25 of the Tallest Buildings in the World

Architecture is hitting ever greater heights, with vertiginous skyscrapers now a regular site in most modern cities.

The speed at which skyscrapers now dominate urban living is illustrated by how the Empire State Building was until 1972 the tallest in the world; the iconic building now does not even appear in the top 40.

Professor Tim Ibell, chair of the judges for the 2021 Structural Awards, believes money and technology are the catalysts for ultra-exclusive elevated living.

He told Newsweek: "One of the main reasons buildings have been becoming taller and taller is because the cost of land in an urban environment is prohibitively expensive, so developers need to maximize their return on investment by building as tall as possible.

"Further, technologies and materials allow for this these days."

Phineas Harper, architecture critic and Director of charity Open City agrees "population but profit" is "the real driver of the global skyscraper boom" but is confident these lofty spaces will play a positive part in the future of urban planning.

He told Newsweek: "The best towers embody more than an investor's bottom line. In the hands of great architects, towers can capture the generosity and vitality of their city, expressing values which transcend anodyne business models to capture the hearts of whole communities."

Read on to learn which are the world's tallest buildings used as living space, using information obtained from The Skyscraper Center.

25. 23 Marina (392.4m / 1,287 ft)

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Skyline of Dubai, with skyscrapers Burj Khalifa (828m), Princess Tower, 23 Marina, W Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai 1 + 2, Emirates Office Tower, The Torch, seen from departure of a Airbus A380 at Dubai International Airport on December 17, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates EyesWideOpen/Getty Images

The super-tall all-residential building designed by KEO International Consultants was reportedly 79 percent sold before construction even started.

The tower boasts 57 swimming pools, while every duplex in the tower is equipped with its own private elevator.

24. Guiyang International Financial Center T1 (401m / 1,316ft)

Guiyang International Financial Center
Guiyang International Financial Center Ryedamien/Wikimedia

Finished in 2020, the complex consists of two buildings with heights of 401m and 275m height.

These stunning twin towers designed by the South China University of Technology are serving as hotels and office space in the Chinese city financial district.

23. Guangxi China Resources Tower (402.7m / 1,321ft)

Nanning China Resources Center Towerhttps://t.co/I1UUWVvqSu pic.twitter.com/j6wZLXGujP

— HOOGBOUW-TALL BLDNGS (@hoogbouw) December 2, 2020
Nanning China Resources Tower

This skyscraper was originally slated to be more than 40m taller but these plans were cancelled mid-construction due to airspace restrictions.

The Goettsch Partners-designer building was completed only in 2020 and has a notably sleek and incisive silhouette.

22. LCT The Sharp Landmark Tower (411.6m / 1,350ft)

LCT The Sharp Landmark Tower
LCT The Sharp Landmark Tower 생각하는 나무 / Wikimedia

This super-tall structure completed in 2019 consists of a 101-floor landmark tower and a brace of 85-floor tall residential skyscrapers.

Korea's second tallest building includes a transparent glass walkway dubbed the "Shocking Bridge" offering visitors vertiginous views of Haeundae from directly above.

21. Princess Tower (413.4m / 1,356ft)

Princess Tower
A picture taken on May 21, 2012 shows Dubai's recently constructed Princess Tower (C) which has set a new record in the Guinness World Records as the world's tallest residential building. The tower which is located in Dubai Marina is 413.4 (1,356 feet) high and has 101 storeys above ground KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

Dubai's Princess Tower is second only to New York's 432 Park Avenue as the world's tallest residential building.

The skyscraper is perched in the waterfront district, offering an unparalleled view of the Persian Gulf for lucky residents.

20. Jin Mao Tower (420.5m / 1,380ft)

Jin Mao Tower
Atrium of the Grand Hyatt hotel, Pudong. This view taken from the 85th floor of the Jin Mao Building looks at the top section of this amazing tower which is owned by the Hyatt hotel group. Looking down, the bottom floor in this view shows the bar area on the 55th floor. This interior has become famous as one of Shanghai's tourist attractions, with many people paying to see the view from the viewing deck on the 87th floor. The symmetry and repetition of floors and balconies is breathtaking and visually overloading at the same time In Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty Images

Sitting in the center of Lujiazui, the Jinmao Tower offers hotel guests and office workers a sweeping view of the city on its 88th observation space.

