Sky-High

One World Trade Center and Other World’s Tallest Buildings (PHOTOS)

One World Trade Center is now New York’s tallest structure, but it's not among the world’s highest skyscrapers, which we present here.

The still-under-construction One World Trade Center has gone past 1,250 feet, surpassing the Empire State Building as New York’s tallest skyscraper. Once the tower is completed, its spire will rise 1,776 feet into the air, and the structure probably will be declared the tallest building in the United States—and the third highest in the world. But it still has a long way to go to join these skyscrapers.

Marwan Naamani, AFP / Getty Images

Burj Khalifa

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Height
: 2,717 feet (828 m)
163 floors
Completed/Claimed the title: Jan. 4, 2010

If someone could stay in a building and never have to leave it, this would be the building to choose. Towering above everything else, the Burj Khalifa also claims the title for highest number of stories (160) and elevator with the longest travel distance in the world. The whole cost of the building project was $1.5 billion, and it includes observation decks, restaurants, residences, offices, hotel rooms, parks, water features, fitness clubs, and the Dubai Mall. Tom Cruise memorably scaled the outside of the building in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Patrick Lin, AFP / Getty Images

Taipei 101

Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Height
: 1,667 feet (508 m)
101 floors
Completed: 2004

Taipei 101 became the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 2004, taking the crown from Malaysia’s Petronas Towers. At one point, the building had the world’s fastest elevators. Moving at 36 mph, they take visitors from the ground floor to the 89th in just 37 seconds. The building’s unique design makes it look like a stick of bamboo and it has become a source of national pride in Taiwan. At the time of its opening, a spokesperson said: "Taiwan has achieved a lot economically in the last 40 years. But we don't feel we are respected enough around the world. By building a tall building like this we will let more people know about Taipei, and we hope to attract more tourists here too."

Taipei 101

Philippe Lopez, AFP / Getty Images

Shanghai World Financial Center

Location: Shanghai, China
Height: 1,614 feet (492 m)
101 floors
Completed: 2008

The tallest building in Shanghai is known for a distinctive hole in its top, but there is much more to it than that. The Park Hyatt, which occupies floors 79 through 93, was the highest hotel in the world until it was dethroned by the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong. The 100th-floor observation deck is the highest indoor deck in the world, and glass panels in the floor allow for unobstructed views to the ground below. 

Aaron Tam, AFP / Getty Images

International Commerce Centre

Location: Hong Kong, China
Height
: 1,588 feet (484 m)
108 floors
Completed: 2010

At 1,588 feet, the International Commerce Centre is the tallest building in Hong Kong. Though primarily devoted to office space, it is not solely for business. Occupying floors 102–118 of the tower, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is the world’s highest hotel, which also includes the world’s highest swimming pool and the world’s highest bar. For those who want nice views, but don’t necessarily want to drop the money on the Ritz, there is a public observation deck on the tower’s 100th floor.

AFP / Getty Images

Petronas Towers 1 and 2

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Height: 1,483 feet (452 m)
88 floors
Competed: 1998 

When the Petronas Twin Towers were completed in 1998 and surpassed the Sears Tower as the world’s tallest skyscraper, it was the first time the honor had gone to a building outside the U.S. However, the Sears Tower’s highest occupied floor is actually 200 feet higher than the highest occupied floors in these buildings, but their spires give them the edge. The towers cost $1.6 billion, have 8 million square feet of space, and underground parking for more than 4,500 cars. Above ground, the floor plan of each tower is in the shape of an eight-pointed star.

Zifeng Tower

Location: Nanjing, China
Height: 1,476 feet (450 m)
66 floors
Completed: 2010

The second-tallest building on the Chinese mainland has office space, a hotel, and a shopping mall.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Willis Tower

Location: Chicago
Height: 1,451 feet (442 m)
108 floors
Completed: 1973

Formerly known as the Sears Tower, it was the tallest building in the world until the completion of the Petronas Towers in 1998. In 2009, it was bought by the Willis Group, an insurance company, which resulted in the name change. Much has changed for the building, but with 110 stories, 104 elevators, and 3.8 million square feet of space, it’s still the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere—for now. 

Guy Vanderelst / Getty Images

Kingkey 100

Location: Shenzhen, China
Height: 1,449 feet (442 m)
100 floors
Completed: 2011

The tallest building in Shenzhen features office space and a St. Regis Hotel from floors 75 to 98. The building’s KK mall includes stores, restaurants, and the city’s first IMAX theater. 

AP Photo

Guangzhou International Finance Center

Location: Guangzhou, China
Height: 1,439 feet (439 m)
103 floors
Completed: 2010

The Guangzhou International Finance Center contains office space, a luxury hotel, and a sightseeing area. It was named the Best Tall Building in Asia & Australasia in 2011 by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. 

Trump International Hotel & Tower

Location: Chicago
Height: 1,389 feet (423 m)
98 floors
Completed: 2009

Trust Donald Trump to get his name on one of the world’s tallest buildings. Of course, he had planned for it to be the world’s tallest at more than 1,500 feet. But the day after the Sept. 11 attacks, Trump asked his designers to create a more modest structure. He still ended up with the second-tallest building in North America, at least until One World Trade Center is completed. The finished building has a 339-room hotel, a 23,000-square foot spa, and luxurious condominiums. Fun Fact: The fight between Batman and the Joker in the finale of The Dark Night was filmed at the tower while it was still under construction. 

Eugene Hoshiko / AP Photo

Jin Mao Building

Location: Shanghai, China
Height: 1,380 feet (421 m)
88 floors  
Completed: 1999

Literally translated the “Gold Luxuriance” building, the Jin Mao Tower holds an office building, a shopping center, and what was once the world’s highest hotel. The offices extend from the third to the 50th floor, and supposedly have elevators that require only a 35-second wait time during peak hours. The Grand Hyatt Hotel occupies floors 53 to 87, with a massive atrium that extends to all but three of those floors. It was the world’s highest hotel until the Park Hyatt was placed atop the taller Shanghai World Financial Center in 2008.