Why do people keep building huge skyscrapers, trying to touch the sky? That question doesn’t have one single answer, but the pursuit of that goal has led to the construction of mega tall buildings, seemingly competing with each other for style, beauty, and with it a lot of national and local-patriotic pride. Among the top 30 tallest buildings in the world, only 4 are in the Western hemisphere, all in the United States. 15 of them are in China.
30. Capital Market Authority Headquarters, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: The tallest building in the Saudi capital, the CMAH building stands 385 meters / 1263 feet tall, with 77 floors. Construction on it was completed in 2016, taking 6 years to build.
29. CITIC Plaza, Guangzhou, China: This building stands 391 meters / 1283 feet tall, and includes 80 levels. Completed in 1997, it was one of the oldest on this list. It is the 3rd tallest building in the city.
28. China Resources Headquarters, Shenzhen, China: Also known as Spring Bamboo, this building rises to 393 meters / 1288 feet, and was completed this year, making it the third tallest building in the city.
27. 23 Marina, Dubai, UAE: An all-residential building, it is 395 meters / 1296 feet tall, going up 89 floors. The building has 57 swimming pools, and each duplex in the tower has its own private elevator. It was completed in 2012.
26. Two International Finance Centre, Hong Kong, China: The IFC has two skyscrapers, including Tower 2, which is the second tallest building in Hong Kong. It rises to 412 meters or 1352 feet, and was completed in 2003. The building is 88 levels high, but has omitted the 14th and 24th floors as being inauspicious.
25. Al Hamra Tower, Kuwait City, Kuwait: The tallest building in Kuwait, the tower rises to 413 meters, or 1354 feet, and was completed in 2011 after 6 years and $500 million pouring into it. It was included in TIME magazine’s best inventions of 2011.
24. Princess Tower, Dubai, UAE: The second tallest residential-only building in the world, and the third tallest building in Dubai. The Princess Tower opened in 2012, taking 6 years to complete, rising 100 levels above ground into the air. It is 414 meters, or 1358 feet tall.
23. Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai, China: The building of Golden Prosperity, it stands 421 meters or 1380 feet into the air, and includes 121 floors. Completed in 1999, it was the tallest building in China until 2007. It cost $530 million to build.
22. Trump International Hotel and Tower, Chicago, USA: The building named after the current President of the United States (he wasn’t at the time) rises 423.2 meters into the air, which is 1388 feet, and is the 2nd tallest building in the city. It opened in 2009, and cost $847 million to complete.
21. 432 Park Avenue, New York, USA: The 2nd tallest building in New York, it rises to 425.5 meters, or 1396 feet. Completed in 2015, it cost $1.25 billion to construct. It has 85 floors, and an additional 3 underground.
20. Marina 101, Dubai, UAE: The 2nd tallest building in Dubai, Marina 101 opened in late 2016, taking 9 years to complete. It stands 427 meters, or 1399 feet tall, and included 101 floors. The building was designed by National Engineering Bureau.
19. Wuhan Center, Wuhan, China: The Wuhan Center has been topped out, yet it is not completed. It stands 438 meters, which are 1438 feet, and should be completed in 2017. It is the tallest building in the city, and the tallest in Central China.
18. Guangzhou International Finance Center, Guangzhou, China: Also known as the Guangzhou West tower, it has 103 floors, rising to 440 meters or 1440 feet in the air. It was completed in 2010, and floors 69 to 98 are a Four Seasons hotel.
17. KK100, Shenzhen, China: The third name of this building, the KK100 was completed in 2011, and stands 442 meters or 1449 feet tall, as well as having 100 floors. With a height-width ratio of 9.5:1, it is one of China’s slimmest buildings.
16. Willis Tower, Chicago, USA: Mostly known as Sears Tower, it is currently named after the Willis Group. Completed in 1974, it is the tallest building in the city and was the tallest in the world for 25 years. It rises 442.1 meters or 1450 feet in the air, and has 108 floors.
15. Suzhou IFS, Suzhou, China: The International Financial Square in Suzhou has been in construction since 2010, and should be completed by the end of this year. It rises 450 meters or 1476 feet in the air, and has 92 floors.
14. Zifeng Tower, Nanjing, China: “Only” 89 floors in a 450 meters (1480 feet) building, the tallest in the city. It was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, with Adrian Smith at the head of the project. It opened in 2010.
12-13. The Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: For a time (between 1998 when they were completed and up to 2004) these were the tallest building in the world. Both rise up to 451.9 meters or 1483 feet. A landmark in both Malaysia and Asia, they have been featured in many films over the years.
11. Changsha IFS Tower T1, Changsha, China: Another building set to be complete in 2017, although construction began in 2013, so it’s hard to tell if it’ll happen by projections. It stands 452.1 meters tall, or 1484 feet.
10. International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong, China: The tallest building in Hong Kong, the ICC, completed in 2010, rises 484 meters or 1588 feet in the air, and has 118 floors. A commercial building, it includes a Ritz-Carlton hotel.
9. Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai, China: The SWFC is the second tallest building in Shanghai, standing complete since 2008. With 101 floors, it goes up 492 meters or 1614 feet in the air. In 2008 it was named by architects as the world’s best completed skyscraper.
8. Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan: TAIPEI 101 is the tallest building in Taiwan, and was the tallest in the world from 2004 until 2009. Costing close to $2 billion to construct, it stands 508 meters, or 1667 feet tall, and consists of 101 floors.
7. CTF Finance Centre, Guangzhou, China: The tallest building in Guangzhou and one of three from the city on this list, it opened in October 2016. It rises 530 meters in the air, or 1739 feet. Its elevator can travel as fast as 44.7 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest in the world.
6. One World Trade Center, New York, USA: The main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center, it is the tallest in the USA and the entire Western hemisphere. Completed in the summer of 2013, it stands 541.3 meters or 1776 feet tall, and consists of 104 floors.
5. Lotte World Tower, Seoul, South Korea: The only appearance on this list by a building in South Korea, Lotte World Tower was completed in December 2016 after over 5 years of construction. It rises 554.5 meters into the air, or 1819 feet for those who prefer. It is the tallest building in the OECD.
4. Ping An Finance Centre, Shenzhen, China: The tallest building in Shenzhen, the Ping An IFC was completed in late 2016. It rises 599 meters in the air, or 1965 feet, and includes 115 floors. It is named after Ping An insurance.
3. Abraj Al Bait Clock Tower, Mecca, Saudi Arabia: Part of the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project, the clock tower stands above the other 6 skyscrapers. It was completed in 2012, and stands 601 meters tall (1971 feet). It construction stirred some controversy due to the destruction of a historic Ottoman fortress.
2. Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China: The tallest building in China, the Shanghai Tower was completed in 2010, and includes the world’s tallest observation deck and the world’s fastest elevators. It rises to 632 meters, or 2073 feet in the air.
1. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE: The tallest building in the world since 2009 (it was completed in 2010), it was also designed by Adrian Smith. It was named after the president of the UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. It rises 828 meters or 2717 feet in the air. Its construction was marred by human right violations, which resulted in a number of strikes and riots by the workers, most of them from East and South Asia.