One of the tower's highlights is a 31-story atrium, with corridors winding around it in a stunning spiral pattern.

19. Trump International Hotel & Tower (423.2m / 1,389ft)

Trump International Hotel & Tower
Workers install the final letter for a giant TRUMP sign on the outside of the Trump Tower on June 12, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Many in the city are opposed to the sign including Mayor Rahm Emanuel who has called it tacky and tasteless Scott Olson/Getty Images

The fourth-tallest building in the U.S. reportedly served as the inspiration for Dubai's Burj Khalifa.

The residential and hotel space features setbacks designed explicitly to fit in well with the heights of nearby structures.

18. Marina 101 (425m / 1,394ft)

Marina 101
Marina 101 is the second tallest building in the United Arab Emirates, behind only the Burj Khalifa KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

Marina 101 is the second tallest building in the United Arab Emirates, behind only the Burj Khalifa.

The skyscraper's art-deco flourishes distinguish it from the building's neighbours, while its facade has a variety of colors to deal with Dubai's ever-shifting light.

17. 432 Park Avenue (425.7m / 1,397ft)

432 Park Avenue
432 Park Avenue, the tallest residential tower in the western hemisphere photographed from Central Park in New York, New York on April 16, 2016 Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

This luxe all-residential New York skyscraper boasts 104 luxury condos spread across 88 floors, some of which are the city's most expensive.

Designed by Rafael Viñoly, residents of what was briefly the tallest residential building in the Western hemisphere can enjoy stunning views of Central Park.

16. Guangzhou IFC (438.6m / 1,439ft)

Trippy #Guangzhou #IFC pic.twitter.com/CyBOztGQSr

— Carl Cheng (@TheCarlitoWay) July 25, 2019
Guangzhou IFC

The architectures describe their building as a "landmark building in South China, the window for Guangzhou to radiate South China and Asia-Pacific and connect the world."

Its eye-catching exoskeleton, completed in 2010, reveals a diagrid structural system, where steel support beams crisscross diagonally, creating aesthetically pleasing diamond shapes.

15. KK100 (441.8m / 1,449ft)

A man (bottom C) standing on a footbridge in the Sheung Shui area of Hong Kong, near the Chinese border, with a view of Shenzhen's second tallest skyscraper, KK100, (top C) in the background Anthony WALLACE / AFP/Getty Images

Looming over the sprawling Chinese city of Shenzhen, the KK100 was at the time of its completion the tallest skyscraper ever designed by a British architect.

The building's distinctive, transparent, glass shard-like top portion hosts a restaurant and shopping mall.

14. Willis Tower (442.1m / 1,451ft)

Willis Tower
The Chicago skyline featuring the Sears Tower is seen from a helicopter 06 July 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images

Dominating the heart of downtown Chicago, this tall building has recently faced criticism for its slightly dated blocky design.

The 110-story building was completed in 1972 and its skyjack offers unparalleled views of the Windy City.

13. Wuhan Center Tower (443.1m / 1,454ft)

Wuhan Center Tower
Wuhan Center Tower Baycrest/Wikimedia

Inspired by a sailing vessel, the Wuhan Center Tower stands beside the Mengze Lake and along the Chinese city's Yangzhi River.

The tower, completed only in 2019, is divided into five vertical sections, integrating retail, office, residential spaces and a hotel.

12. Zifeng Tower (450m / 1,476ft)

Greenland Square Zifeng Tower pic.twitter.com/hbbWNvxKmG

— liu xuewei (@tinyfluffycat) August 5, 2013
Zifeng Tower

This skyscraper was designed by those responsible for the Burj Khalifa, and the resemblances are almost uncanny.

One detail that delights students of architecture is how the cutaway look is designed to mimic a dragon wrapping around the super-tall structure.

11. Suzhou IFS (450m / 1,476ft)

Suzhou International Financial Square
Suzhou International Financial Square Milkomède / Wikimedia

Suzhou International Financial Square is a super-tall skyscraper designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates.

The multi-purpose building, which includes apartments, hotels and offices has a fish-inspired design, a symbol of prosperity considered appropriate for the Chinese city's tallest landmark.

10. Changsha IFS Tower T1 (452.1m / 1,483ft)

Changsha IFS Towers
Changsha IFS Towers Yinsanhen /Wikimedia

This twin-tower development blending office space and hotels is located in Harbour City, a hyper-connected retail development in Hong Kong.

