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Skyscrapers.  Call them crass expressions of plutocratic domination; call them environmentally inefficient, pointless wastes of money; call them patriarchal phallic symbols - negative people will always find a reason to dismiss or condemn anything that provokes the human imagination.  But I just call them awesome and inspiring: Immediate, overwhelming evidence of what human ingenuity is capable of achieving.  There are no plainer and more enduring monuments to our aspirations than skyscrapers - the physical embodiments of a yearning to reach ever higher, see ever farther, and make heaven and Earth one.

Unless you are a skyscraper enthusiast like myself, you probably are not familiar with many of them, and especially not those outside the United States - which now comprise the bulk of the tallest.  As a matter of national pride, I hope some day that we will reclaim the title, but there are no projects currently in development that would do that (though we're still in the top 10, for now).  I must, therefore, be satisfied that humanity as a whole continues to aspire upward, as it is an indicator of our initiative and adventurousness as a species.  

Now, there are legitimate questions about the efficiency of skyscrapers with respect to a larger number of shorter buildings, but that is neither here nor there: I am not suggesting the skyscraper as a general solution to civil engineering.  It isn't, and never will be financially or environmentally superior to create buildings 30 or 40 times taller than the average building height in a city.  

Organic growth would be to either sprawl into exurbs or, if there are limits on outward development, create new buildings that are a third or half again as high, resulting in slow upward movement with few standout buildings.  But that isn't inspiring: That's living in urban warrens like ants or moles.  City-living has its rewards, when done right - the sense of community, walkable distances, lots of dining and entertainment options, etc. - but without skyscrapers, inspirational views aren't among them.  And really a skyscraper is about more than the people who live in that city - it speaks to people throughout a nation, and even around the world.  It speaks to humanity as a whole, and says "People built this.  We can do things like this.  You are more than you think."

So, without further ado, I would like to run down (not literally, of course) the tallest buildings in the world.  These are only the completed ones - there are dozens of others in the same class under construction, mostly in China and Dubai.  As height ranking depends on whether you use the rooftop or the spire as the standard, and this choice changes some rankings, I will use the spire standard.

  1.  

Burj Khalifa (originally Burj Dubai)
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Completed: 2009
Height: 2,717 ft
Floors: 162

burj-khalifa-world-tallest

Burj_Khalifa_building

burj-khalifa2

burj-khalifa

burj_khalifa_01

Burj_Dubai_001

---

  1.  

Tapei 101
Location: Tapei, Taiwan
Completed: 2004
Height: 1,671 ft
Floors: 101

Tapei101a

Tapei101b

Tapei101c

Tapei101f

Tapei101d

Tapei101e

---

  1.  

Shanghai World Financial Center
Location: Shanghai, China
Completed: 2008
Height: 1,622 ft
Floors: 101

ShanghaiWorldFinCenter1

ShanghaiWorldFinCenter4

ShanghaiWorldFinCenter5

ShanghaiWorldFinCenter3

---

4.

International Commerce Centre
Location: Hong Kong, China
Completed: 2010
Height: 1,588 ft
Floors: 108

ICC1

ICC3

ICC4

ICC5

ICC6

---

  1.  

Petronas Towers
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Completed: 1998
Height: 1,483 ft
Floors: 88

PT6

PT5

PT1

PT2

PT3

PT4

---

  1.  

Nanjing Greenland Financial Center
Location: Nanjing, China
Completed: 2010
Height: 1,480 ft
Floors: 89

NanjingGreenlandFinCenter1

NanjingGreenlandFinCenter2

NanjingGreenlandFinCenter5

NanjingGreenlandFinCenter4

---

  1.  

Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)
Location: Chicago, USA
Completed: 1973
Height: 1,730 ft
Floors: 108

WillisTower5

WillisTower2

WillisTower1

WillisTower4

WillisTower3

WillisTower7

WillisTower6

---

  1.  

Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago
Location: Chicago, USA
Completed: 2009
Height: 1,389 ft
Floors: 92

Trump7

Trump8

Trump2

Trump1

Trump3

Trump5

Trump4

Trump6

---

  1.  

Jin Mao Tower
Location: Shanghai, China
Completed: 1998
Height: 1,380 ft
Floors: 93

JinMao1

JinMao3

JinMao4

JinMao6

JinMao2

JinMao8

JinMao7

---

10.

2 International Finance Centre
Location: Hong Kong, China
Completed: 2003
Height: 1,364 ft
Floors: 90
Note: An action scene in The Dark Knight involved this building.  Batman flies off the roof.

IFC10

IFC1

IFC5

Architecture IFC

IFC2

IFC8

Originally posted to Troubadour on Thu May 06, 2010 at 07:15 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I go here: (4+ / 0-)

    http://skyscraperpage.com/

    all the time for great diagrams, photos, and discussions.

