10 Most Famous Skyscrapers in the World

Architecture has long been one of the most complex forms of artistic expression among various cultures across the world. The planning and creation of massive structures requires a special degree of attention and intelligence that sets architecture apart from other forms of expression.

There is a unique measure of appreciation for the designing and development of skyscrapers in today’s architectural community.

In this article, we will explore 10 of the most famous skyscrapers in the world while also taking a closer look at the architects and designers that created them.

Famous Skyscrapers

1. Empire State Building

Empire State Building

For many decades, the Empire State Building was known as the tallest skyscraper in the world. It sits in the middle of Midtown Manhattan in New York City and is one of the most iconic symbols of the Big Apple.

It is also one of the older skyscrapers in the United States and is a major tourist attraction for anyone visiting New York City.

The Empire State Building was first designed by an architectural firm known as Shreve, Lamb and Harmon in the late 1920’s. The development of this massive building was carried out by famed architects John J. Raskob and Al Smith. Construction didn’t begin until 1930 and the Empire State Building opened a year later in 1931.

The skyscraper stands 102 stories and towers above much of the rest of the Manhattan skyline as a domineering structure. It remained the tallest structure in the world until 1970 when the World Trade Center buildings were built just a short distance away from the Empire State Building.

Today, it is considered to be a National Historic Landmark in the United States and offers 2,248,355 square feet of space.

2. Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa

There has always been an ongoing competition for famous architects to create the tallest structure in the world and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa building currently holds that title by a short margin.

This skyscraper is one that was recently constructed, but has quickly become a symbol of national pride for many people living in Dubai, as well as an iconic landmark that draws in numerous tourists to the desert city each year.

The Burj Khalifa is quite literally a towering structure that was first designed using a Y-shaped tripartite floor geometry concept by Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill architectural firm.

Smith is perhaps the most well known architectural designer in the world, having developed plans for Chicago’s Trump International Hotel and Tower and many other famous skyscrapers across the world’s most highly developed cities.

This building is a staggering 163 stories and towers above every other structure in Dubai by almost half the length of other skyscrapers.

Construction began in 2004 and the massive project was finished after 5 years of consistent labor and planning on behalf of a host of architects, engineers and workers.

3. Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building

Another one of New York City’s most famous historic skyscrapers is the Chrysler Building, which sits in the Turtle Bay neighborhood on the city’s East Side. This building is a stunning design that was crafted in the Art Deco style that was popularized during the early 20th century before World War I.

The Chrysler Building was designed by famous architect William Van Alen in 1927 and was intended to be one of the city’s most stunning works of architectural mastery.

Van Alen was a highly respected architect at the time, but his work on the Chrysler Building was what truly propelled him into fame among the world’s elite designers and engineers.

This building stands at 77 stories and is one of the more iconic structures in the Big Apple outside of the Empire State Building and the World Trade Centers before they were destroyed in an attack on September 11, 2001.

What makes the Chrysler Building unique when compared to many of the other more notable skyscrapers throughout the world is the attention-to-detail that was made in its design and construction.

4. Willis Tower

Willis Tower

Visitors to Chicago, Illinois are always encouraged to see one skyscraper above all others in what is known as the “Windy City.” This skyscraper is the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower.

It features a striking design and also has one of the more impressionable tourist draws in its upper stories known as the Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower.

This portion of the building offers visitors the opportunity to stand on thick, reinforced glass and take in much more of the Chicago skyline view than at any other location in the famous midwestern city.

The building was designed by Fazlur Rahman Khan and Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in 1970’s and construction began in the same year. The Willis Tower would take 4 years to be completed and the skyscraper, which was originally dedicated as the Sears Tower after the Sears, Roebuck and Company.

The Willis Tower stands at 108 stories tall and features 4,477,800 square feet of space. It’s distinct dark coloration and placement among the other buildings that are much lighter and smaller in color are some of the reasons why this building has become one of the most iconic of any city in the American Midwest.

5. Shanghai World Financial Center

Shanghai World Financial Center

The city of Shanghai, China has experienced exponential levels of growth in the past few decades and the Shanghai World Financial Center is a testament to the city’s explosive economy and population.

Shanghai is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world and many of its buildings have been completely remodeled or destroyed to make room for bigger and better skyscrapers in recent years.

The Shanghai World Financial Center was developed by the Mori Building Company, which is a famous Japanese architectural firm that’s known for its expertise in creating some of the world’s biggest skyscrapers.

It was built by architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox and construction began in 1997 with the building being finished 11 years later in 2008.

When the skyscraper was finally finished, it topped out at 1,614 feet, which made it the second-tallest building in the world at the time next to the Taipei 101. Since that time, there have been other buildings that have taken the title of the world’s tallest skyscraper.

