20 Tallest Buildings in the World Today

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Why do towering structures excite us so much? Are we driven by the assuredness that we can ascend as high as our desires? Or is it our optimism that confirms in our hearts that the higher we go, things can only get better? Regardless of what it could be, it's evident that this passion has gripped us intensely, as we witness the ceaseless construction of skyscrapers day after day.

What's On This Page?

Why are tall buildings important?

But let's take a look at the practical side of things. Aside from representing our ambition, transcendence, and dominance, why are tall buildings important? In 1994, the world population was at about 5.5 billion. Today, 26 years later, the population lies at approximately 8 billion people. That equates to annual growth of about 100 million people, imagine that.

So, given that we all need shelter in one form or another, and the width of the earth is definitely not expanding as our population grows, the only place to go is up. Therefore, tall buildings are also built out of necessity. They give us a chance to control urban sprawl with a relatively small footprint.

20 tallest buildings in the world

In this article, we’re going to be looking at the 20 tallest buildings in the world that fascinate us so much. Please note that this list is as of August 2020.

Let's feast our eyes.

1. Burj Khalifa - Dubai, United Arab Emirates by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)

Of course, we're kicking off this list of the tallest buildings in the world with Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world! Located in non-other than the United Arab Emirates (I mean, can we expect any less?), this 828m (2,717 ft) tall building is truly a sight to behold!

Burj Khalifa

The thought of being on its topmost floor (the 163rd floor) gives you chills just thinking about it. Imagine the view up there. Doesn't it feel like it's a universe on its own? Well, given that Burj Khalifa in Dubai functions as a hotel, a residential building, and an office building, you might get the chance to experience this new world. Let us know what it's like in the comments below when you do; we're eager to find out.

2. Shanghai Tower - Shanghai by Gensler

At an impressive height of 632m (2,073ft), this skyscraper takes the title of being the tallest twisted building in the world. Once completed in 2014, the Shanghai Tower took its place among the Jin Mao Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center to complete the trio of towers. This architectural marvel is the centerpiece of the city's Lujiazui commercial district.

Shanghai Tower

Almost giving the Burj Khalifa a run for its money for the world's tallest building, the Shanghai Tower is organized as nine cylindrical buildings stacked one after the next. This phenomenal design is what gives this tower its peculiar curving appearance. To be more specific, the 120 degrees rotation through which its exterior facade rotates as it rises is what gives it it's twisting nature.

3. Makkah Royal Clock Tower - Mecca, Saudi Arabia by Dar al-Handasah Shair & Partners + SL Rasch

Functioning as a mixed-use development with 120 floors, this world's tallest building takes the prize as the tallest building in the world with a clock face. Located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, it was completed in 2012 and stands tall at an impressive height of 601m (1,972 ft).

You'll be fascinated to learn that the clock tower contains a museum that occupies the top floor flours. Each of the four floors of the Clock Tower Museum represents a special topic.

Makkah Royal Clock Tower

The 1st floor shows the Makkah Tower and it's design and construction process. The 2nd floor focuses on time measurements that were used in ancient times. The 3rd-floor exhibits and explains how the earth, sun, and moon were used by our ancestors to organize their life and activities. Finally, the 4th floor depicts specifics of space and the planets in it.

4. Ping An Finance Center - Shenzhen by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)

Completed in 2017, this 4th tallest building in the world has 115 floors and functions as an office building. At a height of 599m (1,965 ft), the Ping An Finance Center anchors the city's new Central Business District. This skyscraper sits at the intersection of Yi Tian Road and Fu Hua Road in the Futian District.

Ping An Finance Center

You will not miss the impressive sight of the PAFC puncturing the sky with its great spire. This experience is likely to remind you of other iconic spired towers like the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building.

5. Lotte World Tower - Seoul, South Korea by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)

Apart from being one of the tallest buildings in the world at a stunning height of 554.5m (1,819ft), the Lotte World Tower is also South Korea's architectural crown jewels. Just by looking at it you can see and feel the power and culture represented by the 123 floors that make up this skyscraper.

Lotte World Tower

This tower is a symbol of the collaborative meeting of three aspects: cutting edge technology, nature, and traditions. As well as being a modern monument for South Korea and the world, this building also contains everything necessary for modern urban living.

6. One World Trade Center - New York City, United States by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)

Proudly piercing the sky at an impressive height of 541.3m (1,776ft), this iconic New York City landmark functions as office space for many remarkable businesses. Completed in 2014, the One World Trade Center continues to stand tall and shine as a beacon for the new Downtown in New York City.

One World Trade Center

With growth and development in mind, the One World Trade Center was designed to seamlessly integrate the traffic of office tenants and visitors. Borrowing a leaf from the original Twin Towers, this New York City structure's cubic base footprint is the same as the towers'.

7. Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre - Guangzhou, China by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)

Taking its place as one of the marvelous skyscrapers in the world, the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre is part of the Guangzhou Twin Towers. At 530 m (1,739 ft), this building is used as a hotel, and for residential and office purposes.

Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre

The metalwork has made this building an architectural icon of sustainability, center-city, and high-density architecture. Its facade is made of glass and corrosion-resistant and self-cleaning glazed terra cotta.

8. Tianjin CTF Finance Centre - Tianjin, China by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)

Taking its place as one of the world's most marvelous skyscrapers, this 530m (1,740ft) tall building with 97 floors is a sight to behold. With its majestic and confident position in the city's skyline, this building functions as a hotel, an office building, and contains luxuriously serviced apartments.

Tianjin CTF Finance Centre

Also, the detailed design and its intricate building facade have contributed to the idea that this majestic architectural structure is the icon of the district.

