Tallest Buildings in the World Slideshow

by Beth Rowen

For thousands of years, buildings have been used to show off power and wealth, to honor leaders or religions, to stretch architectural limits, and even to impress the competition. In the 19th century, engineering developments paved the way for a whole new type of building: the skyscraper. Follow this slideshow to see and learn about the tallest buildings in the world.

Burj Dubai
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Burj Dubai
Even though the Burj Dubai is still under construction, set to be completed in September 2009, it's already the world's tallest manmade structure. As of the end of September 2008, Burj Dubai rose to 2,320 ft (707 m) tall. The exact height is top secret but is estimated to be at least 2,313 ft and 167 floors high. Designed by the firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Burj Dubai features a triple-lobed footprint that was inspired by an abstract rendering of the Hymenocallis, a desert flower native to the area. The structure, which somewhat resembles the Sears Tower, is located in the heart of Dubai's bustling business district. A hotel will occupy the bottom 37 floors of the building. Floors 45 through 108 will house apartments, and corporate offices will take up the remainder of the building.
Fun Fact: Fashion designer Georgio Armani will open the first Armani Hotel in the Burj Dubai and will design its interior.
Photo source: Thomas Doerfer
Taipei 101
Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei 101
With 101 stories that reach 1,671 ft (509 m) high, Taipei 101, also known as the Taipei Financial Center, became the world's tallest building when it was completed in 2003. Designed by C. Y. Lee & Partners, the multi-use steel-and-glass skyscraper echoes a traditional Chinese pagoda with its soaring podium base, eight tiers of eight stories (a number that is a homophone for prosperous growth in Chinese), and narrow pinnacle tower and spire. An 18-ft (5.5-m), 882-ton (800-metric-ton) ball-shaped damper located near the top counteracts swaying during earthquakes and typhoons. Source: Columbia Encyclopedia.
Fun Fact: From 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. every night, Taipei 101's lights are illuminated in one of the seven colors of the spectrum.
Photo source: Alton Thompson
Petronas Towers
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Petronas Tower
Completed in 1997, these two skyscrapers are the world's tallest twin towers. Standing 1,483 ft (452 m) high, they were designed by the Argentinean-American architect Cesar Pelli. The twin towers house Petronas, Malaysia's government-owned oil company, as well as associated Malaysian firms and multinational companies. Built of steel-reinforced concrete columns clad in stainless steel and glass, with a design based on geometric patterns originating in ancient Islam, the 88-story buildings are connected at levels 41 and 42 by a double-decker pedestrian skybridge, and each tower is surmounted by a 242-ft-high (74-m) pinnacle. At the lower level, the Petronas Towers also include a concert hall that is home to the Malaysian Philharmonic and a business reference library. Source: Columbia Encyclopedia.
Fun Fact: Several scenes from the film Entrapment were shot at the Petronas Towers.
Photo source: Ángel Riesgo Martínez
Sears Tower
Chicago, Illinois
Sears Tower
Constructed from 1970 to 1974 for Sears, Roebuck & Co., the tower rises 110 stories to a height of 1,450 ft (442 m). The 253 ft (77 m) television antenna topping it makes it the world's third largest freestanding structure at 1,703 ft (519 m). Designed by the firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the Sears Tower is supported structurally by square tubes of welded steel with floors suspended within the tubes, a technological innovation that was developed specifically for the mammoth tower by architectural engineer Fazlur Kahn. The Sears Tower has an exterior of black aluminum and bronze-toned glass cut by black bands. Source: Columbia Encyclopedia.
Fun Fact: On a clear day, visitors can see Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan from the top of the Sears Tower.
Photo source: Soakologist
Jin Mao Building
Shanghai, China
Jin Mao Building
Completed in 1999 and standing 1,380 ft (420.6 m) high, the Jin Mao Building is China's tallest skyscraper. The belief in Chinese culture that the number 8 brings prosperity factors prominently in the design of the building. The base of the 88-story structure is 16 stories high, and each succeeding section is 1/8th shorter than the one that precedes it. Shaped like a traditional Chinese pagoda, the composite steel-and-concrete structure was designed by the firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Continuing with the theme of the number 8, the building includes eight enormous columns of concrete and eight of steel that surround the tower's concrete core. Retail space occupies the base of the Jin Mao Building, and offices take up floors 3 to 50. The Grand Hyatt Shanghai Hotel resides on floors 53 to 87.
Fun Fact: The Grand Hyatt Shanghai Hotel is the world's tallest five-star hotel.
Photo source: Billatq
Two International Finance Centre
Hong Kong
Two International Finance Centre
International Finance Centre is composed of two skyscrapers: Tower One and Tower Two. The complex sits on the waterfront of the island's Central District. Airport Express Hong Kong Station, which is part of the city's mass transit system and links the financial district and the airport, is located directly below International Finance Centre. Tower One, which is 689 feet (210 m) tall and 38 stories, houses financial institutions. Tower Two, Hong Kong's tallest building, stands 1,362 ft (415 m) tall and rises 88 stories. Architect Cesar Pelli designed the enormous obelisk, which was completed in 2003.
Fun Fact: Several financial institutions operate out of the building, which boasts trading floors with 22-foot ceilings.
Photo source: Ronan Gicquel
CITIC Plaza
Guangzhou, China
CITIC Plaza
At 1,283 ft (391 m) tall, CITIC Plaza is the world's tallest structure made of reinforced concrete. Completed in 1997, the 80-story CITIC Plaza is surrounded by two 38-story apartment buildings. The structure houses the China International Trade and Investment Corporation (CITIC), other financial institutions, and a shopping mall.
Fun Fact: CITIC Plaza was the tallest building in Asia until the Petronas Towers were built.
Photo source: Thomas Doerfer
Shun Hing Square
Shenzhen, China
Shun Hing Square
Located in China's Special Economic Zone, Shun Hing Square rises to 1,260 ft (384 m). Its 69 stories include business offices; a 35-story annex includes residential apartments, a parking garage, and a 5-floor shopping mall. Completed in 1996, Shun Hing Square is the tallest steel building in China.
Fun Fact: Shun Hing Square was built at the stunning rate of four stories every nine days.
Photo source: shenzhenphoto.com
Empire State Building
New York
Empire State Building
Located in central Manhattan on Fifth Ave. between 33rd St. and 34th St, the Empire State Building was designed by the firm of Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon and built in 1930–31. For many years its 102 stories (1,250 ft/381 m high) made it the tallest building in the world. The construction of the World Trade Center ended its reign as the world's and the city's highest skyscraper, but it regained the latter distinction through misfortune when the Trade Center was destroyed in 2001 by a terrorist attack. Source: Columbia Encyclopedia.
Fun Fact: On a very clear day the view from its highest observation tower embraces an area with a circumference of nearly 200 mi (320 km).
Photo source: David Shankbone
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