6. One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 are among the most devastating in world history. After the harrowing events that brought down both towers, New York City officials worked with some of the world’s preeminent architects and design experts to construct a new skyscraper in its place that would come to be known as the One World Trade Center.

The One World Trade Center was initially designed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as well as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The main architect on the project was widely acclaimed expert, David Childs. Construction began the spring of 2006 and the skyscraper was finished in 2013.

The building stands at 94 stories, which is a bit shorter than the original World Trade Center towers, which each measured 110 stories. The building has been fitted with highly-advanced security and other technology to make it one of the safest skyscrapers in the world.

The One World Trade Center, along with the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building combine to form one of the most impressive skylines of any city in the world.

7. The Shard

The Shard

One of Europe’s most intriguing skyscrapers is located in London and is known among locals and others in England as “The Shard” due to its uncanny resemblance of a shard of glass jutting up out of the urban landscape. This building is relatively new and is formerly known as the London Bridge Tower.

The Shard is one of the most unique architectural designs of any skyscraper in the world and it was famous Italian designer Renzo Piano who is credited with developing the majestic structure. Construction began on the project in 2009 and it took just 3 years before the building was finished and opened.

Also Read: Famous Glass Buildings

The exterior of the building is almost completely lined with tempered glass, making it appear very much like a large shard of glass compared to the surrounding cityscape. This skyscraper is measured at a full 72-stories-tall and features 4,289,300 square feet of space.

Due to its distinct shape and design, The Shard has become one of the world’s most popular locations for urban exploration, BASE jumping (buildings, Antenna, spans and earth) and even adrenaline-junkies who are daring enough to climb the massive structure.

8. Shanghai Tower

Shanghai Tower

Our list would not be complete without mentioning the iconic Shanghai Tower. It is, by far, the tallest building in China and stands as the third-tallest building in the world behind the Burj Khalifa and the Merdeka 118, which is located in Kuala Lumpur.

The Shanghai Tower was designed by Marshall Strabala and Jun Xia of the global design and architectural firm known as Gensler. Construction began on the structure in 2008 and it took 6 years to complete as the building was completed in 2014 and opened a year later.

Also Read: Famous Towers

The skyscraper is famous for its vertical transportation system, which is an interconnected elevator system that is quite unlike any other in the world.

The Shanghai Tower stands at a staggering 128 stories and literally towers above much of the rest of the city’s skyline.

It features 4,090,300 square feet of interior space and is one of the most iconic symbols of the city of Shanghai that’s often featured on postcards and organization logos of businesses in the city.

9. Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab

Among the most distinct and impressive designs for skyscrapers across the world’s largest cities, the Burj Al Arab is widely considered to be one that is totally unlike any other.

This skyscraper is located in the booming oil-rich city of Dubai and its design makes it appear to look like the sail of a massive ship protruding up out of the ocean’s surface. However, the skyscraper actually stands on top of an artificial island that’s placed just off the coast in Dubai.

The Burj Al Arab is a relatively new building that was initially designed in the early 1990’s and construction began in 1994. It was designed by famous architectural master Tom Weight, a British designer who was then associated with WKK Architects.

This skyscraper is considered to be the epitome of luxury in the world’s richest city and some of the most well-known celebrities from around the world have stayed in its affluent and extremely expensive hotel accommodations.

The Burj Al Arab stands only at 56 stories, but its reputation for luxury and class are unmatched compared to the rest of the world’s famous skyscrapers.

10. 30 St. Mary Axe

30 St Mary Axe

London is famous for some of the most famous buildings, bridges and other architectural wonders in the world. It should not surprise anyone interested in unique skyscrapers that another one of the most unique buildings in the world is located in the heart of London itself.

Known as 30 St. Mary Axe, this structure has been affectionately named “The Gherkin” after its strange shape, which is unmistakably similar to the shape of a gherkin pickle.

In addition to the building’s shape, the material that covers the outside is also designed in one of the most aesthetically beautiful of any structure in London or any other city in Europe.

It was initially designed by Skanska, a Swedish architectural firm who also worked alongside Foster + Partners to complete construction on the project. It was opened in 2004, just a year after construction began and has since become an iconic symbol of the city of London.

30 St. Mary Axe stands at roughly 41 stories and hosts 516,100 square feet of space. 30 St. Mary Axe, or The Gherkin, is considered by many in the architectural community to be one of the most exquisite glass-faced skyscrapers in the world and is also known as the most popular modern landmark in the city of London

11. Bank of China Tower

12. Al Hamra Tower

13. John Hancock Center