Five Tallest Towers in the World

Brush up on your skyscraper knowledge with these flashcard-style pages, featuring essential and fun facts about the tallest buildings in the world!

Burj Khalifa - Tallest Tower in the World

Design Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Burj Khalifa features a Y-shaped plan that tapers as it rises, reminiscent of a minaret in Islamic architecture. Due to its extraordinary height, the building is termed “megatall,” a term typically given to those towers that are taller than 600m and achieve great heights that were previously deemed unreachable.

Fun Fact: Tom Cruise performed some of his own stunts on the outside of Burj Khalifa in the movie Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol.

Shanghai Tower - Second Tallest Tower in the World

Design Architect: Gensler
Location: Shanghai, China


The triangular-shaped floor plan twists around a circular central core as it rises. The massive height of the building is broken into nine sections by lofty, multi-level atriums that contain building amenties such as lush gardens and cafes. Shanghai Tower is noted as one of the “greenest” skyscrapers on the planet for its eco-friendly features.

Fun Fact: The curtain wall is actually separated from the main superstructure of the building to allow for natural ventilation to occur, thus reducing heating and cooling loads on the building.

Jeddah Tower - Future Tallest Tower in the World (currently under construction)

Design Architect: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Featuring a triangular-shaped plan that tapers to a dramatic spire as it rises, Jeddah Tower is expected to cost a staggering $1.2 billion and will take more than five years to complete. The final height of the building has not been disclosed, but rumors suggest it will top out near the one-kilometer mark.

Fun Fact: Jeddah Tower resembles a little-known, never-realized work by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright called “The Illinois,” a design for a mile-high skyscraper.

One World Trade Center - Tallest Tower in the United States

Design Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)
Location: New York City, New York, US


The floor plan for One World Trade Center is square at the base, with the same footprint dimensions as the original World Trade Center towers. The tower’s top is a slightly smaller square, but rotated 45 degrees from the base. This causes the tower to taper as it rises, and forms a perfect octagonal floor plate near its midpoint.

Fun Fact: Although the highest occupiable floor is about 1,300 feet above the ground, the highest architectural element on the pinnacle of the spire reaches a patriotic 1,776 feet.

Petronas Towers - Tallest Twin Towers in the World

Design Architect: Cesar Pelli & Associates
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malayasia


The plan of each tower is developed from an eight-pointed star, with eight additional semi-circles that ring the perimeter. This pattern is represented on each floor as it rises 88 stories above the ground. An iconic skybridge connects the two towers at the 41st & 42nd levels.

Fun Fact: In a feat of multi-national collaboration, each tower was constructed by a dierent company and country - Japan for Tower 1 & South Korea for Tower 2. Spoiler alert: South Korea finished their tower first!


Sandy Pancoe is Design Manager for the USG Ceilings Solutions Group.  In addition to design management she also handles individual projects. Notable projects completed in recent years include the Myrtle Beach International Airport Expansion and Biome at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Australia. Prior to joining USG, Sandy specialized in retail design and completed many projects across the US and overseas. A licensed architect, Sandy is a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and a LEED-accredited professional. 

Michael DeMarco is a registered  architect with more than 12 years of professional experience working for top commercial design firms in Cleveland, OH. He has worked at USG in the Ceilings Solutions Group for the past 2 years. He is licensed to practice architecture in the State of Ohio, a member of the American Institute of Architects, a LEED-accredited professional and serves on his local community's Planning Commission.