9. CITIC Tower - Beijing, China by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (Design Architect) + TFP Farrells (Land Bid Concept)

Yet another skyscraper in Asia, this 527.7m (1,731ft) tall work of art is home to many businesses as it functions as an office building. Located at the core of Beijing's 30-hectare central business district, it is no wonder that the main function of this icon of the capital is hosting offices.


The "zun" inspired the design of the building. This is a ritual vessel that originated in Bronze Age China.

10. TAIPEI 101 - Taipei, China by C.Y. Lee & Partners Architects/Planners

Standing tall since its completion in 2004, this impressive building has 101 floors all of which have impressive functionalities. Functioning mostly as offices, the Taipei 101 held the title of world's tallest green building until 2011. Designed to look like a gigantic bamboo stalk, you cannot fail to be awed at the way it towers above the city.


If you like adventure, you can go up to the 89th floor where there's an observation deck; the view looks quite promising. Although this skyscraper is 508m (1,667ft) tall, thanks to the pressure-controlled lift that goes at 1010m per minute, it will take you a mere 40 seconds to get to the 89th floor from the ground floor. How cool is that?

11. Shanghai World Financial Center - Shanghai, China by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) + Mori Building + Irie Miyake Architects and Engineers

When you think of SWFC, you think of efficiency. This 492m (1,614ft) tall skyscraper with 101 floors is consciously designed to make the most efficient use of energy and other natural resources. Also, advanced technologies are deployed to ensure that a comfortable and safe office environment is provided.

Shanghai World Financial Center

The use of multi-layered glass in the curtain wall enhances the building's HVAC effectiveness. Also, the carefully zoned air-conditioning system minimizes energy consumption in the building ensuring no energy is wasted.

12. International Commerce Centre - Hong Kong, China by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)

If you're going through this article and wondering which building you should visit first, you may like this 108 floored skyscraper at a height of 484m (1,588ft). Completed in 2010, this world-famous building is a tourist highlight in Hong Kong.

International Commerce Centre

Not only does it have one of the most deluxe Hong Kong malls, but it also has the highest observatory. So, if you want to experience what it's like to view the world while hundreds of meters up in the air, start planning your next trip to Hong Kong.

13. Lakhta Center - St. Petersburg, Russia by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)

Taking its place among the world's tallest buildings, this structure that stands at a height of 462m (1,516ft) is located 12km from the city center on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. It's striking 'barbed' architectural design and sleek facade provides it a unique position on St Petersburg’s landscape.

Lakhta Center

The organic spire shape symbolizes the power of the water. Also, the special glass facade makes the tower change color depending on the sun's lighting and position.

14. Vincom Landmark 81 - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam by Atkins

Vincom Landmark 81

Completed in 2018 and at a height of 461.2m (1,513ft), this skyscraper is a popular tourist attraction in Ho Chi Minh City. Like the International Commerce Centre, this icon has an observation deck on the top of its 81 floors on which you can take in the view of the city.

15. Changsha IFS Tower T1 - Changsha, China by Wong Tung & Partners

Changsha IFS Tower T1

Proudly standing at a height of 452.1m (1,483ft), this architectural sensation on this tallest buildings list has 94 floors. It mainly functions as a hotel and an office building. Since its completion in 2018, it remains the tallest building in Changsha and the 11th tallest structure in Asia.

16. Petronas Twin Tower 1 & Petronas Twin Tower 2- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Cesar Pelli & Associates

Petronas Twin Tower 1 & Petronas Twin Tower 2

The design of these towers conserves energy through attention to climate and location. Completed in 1998, both towers have a height of 451.9m (1,489ft) and have 88 floors. You will surely be awed by the presence that these two buildings command.

17. Suzhou IFS - Suzhou, China by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF)

Completed in 2019, this building serves as a hotel, office, and luxuriously services apartments. Proudly standing at a height of 450m (1,476ft), this gorgeous skyscraper is a clear testament to Suzhou’s culture, history, and identity. The design is inspired by a fish which a symbol of prosperity making it all the more suitable as the city's tallest landmark.

Suzhou IFS

It is no surprise that this modern and technological phenomenon is located in Suzhou, one of the world's fastest-growing cities, and a long-standing center of trade in China. A modern marvel indeed.

18. Zifeng Tower - Nanjing, China by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)

Rising to a height of 450m (1,476ft), this Chinese skyscraper has a unique architectural design that sets it apart from its neighboring siblings. This 66 floored building won an award for its intricate design that accentuates the beauty of both modern and ancient architecture.

Zifeng Tower

Seamlessly merging these two architectural languages quite beautifully is just part of its appeal. You will be fascinated to watch as this work of wonder changes its appearance depending on the lighting and time of day.

19. The Exchange 106 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Mulia Group

With 95 floors and a majestic height of 445.1m (1,460ft), Kuala Lumpur functions as an office to many fortunate businesses. Its architectural design makes this building an embodiment of elegant sophistication that speaks to the nation's ambitions.

The Exchange 106

Completed in 2019 and now confidently reaching for the sky, this single tower is a beacon that can be seen for miles signaling the rise of the Malaysian empire.

20. Willis Tower - Chicago, United States by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) 

Completed in 1974, this 108 floored skyscraper held the title of world's tallest building for nearly 25 years before being replaced by the buildings above. Formerly known as the Sears Tower, it is perfectly located in Chicago, a city that loves its architecture.

Willis Tower

Although it is last on our list today, it still takes holds the prize of having one of the greatest and innovative structural designs. With its black aluminum and bronze-tinted glass exterior, this 442.1m (1,451 ft) tall building will always leave a mark on the Chicago skyline.


Have you enjoyed reading about the 20 tallest buildings in the world? We sure hope you have.

Let us know which one you like best and intend on visiting soon.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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