    "only the shadows ahead barely clearing the roof"

    by anodnhajo on Thu May 06, 2010 at 07:20:53 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, I go there too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      linkage, anodnhajo

      It can get kind of depressing though, because the threads there follow projects from conception to completion, and most of them are never realized.  There are also a lot of design snobs with no actual taste.

      Q: A wrench, a screw driver, and a Republican walk into a bar. Who gets served first? A: The tool.

      by Troubadour on Thu May 06, 2010 at 07:27:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Then there's always skyscrapercity.com (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, anodnhajo

        I actually prefer skyscrapercity for international threads, since that's where the action is these days.  Check out the Moscow or Panama City threads.  Skyscraperpage is more domestic oriented and just about everything of note in the States is "on-hold" these days; lots of proposals, but no one breaking ground due to lack of financing or demand.

  •  you forgot the The Crimson Permanent Assurance (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nilocjin, Troubadour, anodnhajo

  •  I didn't know Taipei 101 was still.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, anodnhajo
    #2.

    I was there in the last 2 years and had a good time; they bragged about having the world's fastest elevator at the time and the view was pretty good.

    The Republicans are coming...

    by dclawyer06 on Thu May 06, 2010 at 07:25:58 PM PDT

  •  Petronas towers (4+ / 0-)

    I can't find the pics, but my last night in KL in late summer 2004 I had a view of the towers out my window.  I sat on the window and watched them in the night.  They are terribly beautiful.

  •  The Sears Tower will always be the Sears Tower (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    begone, Troubadour, yawnimawke, anodnhajo

    for me!!!

    I'd have such a horrible time in those buildings above 15th floor.  You'd never get me to go to a floor to ceiling window in one of those either!!!  I had a difficult enough of a time going to the railing of the copula of St Paul's Cathedral in London.

    I think some of these buildings are aesthetically pleasing.  But, some of them just look whimsical!!

  •  Thanks from (4+ / 0-)

    a fellow skyscraper enthusiast.

    But I'm not sure I agree with:

    There are no plainer and more enduring monuments to our aspirations than skyscrapers

    They're made of steel and glass, and can be brought down too easily, as we've learned the hard way. For "permanence", see the pyramids.

    Harry Reid: Float like Barney Fife, sting like Aunt Bea.

    by MeMeMeMeMe on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:09:58 PM PDT

    •  And BTW (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, anodnhajo

      the International Finance Centre is the one that looks most like a giant phallus. Not that I noticed.

      Harry Reid: Float like Barney Fife, sting like Aunt Bea.

      by MeMeMeMeMe on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:13:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Easily" is a bit of an exaggeration. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SLKRR, Lefty Mama, Eric Nelson

      They hijacked and crashed 747s into them.  It was a harebrained plan and they got extremely lucky.  The Pyramid of Khufu wouldn't collapse under the onslaught of a fully-loaded 747, but the side of the impact would be blasted and badly warped.  And I would remind you the Empire State building withstood a smaller plane crash early in its history, and is still standing eighty decades after its construction.  Besides, pyramids and Gothic cathedrals are just earlier versions of the same principle animating skyscrapers.  Up.  

      Q: A wrench, a screw driver, and a Republican walk into a bar. Who gets served first? A: The tool.

      by Troubadour on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:23:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Make that eight decades, not eighty. (0+ / 0-)

      I can hope, but I doubt the Empire State building will be there 8,000 years from now unless it's filled with solid carbon.

      Q: A wrench, a screw driver, and a Republican walk into a bar. Who gets served first? A: The tool.

      by Troubadour on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:24:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your defense is commendable (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        but there's no way that any of the skyscrapers make it that long. Steel rusts and glass breaks. Stone is a lot closer to forever.

        Harry Reid: Float like Barney Fife, sting like Aunt Bea.

        by MeMeMeMeMe on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:40:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm pretty sure that filling it solid (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SLKRR

          with something strong - even just plain old concrete - would give it a fighting chance.  Carbon would be especially strong.  Of course, nothing is guaranteed, even stone.  A nuclear war, or even just a plain old conventional war could destroy it.  But I'll go out on a limb and say that the Empire State Building will still be there 500 years from now, and that if it's destroyed before then, we'll simply rebuild it exactly as is.

          Q: A wrench, a screw driver, and a Republican walk into a bar. Who gets served first? A: The tool.

          by Troubadour on Thu May 06, 2010 at 10:55:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  As an art deco aficianado (7+ / 0-)

    my favorite is always NYC's Chrysler Building.

