A skyscraper is a notably tall building that stands out above the neighboring buildings and is a significant symbol in a city’s skyline. In the last few decades, there have been some significant changes, and the baton for tall buildings has been passed from West to East. Historically, in the 19th century, the term skyscraper referred to buildings featuring 10-20 floors. The transition in the height of the tallest buildings owing to the advanced construction technology has also changed the definition of the tallest buildings to structures possessing more than 40 floors. Associated terms include ‘supertall,‘ for buildings above a height of 984 feet and ‘megatall’ for skyscrapers reaching beyond 1,969 feet.
The skyscrapers share the most characteristic feature of the steel framework that supports curtain walls allowing them to reach the heavens with cutting edge designs. They differ from the conventional structures as they do not rest on the load-bearing walls. They either bear on the framework below or are suspended from the framework above. The curtain wall system is an outer covering of the building that is non-structural and are utilized to keep the weather out and the occupants in. These are usually made of lightweight materials, and lead to cost-cutting in construction.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), is the leading authority on the tall building construction and is also responsible for ranking the tallest skyscrapers of the world. It sets the standards by which these buildings are measured and maintains a list of the top 100 tallest buildings (completed) in the world. Building with continuously occupiable floors are included, and hence, a non-building structure like bridges and towers are not included.
The world’s top 10 tallest skyscrapers are:
Burj Khalifa (Dubai):
- The tallest free-standing structure in the world, Burj Khalifa, rises to an incredible height of 2,723 feet and comprises of 160 stories. The classic Islamic architecture drew inspiration from a desert flower. Nonetheless, the design is practical and efficient, built to withstand the strong winds and high pressure at the higher floors. The construction of the skyscraper used lesser steel as compared to NYC’s Empire State Building. The mass of the building reduces as we move upward from the flat base into a spiraling pattern. At the pinnacle, the core emerges into a spire. Burj Khalifa has maintained its record of the highest building for a remarkable period and has marked a significant milestone in the human conquest, on this planet.
Shanghai Tower (China):
- Rotating at a total 120 degrees from the ground to tip, the Gensler’s Shanghai Tower does a twist at the top and showcases a striking design. Featuring a maximum height of 2,073 feet, the building’s turning at the tip, helps in reducing the crushing load of the winds. The battering of the skyscraper is reduced by an impressive 24 per cent, due to the remarkable design. The tiered construction, designed for high energy efficiency, provides nine separate zones divided between office, retail and leisure use. It also accommodates the world’s tallest observation deck within a structure and 106 Mitsubishi-designed elevators, traveling at the speed of 64 feet per second. Honored with a LEED Gold rating, the building has 270 wind turbines, providing all power for external lighting.
Makkah Royal Clock Tower (Saudi Arabia):
- Located in the heart of Mecca, and right opposite to the world’s largest and most sacred mosque, the Great Mosque of Mecca, the Makkah Royal Clock Tower is the third tallest building in the world. With a height of 1,972 feet, it is surrounded by six smaller buildings and is inclusive of a hotel, observation decks, exhibitions and more. The building is famous for its most dominant feature of four colossal clock faces, which are the largest and highest in the world. The clocks at night are lit by One million LEDs, with the writing ‘God is the Greatest’ on the North and South sides. Whereas the East and West facing sides are adorned with verses from Koran.
Ping An International Finance Centre (China):
- Designed by the American architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, and commissioned by Ping An Insurance, the skyscraper is a 115-floored megatall building in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. Completed in 2017, it is the fourth tallest building in the world. Mostly taken up by office space, the building accommodates almost 9,000 visitors to its impressive observation deck, located at the height of 1,804 feet. The Ping An Finance Centre’s tapering form is shaped to a sculpted facade to mitigate the wind effect.
Lotte World Tower (South Korea):
- Standing out from Seoul’s rocky, mountainous topography, the Lotte World Tower is equipped with numerous functions, more than is usually found in a tall building. Inspired from traditional Korean art forms, the sleek tapered shape of the building is 1,820 feet high. The 123 floors include spaces for office, hotel, retail and studio apartments accommodation. The top 10 stories are confined for extensive public use and entertainment sources like glass-bottom observation deck and a rooftop cafe. The skyscraper also poses sustainable technology, including solar panels, wind turbines, and water-harvesting systems.
