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. (Note: Only finished buildings are ranked here).
The 10 Tallest Buildings in the World
1. Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa (“Khalifa Tower”) located in Dubai, UAE is the by far tallest building in the world. The skyscraper was built as a spectacular neo-futuristic symbol for the oil-driven wealth and successful development of the United Arab Emirates. It is named after Sheikh Khalifa, the then President of the United Arab Emirates who co-financed the construction of the building. The construction began in 2004 and concluded only five years later in 2009, while the official opening took place in 2010.
The skyscraper offers 163 floors containing the 5-star Armani Hotel, the world’s highest restaurant, high-end office spaces including corporate suites, and many luxurious residential apartments. The Burj Khalifa is owned by Emaar Properties, the largest real estate company in the UAE.
2. Merdeka 118
Merdeka 118 is the second-tallest building in the world. Located in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, construction of the Merdeka 118 began in 2014 and was completed in 2023. The skyscraper is named after the Malay word for independence (Merdeka) and is supposed to honor Malaysia’s gained independence in 1957.
The building contains 118 floors and will feature mostly high-class office spaces as well as the upscale Park Hyatt Hotel once it officially opens in 2024. The Malaysian government owns the building through its government-owned investment company PNB.
3. Shanghai Tower
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. The construction of the Shanghai Tower finally 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.
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 Shanghai Tower is wholly owned by the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, the local administrative agency of Shanghai.
4. The Clock Tower
The holiest city in Islam features the fourth tallest building in the world. The Clock Tower (originally named ‘Abraj Al-Bait’) also represents the world’s tallest and largest clock tower building. Its clock face has a diameter of 46 meters or 151 feet, additionally making it the world’s largest clock face on a building. The seven-year construction period generated total costs of a whopping $15 billion, making the Abraj Al-Bait also the most expensive building ever built. Construction of The Clock Tower began in 2004 and concluded in 2011.
While the 120 floors of the building offer some residential apartments and also a shopping center, the Abraj Al-Bait mainly functions as a hotel. 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. The building is owned entirely by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
5. Ping An International Finance Center
As one of the fastest emerging cities in China and the world, 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 five below-ground ones). The commercial portion of the tower includes an upscale shopping mall. Construction of China’s second-tallest building began in 2010 and ended in 2017.
The owner and namesake of the building is Ping An Insurance, a major Chinese insurance and financial services conglomerate, which is the world’s largest insurer. The company’s headquarters are located inside the building.
6. Lotte World Tower
The Lotte World Tower is situated in the Seodaemun district of South Korea’s capital Seoul. The multi-purpose tower with 123 floors accommodates a blend of commercial and residential spaces, encompassing high-end offices, upscale apartments, the 5-star Signiel Seoul Hotel as well as multiple restaurants, an upscale gym, and even a medical center including an eye clinic. Construction of the building was initiated in 2010 and completed in 2016 and it officially opened in 2017.
The multi-purpose tower with 123 floors accommodates a blend of commercial and residential spaces, encompassing high-end offices, upscale apartments, the 5-star Signiel Seoul Hotel as well as multiple restaurants, an upscale gym, and even a medical center including an eye clinic. The tower is named after the nearby Lotte World, a big amusement park in Seoul. The park and tower are both owned by the Lotte Corporation, a major South Korean conglomerate mainly involved in the food, chemical, and entertainment industries.
7. One World Trade Center
The One World Trade Center, located in the Lower Manhattan part of New York City, USA comes seventh among the tallest buildings in the world while also being the tallest building outside of Asia. The building was built in the location of the former two towers of the World Trade Center, which were destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The height of 1,776 feet is not coincidental but symbolically chosen in honor of the year 1776 when the American Declaration of Independence was written. Groundbreaking for the One World Trade Center took place in 2006, and the tower was completed in 2014.
The tower contains 94 above-ground floors and five below-ground floors. Much like the original two towers, the One World Trade Center mainly offers corporate office spaces, but also a restaurant. The building is wholly owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a joint venture between the two states in charge of overseeing the local public infrastructure.
8. Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre
Situated in the city of Tianjin, China, stands the eighth among the tallest buildings in the world. The Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre was built from 2013 until its completion in 2019. Functioning as a versatile complex, the multi-purpose tower accommodates various facilities, especially premium office spaces, but also luxury apartments, and an exclusive 5-star boutique hotel.
The tower possesses 97 floors and it is named after Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, a major Hong Kong-based conglomerate known for its diverse business ventures, mainly the jewelry, transportation, and real estate businesses. The company is also the owner of the building.
9. Guangzhou Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre
The Guangzhou Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre is the ninth-tallest building in the world and is located in Guangzhou, the capital of the Southeastern Chinese province of Guangdong. Construction started in 2010 and finished in 2016. The multi-purpose tower mainly includes office spaces and high-end apartments, but also a shopping mall, restaurants, and the 5-star Rosewood Guangzhou Hotel.
The building measures 111 above-ground floors and five below-ground floors. The floors can be reached by what is currently the world’s fastest elevator. The tower is also owned by and named after Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, the Hong Kong-based conglomerate mainly involved in the jewelry, transportation, and real estate industries. It is only slightly shorter than its sibling tower in Tianjin.
10. CITIC Tower
The top ten list of the world’s tallest buildings concludes with the CITIC Tower, also known as ‘China Zun’. The building is located right in the heart of the downtown area of China’s capital Beijing. Construction started in 2012 and the building was finished and opened in 2018. The tower mainly offers some of the most high-end office spaces in China, but also features a shopping mall on its below-ground floors.
In total, the CITIC Tower has 109 above-ground floors and 8 below-ground ones. The tower is named after and owned by CITIC Group Corporation, China’s largest and most important investment company involved in the metals, fossil fuel, food, and construction businesses. The company’s headquarters are located within the tower.
The 10 Tallest Buildings in the World
(as of December 2023)
|Top 10 Tallest Buildings in the World:
|1. BURJ KHALIFA
829 meters / 2,722 feet
|2. MERDEKA 118
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
634 meters / 2,080 feet
|3. SHANGHAI TOWER
632 meters / 2,073 feet
|4. THE CLOCK TOWER
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
601 meters / 1,972 feet
|5. PING AN INTERNATIONAL FINANCE CENTER
599 meters / 1,965 feet
|6. LOTTE WORLD TOWER
Seoul, South Korea
555 meters / 1,823 feet
|7. ONE WORLD TRADE CENTER
New York City, USA
541 meters / 1,776 feet
|8. TIANJIN CHOW TAI FOOK FINANCE CENTRE
530 meters / 1,740 feet
|9. GUANGZHOU CHOW TAI FOOK FINANCE CENTRE
530 meters, 1,739 feet
|10. CIVIC TOWER
528 meters / 1,731 feet
|The ten tallest buildings in the world by architectural height. Only finished buildings are counted in the ranking. Structures and unfinished buildings under construction are disregarded.
Updated as of December 2023.