    Proud to be a socialist fuckstick.

    by jazzmaniac on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:22:15 PM PDT

  •  Nicely done! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, anodnhajo

    As a self-proclaimed "skyscraper enthusiast", I assume you are aware of Emporis.com?  I've added well over a thousand buildings to that site, though most of them are non-descript residential highrises that no one's ever heard of... ;-)

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." -- Dom Hélder Câmara

    by SLKRR on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:32:01 PM PDT

    •  I occasionally visit Emporis (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SLKRR

      but I find it more difficult to use than Skyscraperpage.

      Q: A wrench, a screw driver, and a Republican walk into a bar. Who gets served first? A: The tool.

      by Troubadour on Fri May 07, 2010 at 11:45:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        ...Emporis has made some changes over the last year to the site and I think it's become less user-friendly.  But that's where I've been uploading my stuff for a couple of years now, so I keep at it. ;-)

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." -- Dom Hélder Câmara

        by SLKRR on Sat May 08, 2010 at 10:53:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nice diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    The Burj Khalifa beats everything else by such a margin that it always astounds me, especially since it comes from a region of the world that is still developing. The host country itself has a reasonably high GDP but it's an island of prosperity in an ocean of poverty.

    •  The greatest skyscrapers always come (0+ / 0-)

      from individual initiative, not development companies.  If anyone's going to challenge Burj Khalifa, it's going to have to be a billionaire's pet project, not a real estate gig, and American cities are really stodgy and conservative about skyscrapers now - not just for security reasons, but because of preservationists who fear change.  I really like that Skyscraperpage keeps track of buildings under construction, and has comparative diagrams and photos of construction progress.

      Q: A wrench, a screw driver, and a Republican walk into a bar. Who gets served first? A: The tool.

      by Troubadour on Fri May 07, 2010 at 11:49:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I still miss the twin towers (4+ / 0-)

    As a New Yorker the skyline has never been the same.in addition to the tragic loss of life on 9/11 was the loss of one of the greatest examples of human aspiration.

  •  we still call the sears tower the sears tower. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, Troubadour

    just like we still call comisky park, comisky park. but we do call Trump Tower the Trump building.

    I have been as high as the 32nd floor, I think, in the sears tower. I have had a few meetings there but never higher than 32. I have immense acrophobia and am very uncomfortable going into the building and the elevators are awful. The longest I've lasted is 40 minutes. Which I think is really good but I have spent no time focused on why I was there. I have had to send other people to go in my place because it is so bad. The best time I've had with the sears tower is across the street (311 building). There's a little area of grass that you can sit (or lay on) and just look up at the sears tower. If you are like me, you will get vertigo looking at the tower but it is really something to see on a beautiful spring day.

    The Trump building is cool but I'll always be partial to the sears tower.

    Earth: Mostly harmless ~ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (revised entry)

    by yawnimawke on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:47:41 PM PDT

  •  i've seen 6 out of 10, not bad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    i still resent the burj dubai; before it was completed, i could say i'd been in the tallest building in the world (taipei 101).

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Thu May 06, 2010 at 09:08:16 PM PDT

    •  I resent the Burj Dubai (0+ / 0-)

      because it illuminates American weakness and lack of initiative.  Nobody here gives a shit anymore.  Nobody has any real pride - the kind that strives to be the best.  Most of American pride is now the bitter, self-satisfied kind that just looks with hostility on everyone who proves it unjustified.

      Q: A wrench, a screw driver, and a Republican walk into a bar. Who gets served first? A: The tool.

      by Troubadour on Fri May 07, 2010 at 11:56:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i'm not really sure building monuments (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour

        is a sign of greatness. while i agree with you on the unfortunate mode of american pride of late, i would consider societies that focused their engineering and technical efforts on making their cities more humane and livable in less dramatic ways to be more laudable than those who seek attention with big one-off stuff like skyscrapers but neglect the important but less flashy aspects. more a fan of city beautiful than the empire state, is what i'm saying, i guess.

        burj dubai's wrongness mainly lies in the manner it was made (namely the abusive use of south asian labor working under awful conditions and low pay) and the utter unsustainable uselessness of the structure given its context.  if taipei 101 is absurdly taller than its neighborhood, burj dubai is mind-blowing insanity.

        surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

        by wu ming on Sat May 08, 2010 at 04:44:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree about the labor (0+ / 0-)

          but rising absurdly above the surrounding city is kind of the point.  You do, however, touch on something that does put a damper on my admiration of the Dubai skyscrapers: They're cargo cultism.  America's skyscrapers rose from a culture of daring and enterprise.  Dubai thinks they can create success by just outdoing symbols, and that's not the case - they had to hire Americans to design their buildings.  But the fact of the buildings themselves is still inspiring.  Human beings conceived of them, designed them, and built them.  That is an awesome fact.

