Architecture and structural engineering has a long long history although the practices may not have been as scientific or professional as they are today. The first man-made structures in the world were built mostly to cover basic needs like accommodating one’s self in a shelter or praying in a temple.
The first ‘known’ mad-made architectural structure is in “Göbekli Tepe“, located in Şanlıurfa, Turkey. It is known to have been a temple used by some hunter-gatherer groups having resided in the area and the now-an-excavation-site area is quite significant in terms of the fact that its discovery has completely changed our perception of hunter-gatherer societies, providing clues on temples and cities built by them. Having been built in the 10th millennium BC, the area is thought to have been abandoned in the 8th millennium BC. It is also suggested by the archaeologist Klaus Schmidt that the temple was used by a cult of the dead, showing the scattered animal bones within the area as well as the animal figures on its wall as evidence.
However, through the evolution of architectural perceptions, aesthetics and theology (maybe even the sense of authority), man has taken up the motto ‘the sky is the limit’, resulting in the building of taller and taller structures.
Lincoln Cathedral, located in Lincoln, Canterbury, England, had been the tallest building in the world from 1311 till 1549 with a spire height of 160 meters . The building, still intact, has 3 towers with 20 bells, however, it is known that over 1 million Pounds have to be spent in order to keep the building in well shape.
Lincoln Cathedral, one of the tallest historical buildings in the world
The ‘build taller’ scheme was of course not limited to the 14th century throughout the world. In the 17th century, for instance, Strasbourg in France was the home to one of the tallest buildings in the world, a title which was held by Strasbourg Cathedral also known as Strasbourg Minster. Built in slightly over 300 years in 1439, Strasbourg Cathedral is still among the tallest churches in the world with a spire height of 142 meters. Also having one of the largest astronomical clocks within its structure, the cathedral was damaged by British and American bombs in WWII, but the damaged parts was rebuilt.
Strasbourg Cathedral – Once the tallest building in the world
In the 19th century, religious buildings were still expected to be really, really tall. In this fashion, Ulm Minster was completed in 1890. The interesting fact about Ulm Minster is that its construction actually began in 1377, but was never completed due to political and religious reasons. Today, Ulm Minster, located in Ulm, Germany, is the tallest church in the world and the tallest structure completed before the beginning of the 20th century. The height of the building is 161.5 meters.
Ulm Minster – The tallest building in the world in late 19th century
So, what is the tallest building in the world today?
As of today, the definitions of concepts are a bit more complicated and more precise. For instance, The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat makes a clear distinction between a tower and a building by saying a structure can be called a building only if:
at least fifty percent of its height is made up of floor plates containing habitable floor area .
If it isn’t, then it’s a tower, not a building, according to the Council on Tall buildings and Urban Habitat. So let’s have a look at the 10 tallest buildings in the world together.
10. Petronas Tower 2, Kuala Lumpur
Petronas Towers – Among the top-10 tallest buildings in the world
Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia form a huge complex of offices and tourist attractions with their 88+5 (basement) floors. Designed by the architect Cesar Pelli and completed in 1996, the building is now owned by KLCC Holdings. A tower in the complex has 78 elevators and the total floor area of the structure is 395,000m². The height of the building is 452 meters, making it the 10th tallest building in the world.
9. Petronas Tower 1, Kuala Lumpur
Petronas Towers – Claiming the titles of 9th and 10th tallest buildings in the world
Petronas Towers are twin towers, so the information about Petronas Tower 2 is valid for Tower 1 as well. The structural engineer of the complex was Thornton Tomasetti, an American firm based in New York City. The towers costed $1,6 billion and the construction was completed in 4 years. An example of post-modern architecture, the top floor of the Petronas Towers has a height of 375 meters. The highest point of the tower, like its twin, is 452 meters, making it share the titles of 9th and 10th tallest buildings in the world.
8. International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong
International Commerce Center – The 8th tallest building in the world
Composed of commercial offices and a hotel, International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong is the 8th tallest building in the world with a height of 484 meters. The construction of the commerce centre started in 2002 and it was completed in 2010 by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (architecture) and Arup (structural engineering). One of the tallest buildings in the world, the structure has 108 + 4 floors and over 40 elevators. Managed by Kai Shing Management Services Limited today, International Commerce Centre is also home to The Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
7. Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai
Shanghai World Financial Center – The 7th Tallest Building In The World
Shanghai World Financial Center is a huge complex which includes offices, parking garages, retail stores, a hotel and a museum. The construction of the supertall skyscraper started in 1997 and the building was completed in 2008. The architecture of the financial center which is among the tallest buildings in the world was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and its engineering work was done by Leslie E. Robertson Associates. Taking up an area of 381,600m², the skyscaper with 91 elevators has a height of 492 meters, making the 7th tallest building in the world.