The development is a pair of skyscrapers, with the taller one featuring incremental setbacks near its apex to match the shorter second tower without dwarfing it.

9. Vincom Landmark 81 (461.2m / 1,513ft)

Vincom Landmark 81
Vincom Landmark 81 Joefrance1995/Wikipedia

Named after its 81 floors, the Vincom Landmark is found elegantly perched on the Saigon River's banks.

The tall building's stair-stepping aesthetic is one of the structure's most eye-catching elements.

8. Central Park Tower (472.4m / 1,550ft)

Central Park Tower
The 90 story luxury tower Central Park Tower, center, on West 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan in New York is seen casting a shadow over Central Park on Saturday, December 28, 2013 Richard Levine/Corbis/Getty Images

Located along New York's aptly named Billionaires' Row, Central Park Tower is the world's tallest dedicated residential building, home to condo units costing upwards of $7 million.

The exclusive $3 billion project boasts almost unparalleled views of the iconic city park after which it is named.

7. International Commerce Center (484m / 1,588ft)

International Commerce Center
Yachts are seen past the ICC (International Commerce Centre) building in the waters of Victoria Harbour as they participate in the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's annual Around The Island Race in Hong Kong on November 27, 2016 AFP / TENGKU Bahar/Getty Images

Completed in 2010, this mixed-use office and hotels stand a little distance from the rest of Hong Kong's concentration of skyscrapers.

The designers reportedly initially wanted the ICC to be the world's tallest building but were prevented over concerns the skyscraper would block views of the nearby mountains.

6. Shanghai World Financial Center (492m / 1,614ft)

Shanghai World Financial Center
A computer-enhanced photograph shows a revised design for a Shanghai World Financial Centre (L) designed by Forest Overseas Co Imaginechina/Getty Images

This super-tall skyscraper located in the Pudong district of Shanghai is perhaps best known for its distinctive "bottle-opener" space near its apex.

Architects reportedly scrapped original plans for a round hole, after Chinese complaints it would resemble Japan's "rising sun" flag.

5. Tianjin CTF Finance Centre (530m / 1,739ft)

Tianjin CTF Finance Centre
Tianjin CTF Finance Centre BD2412 / Wikimedia

This building, which towers precipitously over its environment, features a curved glass aesthetic accomplished via eight huge strategically placed columns.

These not only provide the Tianjin building with its elegant look but have also been engineered to keep the structure standing in the event of an earthquake strike.

4. Lotte World Tower (554.5m / 1,819ft)

Lotte World Tower
The general view of Lotte World Tower on July 7, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The 123 floors of the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates-designed Lotte World Tower became Korea's first 100-story building, upon completion in 2017.

The steel skyscraper curves in a concave manner as it soars, while the use of glass is an apparent homage to the Korean ceramic history.

3. Makkah Royal Clock Tower (601m / 1,972ft)

Makkah Royal Clock Tower
This picture taken on May 24, 2020 during the early hours of Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday which starts at the conclusion of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, shows an aerial view of Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca, with the Abraj al-Bait Mecca Royal Clock Tower overlooking the Grand Mosque and Kaaba in the centre AFP/Getty Images

The Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel was built in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to offer luxurious accommodation for wealthy pilgrims making the Hajj.

The central hotel tower, standing 120 stories tall, the Makkah Clock Royal Tower, bears the world's largest clock face.

2. Shanghai Tower (632m / 2,073ft)

Boats travel on the Huangpu River as the skyline of the city is is seen, including the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the Shanghai Tower, on August 28, 2020 in Shanghai, China. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Its 128 floors spearing into the sky over Shanghai make this iconic tower the second tallest in the world.

The curved exterior of this hotel and office space offers a breathtaking aesthetic when looked at with its two nearest neighbours, while this design also reduces wind loads.

1. Burj Khalifa (828m / 2,717ft)

Burj Khalifa
A general view of Burj Khalifa on November 9, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates Tom/Getty Images

Completed in 2010, the world's tallest building boasts an advanced tripedal design, along with the projecting shapes of its edges to cut through the wind to slash turbulence and improve stability.

These and other cutting-edge techniques allow the Dubai building to soars more than 700 feet above its nearest competitor.