          Q: A wrench, a screw driver, and a Republican walk into a bar. Who gets served first? A: The tool.

          by Troubadour on Sat May 08, 2010 at 06:19:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Flickr set of Taipei 101 pics (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    I have a couple dozen pics on Flickr of Taipei 101. There's an outdoor platform that affords tremendous views.

    http://www.flickr.com/...

  •  Great topic for a diary. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SLKRR, Lefty Mama, Loonesta, Troubadour

    My favorites aren't necessarily the highest (Chrysler, ESB) nor the most beautiful ( I loved the World Trade Towers because when I lived in lower Manhattan they were a presence, kind of like a mascot ).

    But I also think these structures are 20th Century icons. For many locales a statement of having "arrived", just as a space shot or a nuclear weapon is. But maybe no longer the best use of talent or resources.

    I cringe thinking of the slave labor that must have gone into making the tower in Dubai.

    More critically, whereas a skyscraper represents a kind of individualistic triumph (whether it is privately financed or not) due to its relatively small footprint within a larger setting; I think the next awe inspiring structures, 21st Century structures, might not be spires to the heavens but more spreadout, large, terraced structures, covered with plant life. A modern day restatement of Mayan terraces if you will.

    This would be a message not of individual triumph, but of community cooperation, an entire ecosystem constructed within a city. A statement about living with the Earth, rather than overcoming its gravitational limits.

    BTW, I am not a big fan of steel and glass. The Trump Hotel in Chicago looks as bloated and bombastic as its namesake.

    •  We need both, I think. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cure7802

      Coordinated, well-designed, ecologically sound urban warrens can be comforting and create a sense of community togetherness, but they tend toward solipsism.  You need those pillars jutting into the heavens with unleashed ambition to remind people of their power as individuals.

      Q: A wrench, a screw driver, and a Republican walk into a bar. Who gets served first? A: The tool.

      by Troubadour on Fri May 07, 2010 at 12:02:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank You - N/T (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Thu May 06, 2010 at 10:26:40 PM PDT

  •  this is a feel-good diary (which I needed!) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, Troubadour

    I really like the pointy sides of several of the Asian sky scrapers. Much more visually interesting than the smooth hulks of Hong Kong and Chicago.

    In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

    by Lefty Mama on Fri May 07, 2010 at 12:51:20 AM PDT

  •  B.A.S.E. Jumpers are jonesin' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    big time for the Burj Khalifi. Every year at Petronas Twin Towers, there is a lovely jump festival. The Malaysians have been wonderful hosts  to the jumpers. Blue Skies and butterflies, SSK!  

    •  Should be plenty of wind (0+ / 0-)

      to direct them safely away from the building.  Wingsuit jumpers should have a blast.

      Q: A wrench, a screw driver, and a Republican walk into a bar. Who gets served first? A: The tool.

      by Troubadour on Fri May 07, 2010 at 12:07:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Now that high places and architecture (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bigjacbigjacbigjac

        are being discussed...Has anyone jumped from the Grand Canyon platform yet? I'm seeing festival there, too! BSBD, SSK!

        •  My dear SSK, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Santa Susanna Kid

          Why, out of more than 200,000 Kogs, only you and I are active at about 4am?

          Why is that?

          I exaggerate, but you and I are just about the only ones who often post at 4am.

          I am just a second shift Walmart worker, who needs to go to bed about this tiem, 4 or 5 am, and get up at noon, and to work at 2pm.

          Am I the only second shift worker who blogs at Daily Kos?

          If you care to reveal personal info, why are you at your computer at this hour so often?

          Peace.

          And, thank you for the A plus on my rec list diary.

          •  bigjac, your diaries seem to ring right with me. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bigjacbigjacbigjac

            My job keeps me working from 3-11 PM; sometimes it is necessary to work over a couple hours here and there. It then takes me a few hours to wind down once I get off work, hit the gym, and then come home. I suppose I'll always be a night owl. You couldn't pay me to work dayshift. I would have to live my life according to an alarm clock...SSK  

  •  Taipei 101, Jin Mao & Petronas Towers (0+ / 0-)
    Are by far my favorites in this group because they incorporate the modern combine both modern and traditional elements of the architecture where they reside so amplify rather than clash with the environment.

    "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

    by koNko on Fri May 07, 2010 at 11:47:43 PM PDT

  •  coolist, not talist (0+ / 0-)
    My current favorate c=modern and cool building is Q14 in Dubai. Given some of the ugly monstrosities built there, this building is a notable exception and would seem to fit in any city in the world.

    "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

    by koNko on Sat May 08, 2010 at 12:32:49 AM PDT

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