Tallest Buildings in the World: Where One WTC Ranks


On Tuesday, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat gave New Yorkers another reason to have bragging rights and take pride in their city. It declared One World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

The battle for height supremacy is indeed a nuanced one, and depending upon the set of standards used to measure a structure's height, the order of any "world's tallest" list can change significantly. In some cases, the tallest may be decided based on the position of the entrance, based on the highest usable floor, or the height to the very tip of the structure. In deciding the official position of One World Trade Center, the CTBUH used the height as the criterion.

Upon the CTBUH's ruling that it's spire was an integral part of its architecture, One World Trade Center took the top spot in the U.S. from Chicago's Willis Tower, which took the title from the original Twin Towers upon its completion in 1973. Even though One World Trade Center is now officially the Western Hemisphere's tallest building (or will be once completed), it remains short in the context of global architecture. Let's have a look at the tallest buildings in the world, and see just where the soon-to-be One World Trade Center stacks up.  

1. Burj Khalifa

What more needs to be said than that Burj Khalifa in Dubai is number one? It is the tallest building in the world, completed in 2010, and stands at an incredible 2,717 feet. As the world's tallest building, it attracts many thrill-seekers and daredevils, leading to world record base jumps, among other things. Check it out:

2. Abraj Al-Bait Towers

Also known as the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel, the Abraj Al-Bait was completed in 2012, and is the second tallest building in the world and Saudi Arabia's tallest. Located in Mecca, the main tower stands at 1,972 feet and is unquestionably the most dominant feature of the city's landscape, forever altering the most sacred site in Islam.  But it sure did have an awesome opening party:

3. One World Trade Center

At a symbolic height of 1,776 feet, One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, as well as the third tallest in the world. Much argument over the tower's actual height focused on whether or not the spire, which allows the tower to reach 1,776 feet is actually a part of its architecture. The tower is scheduled for completion in 2014 after eight years of construction and 13 years of planning and development. 

4. Taipei 101

Completed in 2004, Taipei 101 is the tallest building in Asia, and until Tuesday, was the third tallest building in the world. Its design is intended to reflect traditional Asian culture and its modern and future expression. It stands at 1,667 feet, and is notable for its usage of a massive damper designed to counter the force of excessive winds, typhoons, and earthquakes. Here's a look at how the damper works:

5. Shanghai World Financial Center

The Shanghai World Financial Center, at 1,614 feet tall, is the tallest building in China. It was completed in 2008 after 11 years of construction, and is the second tallest building in Asia, and possibly the world's largest bottle opener. 

6. International Commerce Centre

The International Commerce Centre is 1,588 feet tall and is currently Hong Kong's tallest building. It was completed in 2010, is the third tallest building in Asia, and the second tallest in China. 

7. The Petronas Towers

These twin towers, located in Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur, are two of the most iconic buildings in the world. They were the tallest in the world from 1998 until 2004 when Taipei 101 was completed, and notably featured in the film Entrapment. Together they stand at 1,483 feet, are the fourth and fifth tallest buildings in Asia, and the tallest twin buildings in the world.

8. Zifeng Tower

Zifeng Tower, completed in 2010, is China's third tallest building, Nanjing's tallest, and the sixth tallest in Asia. It stands at 1,476 feet tall.

9. Willis Tower

Still known popularly as the Sears Tower, the ninth tallest building in the world has dominated Chicago's skyline since 1974. It stands at 1,451 feet tall, and impressively, is the only one of the top 10 tallest buildings globally to have been built more than 15 years ago. While Tuesday's decision marked the end of the Willis Tower's reign in North America, the tower will remain the tallest in the U.S. until One World Trade Center is officially completed. 

10. KK100

KK100, also known as the Kingkey Finance Tower, is located in Shenzen, China, and was completed in 2011. In addition to being the tenth tallest building in the world, it is also the seventh tallest in Asia, and the fourth tallest in China. It stands at 1,449 feet tall.