One World Trade Center (USA):
- Recapturing the New York skyline, One World Trade Centre reasserts Manhattan’s preeminence as a business center. It is the only Western skyscraper making it to the top 10 tallest skyscrapers. Nonetheless, it makes up for it in quality. It derives its name from the buildings that were destroyed in the September 11 attack, the One Trade Centre rises at the height of 1,776 feet. The height is significant, in that 1,776 feet match the year the US declared its independence. The tower gives an overall effect in a crystalline form, that captures a display of refracted light, changing with the day and weather conditions. The design solution of the tower is an innovative mix of architecture, structure, urban design, safety and sustainability.
Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre (China):
- The efficient synthesis of multiple uses laid the framework for the design of the building. Careful attention was paid to the materials used in the construction of the building, as subtle terra cotta mullions line the tower’s elevations. With a height of over 1,739 feet, the building sits overlooking the Pearl River. The centre is used by over 30,000 people daily and includes a hotel, an office and residential space since its opening in 2016.
- They have installed 95 Hitachi-designed elevators, recorded as the world’s fastest. Owing to the materials used in its construction and several energy-efficient tools, aid the country in reducing its environmental footprints.
Taipei 101 (Taiwan):
- Representing worldwide precedence for sustainable development, the Taipei 101 stands in the Xinyi District of Taipei, an area famous for its financial services and vibrant shopping malls. It achieved a ‘LEED Platinum’ certification for Operations and Maintenance in 2011. Until 2009, the Taipei 101, was the tallest skyscraper but later was surpassed by Burj Khalifa. At the height of 1,667 feet, it is designed to withstand severe winds and earthquakes that can occur in the region. It also constitutes an energy-efficient double-paned glass curtain wall, low-flow water fixtures and an advanced energy management system. Nearly every aspect of the building is steeped in symbolism and has become a central component of new year celebration in Taiwan.
The Shanghai World Financial Centre (China):
- The emergence of the city as the global capital is symbolized by the Shanghai World Financial Centre, in the form of commerce and culture. The mix-use of the building is a vertical city, containing 62 office floors, conference facilities, urban retail, dining spaces and a 174-room five-star Park Hyatt Hotel at the top. Hence, making it the world’s highest hotel. The intersection of two sweeping arcs and a square prism represent ancient Chinese symbols of Heaven and Earth, respectively. In addition to these features, the trapezoid void towards the top adds to its uniqueness and serves the practical purpose of reducing the wind load.
International Commerce Centre (China):
- Measuring an official height of 1,588 feet, the skyscraper rises almost half a kilometer over Hong Kong, and is a paragon of good management, from a commercial, environmental and community standpoint. It houses some of the most prominent financial institutions in the world. The building is equipped with energy-saving features like a low emission curtain wall and natural lighting of the atrium. But the most striking feature of the building is the double-decker elevators with destination control and power regeneration functions. The building was completed in 2010, and was officially marked as the 4th tallest building, but slipped to the 10th tallest building overtime.
Below given table mentions details of the top 10 tallest buildings in the world:
|Rank||Building Name||City||Height (ft)|
|1||Burj Khalifa||Dubai (UAE)||2,717|
|2||Shanghai Tower||Shanghai (China)||2,073|
|3||Makkah Royal Clock Tower||Mecca (Saudi Arabia)||1,972|
|4||Ping An Finance Center||Shenzhen (China)||1,965|
|5||Lotte World Tower||Seoul (Korea)||1,819|
|6||One World Trade Center||New York City (USA)||1,776|
|7||Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre||Guangzhou (China)||1,739|
|8||TAIPEI 101||Taipei (Taiwan)||1,667|
|9||Shanghai World Financial Center||Shanghai (China)||1,614|
|10||International Commerce Centre||Hong Kong (China)||1,588|