Height isn’t everything
WE were looking at the screensaver on our television the other day. Thanks to a kind friend who is technically far more advanced than we are, we can now catch up on programmes we have missed, watching them on the television rather than the computer. The system has an interesting screensaver which moves very slowly around the globe, mainly from a satellite, but occasionally coming much closer and offering tantalising glimpses of places as different as Greenland and an unidentified but very futuristic city-scape of glittering lights and towers. Curious to find out where it is, we searched on the internet and it set us thinking about the proliferation of very tall (apparently they are called “super-tall”) buildings.
As far as we are concerned there are really only two tall buildings in the world that are beautiful and a joy to behold, breathtaking in every sense. One is Salisbury Cathedral, with its 404 ft (123 m) spire and the other is the 1,046 ft Chrysler Building in New York (319 m to the tip of the top). The others seem really to be more about testosterone-driven nationalistic ambition and gung-ho architectural competition than any serious attempt at an aesthetic response to the expansion needs of space-poor cities. But just for interest, here are the nine tallest buildings in the world, as at the beginning of February 2019.
Burj Khalifa in Dubai, 828 metres – inaugurated in 2010, it has officially been the tallest structure and building in the world since its topping out in 2008. The 160-storey tall building was designed by the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), described as the global leader in creating ultra-tall structures, with Adrian Smith FAIA, RIBA, consulting design partner.
Wuhan Greenland Centre, 636 metres – work on this Chinese skyscraper on the Yangtze river waterfront was suspended in August 2017 at the 96th of a planned 125 floors. Due to changed airspace regulations, the tower is within the flightpath to Tianhe International Airport and has to be redesigned so its height does not exceed 500 metres above sea level. It was designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architects in conjunction with Thornton Tomasetti Engineers, who together won the design competition to build an energy-efficient tower for Greenland Group, a property development company owned by the Shanghai city government.
The Shanghai Tower, 632 metres – China’s tallest building, officially opened in 2016, is a 128-storey skyscraper in the Pudong area of Shanghai. It has the world’s highest observation deck within a building or structure at 562 m (a record it shares with the Pin An Finance Centre in Shenzhen), and the second fastest elevators, with a top speed of 20.5 metres per second.
Makkah Royal Clock Tower, 601 metres – the world’s highest clock tower, at the heart of the holiest Islamic city, Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, brings a contemporary buzz to the always bustling historic city. The tower, next to the Grand Mosque, is part of the King Abdulaziz Endowment Project, providing comfortable accommodations for devout Muslims who make the pilgrimage to Mecca during the annual Hajj period.
Goldin Finance 117, 597 metres (when completed) – construction on this super-tall building, which is also known as China 117 Tower, began in Tianjin in 2008 and topping out took place in 2015. When it is finished it will be the second tallest building in China, surpassing the Shanghai World Financial Centre.
Ping An International Finance Centre (also known as the Ping An IFC), 599 metres (to the tip) – this 115-storey skyscraper in Shenzhen, Guangdong, was commissioned by Ping An Insurance and designed by the American architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. It shares the record (with the Shanghai Tower) of having the highest observation deck in a building, at 562 m.
Lotte World Tower, 555 metres – South Korea’s tallest building is a 123-floor skyscraper in Seoul. It opened to the public in April 2017. The accommodation within the tower is described as a “state-of-the-art vertical metropolis.”
One World Trade Center, 546 metres (to the tip) – One WTC is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan. It is the tallest building in the United States, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth tallest in the world.
Guangzhou Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre, 530 metres – this mixed-use skyscraper in Guangzhou, Guangdong, was completed in October 2016. It is the tallest completed building in Guangzhou and the third -tallest in China, which currently has five of the nine tallest buildings in the world.
Pictured: Now, which ones do you think are most beautiful? Salisbury Cathedral, the Chrysler Building, Burj Khalifa, Makkah Royal Clock Tower, Lotte World Tower in Seoul, One World Trade Centre