6. Taipei 101, Taipei
Taipei 101 – The 6th Tallest Building In The World
The tallest financial center in Taiwan, Taipei 101 is full of commercial offices and the structure, whose construction started in 1999, was completed in 2004. Taking up an area of 193,400m², the skyscraper has 101+5 floors and over 60 elevators including double-deck shuttles. The building was designed by C. Y. Lee & Partners and the engineering work was done by Thornton Tomasetti. Owned by Taipei Financial Center Corporation, the building costed almost $2 billion. Taipei 101 is the 6th tallest building in the world with a height of 509 meters.
5. CTF Finance Center, Guangzhou
CTF Finance Center – The 5th Tallest Building In The World
The fifth tallest building in the world is the CTF Finance Center located in Guangzhou, China, which is actually yet to be completed. Having adopted a modernist architecture, the building was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, Dennis Lau & Ng Chun, Man Architects & Engineers and the engineering work of the skyscraper is being carried out by Arup. Covering a land area of 398,000m², the building has 116+5 floors with over 80 elevators. The plan of the building suggests that it will include commercial offices, hotel rooms and residences. Having been topped out just recently, CTF Finance Center has a height of 530 meters, making it the 5th tallest building in the world.
4. One World Trade Center, New York
One World Trade Center – The 4th Tallest Building in The World
Having been opened in November 2014, One World Trade Center in New York, USA is the 4th tallest building in the world. Meant to be a center for offices, observation and communication, the building was designed by David Childs and Daniel Liebeskind. Covering an area of 325,279m², the huge skyscraper has 94+5 floors. The building has 73 elevators and it costed near $4 billion. Engineered by WSP Cantor Seinuk, the architectural style of the building complies with the standards of contemporary modernist movement. A height of 541.3 meters place the skyscraper among the top-5 tallest buildings in the world.
3. Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel
Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel – The 3rd Tallest Building in the World
Also known as Abraj Al Bait, Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel is both a residence and a hotel. The construction of the building started in 2004 and the skyscraper was complete in 2012. Both the architecture and engineering of the building was handled by Dar-al Handasah, a company based in Lebanon but serving practically all the world. Among the tallest buildings in the world, Abraj Al Bait has 120 floors, taking up a land area of 310,638m². The building has a direct view of Masjid Al-Haram, Makkah, Saudi Arabia, the holiest place in Islam, and it has a height of 601 meters, making it the 3rd tallest building in the world.
2. Shanghai Tower, Shanghai
Shanghai Tower – The 2nd Tallest Building in the World
The second tallest building in the world, like the 4th tallest, is topped out but yet to be completed. Having countless elements of green architecture such as techniques to reduce the use of structural material and wind turbines on top of the building, Shanghai Tower in China expects a few green certificates from the government of China. Designed by Gensler and engineered by Thornton Tomasetti, the building has 121 floors, taking up an area of 380,000m². Expected to be completed by 2015, Shanghai Tower is the second tallest building in the world with its height of 632 meters.
1. Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Burj Khalifa – The Tallest Building In The World
Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was designed by Adrian Smith (SOM) and engineered by Bill Baker (SOM) and the building was inaugurated in 2010. Having 163+2 floors, the building covers a floor area of 309,473m². As a matter of fact, the records held by Burj Khalifa is not limited to the tallest building in the world. The building also has the records of:
- The building with the most floors
- The highest elevators in the world
- The highest installation of an aluminum and glass facade
- The highest nightclub in the world
- The highest restaurant in the world
Also having these titles, Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, while also claiming the title ‘the tallest man-made structure ever built’.
Which building is the tallest in your country? Please comment!
1. “Lincoln Cathedral – History”. The Dean and Chapter of Lincoln Cathedral.
2. “CTBUH Criteria for Defining and Measuring Tall Buildings”. Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
The Tallest Buildings in the World
The Tallest Buildings in the World