Where Are the World’s Tallest Buildings?

Right now in Guangzhou, China, workers are constructing the CTF Finance Centre, which is already considered in the top five tallest buildings in the world. It is due to open in 2016 as a shopping mall, offices, residences, hotel, and, observation deck. China is home to one-third of the 100 tallest buildings in the world, all of which are plotted in the map below. You can see the “hot” regions due to BatchGeo’s clustering feature. In addition to rank, you can explore the buildings by height in feet, meters, and number of floors. Further, you can check out the years they were built, though as you’ll see later, that’s a young building’s game.

View Tallest Buildings in the World in a full screen map

Second to China for the share of the world’s tallest buildings is the United Arab Emirates. Most of those buildings, the first of which was built in just 1999, are in the luxurious, ultramodern Dubai. That city is also home to the very tallest building in the world, the Khalifa Tower, which opened in 2010. Five others of the top 100 are in UAE’s capital of Abu Dhabi.

Tallest Buildings

Third on the list is the United States, which was previously a tall building superpower. From 1930 until 1998, a building in the US held the distinction as tallest in the world. First the Chrysler Building in New York City, though it was surpassed the next year by the Empire State Building. The Sears Tower, now Willis Tower, in Chicago took the crown in 1974.

For a brief time in 1973, the original World Trade Center buildings in New York were the tallest. If they still stood, they would both make the top 20, despite the many buildings that have been built in recent years. One World Trade Center, built at the site of the former buildings, is now the tallest in the United States, fourth in the world. It was completed in 2014.

Building ever-taller structures relies on advancements in industrial technologies. That any buildings from the 1930s still make the top 100 list is a feat itself, let alone that the Empire State Building is still #14. As you can see from the interactive chart above, this list favors buildings constructed in recent years.

And that’s a pretty conservative definition of recent. There are over four years left in the current decade and already two-thirds of the world’s tallest buildings were built during that timeframe. Another 20 were built in the 2000s. In fact, only nine of the tallest buildings were built before 1990.