Top 10 Tallest Buildings in the World

Ever since humanity started building stuff, the ambition existed to make buildings reach higher and higher skies. With the start of the 20th Century and new innovative construction techniques, skyscrapers started to increasingly dominate the panorama of modern cities (at least in North America). This trend escalated even more so with the start of the 21st Century (especially in Asia). Today, the world’s tallest buildings are standing well above 500 meters or 1,700 feet tall. The following list ranks the tallest buildings in the world today. While strictly speaking not buildings in the engineering sense, tower structures are also included here.

The 10 Tallest Buildings in the World

1. Burj Khalifa

The Burj Khalifa is the by far tallest building in the world. The United Arab Emirates built the skyscraper as a spectacular neo-futuristic symbol for its oil-driven wealth. It is named after Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the United Arab Emirates who co-financed the building. Construction began in 2004 and concluded only 5 years later in 2009. The skyscraper offers lots of high-class office spaces as well as many luxury apartments on its 163 floors. The Burj Khalifa is owned by Emaar Properties, the largest real estate company in the UAE.

2. Tokyo Skytree

tallest tower
Credit: Kakidai / Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Tokyo Skytree is the largest nonbuilding tower in the world. The tower was built and is owned by Tobu Railway, a major railway company in Japan. Tobu built the tower as the centerpiece of a huge commercial complex. It serves as an observation, but most importantly as a broadcasting tower. The construction of such became necessary after the old main broadcasting tower in the city, the Tokyo Tower, no longer was able to provide a satisfactory coverage of digital terrestrial televison due to being surrounded by other high-rise buildings. As a observation tower, the structure offers a capacity of close to 3,000 people. Construction of the Tokyo Skytree began in 2008 and in 2012 the tower was completed. The total construction costs amounted to around $600 million.

3. Shanghai Tower

Credit: Stefan Fussan / Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Plans for the Shanghai Tower existed since the early 1990s. The tower was supposed to be the glaring symbol of Pudong, the financial business district of Shanghai, the largest city in the world. On its 128 above ground floors (and additional 5 below ground floors), the skyscraper offers commercial spaces as well as many high-class office spaces for Chinese and international companies. The floors can be reached by the world’s fastest elevator (alongside the one in the Ping An International Finance Centre, see below). The construction for the Shanghai Tower started in 2008 and ended in 2014. The construction costs amounted to around $2.4 billion, making it the most expensive building in Chinese history. The Shanghai Tower is owned by a state-owned consortium of several Chinese real estate and construction companies.

4. Abraj Al-Bait

clock tower mecca
By King Eliot / Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The holiest city in Islam features the 4th tallest building structure in the world. The Abraj Al-Bait is also the world’s tallest clock tower building. Its clock face has a diameter of 46 meters or 151 feet making it also the world’s largest clock face on a building. The 7-year construction period generated total costs of a whopping $15 billion, making the Abraj Al-Bait also the most expensive building ever built. While the 120 floors of the building do offer residential apartments, the Abraj Al-Bait mainly functions as a hotel. As such, it is, you guessed it, also the currently largest hotel in the world. Up to 100,000 guests, mainly Muslim worshippers from all around the world who come to Mecca for their religious pilgrimage, can stay in the building at once. Construction of the Abraj Al-Bait began in 2004 and concluded in 2011. The construction was mainly led by the Saudi Binladin Group, the largest construction company in the Saudi kingdom. The building is owned entirely by the Saudi government however.

5. Ping An International Finance Center

As one of the fastest emerging cities in China, Shenzhen now also features one of the tallest buildings in the world. The Ping An International Finance Centre offers commercial as well as office spaces on 115 above ground floors (and 5 below ground ones). Alongside the Shanghai Tower, the skyscraper also includes the world’s fastest elevator. Construction of China’s second tallest building began in 2010 and ended in 2017, costing a total of around $1.5 billion. The owner and namesake of the building is Ping An Insurance, a major Chinese insurance and financial services conglomerate. The company’s headquarters are in the building.

6. Lotte World Tower

7. One World Trade Center

8. Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre

Credit: BD2412 / Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

9. Guangzhou Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre

Credit: そらみみ / Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

10. China Zun

Credit: Bairuilong / Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The 10 Tallest Buildings in the World
(at a glance)

(as of November 2019)

Top 10 Tallest Buildings in the World:
Dubai, UAE
829 meters / 2,722 feet
Tokyo, Japan
634 meters / 2,080 feet
Shanghai, China
632 meters / 2,073 feet
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
601 meters / 1,972 feet
Shenzhen, China
599 meters / 1,965 feet
Seoul, South Korea
555 meters / 1,823 feet
New York City, USA
541 meters / 1,776 feet
Tianjin, China
530 meters / 1,740 feet
Guangzhou, China
530 meters, 1,739 feet
Beijing, China
527 meters / 1,731 feet
Want to get informed about new fresh rankings? Subscribe to the
All Top Everything Newsletter!