completed: 2019

Again in China and again with a height of 530 meters, Tianjin CTF Finance Center shares the joint eighth and spot on this list with the Guangzhou CTF Finance Center.

Construction of the building took six years from 2013 to 2019, and its well-thought-out design has resulted in a high-performing yet cost-effective structure. With sustainable strategies that include optimized daylight and green landscaping, Tianjin CTF Finance Center has been built to LEED Gold standards.

A five-star hotel, serviced luxury apartments, and upmarket offices are located inside the building.

10. CITIC Tower (China Zun)

CITIC Tower, commonly known as China Zun
CITIC Tower dominates the Beijing skyline
Height: 527.7 m (1,731 ft)
Location: Beijing, China
Floors: 109
Completed: 2018

China features for the fifth time on this list, this time for its CITIC Tower, which stands at just over 1,730 feet.

Commonly known as “China Zun”, the skyscraper was designed by the esteemed company Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), with construction by multinational architectural firm, Arup, beginning in 2012. 

Another mixed-use building, CITIC Tower features 60 floors of office space, 20 floors of luxury apartments, and 20 floors of hotel rooms.

While the building’s ground-breaking ceremony took place in 2011 with constructors expecting to have the project finished within five years, it wasn’t actually completed until 2018.

Overview: The world’s tallest buildings

RankBuildingHeight (m)Height (ft)Location
1Burj Khalifa8282,717Dubai, United Arab Emirates
2Merdeka 118678.92,227Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
3Shanghai Tower6322,073Shanghai, China
4Abraj Al Bait Clock Tower6011,972Mecca, Saudi Arabia
5Ping An International Finance Center599.11,966Shenzhen, China
6Lotte World Tower554.51,819Seoul, South Korea
7One World Trade Center541.31,776New York City, United States
8Guangzhou CTF Finance Center5301,739Guangzhou, China
9Tianjin CTF Finance Center5301,739Tianjin, China
10CITIC Tower (China Zun)527.71,731Beijing, China

Data Sources:
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

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