History of the World's Tallest BuildingsTall structures have always fascinated mankind. There were buildings stretching well over 100 meters into the sky even before industrialization. But how has the history of the tallest buildings in the world developed? Which structures have played a role in this history? The essential details can be found here.
1901 - 1908
Philadelphia City Hall
From 1901 onward, Philadelphia City Hall in the American city of Philadelphia, already substantially taller at 167 meters, reached for the skies. In fact, the architecture of this skyscraper with a bell tower was not based on the recently-invented steel frame construction: to this day it is considered the tallest masonry structure in the world.
1908 - 1909
For seven years, Philadelphia City Hall was the world's tallest building until it was superseded in 1908 by the Singer Building in New York City, which was 20 meters taller. This particular skyscraper was only able to stay in pole position a short time, however. 1913, only four years later, saw the opening of the 213-meter-tall Metropolitan Life Tower, also located in New York City.
1909 - 1913
Metropolitan Life Tower
1913 - 1930
Construction of the Woolworth Building was only possible thanks to the development of reinforced foundations, technology intended to prevent the skyscraper from leaning too heavily and toppling over in the case of earth movements. Until 1930, the Woolworth Building was the world's tallest skyscraper.
1930 - 1930
The Trump Building
1930 - 1931
The Trump Building unfortunately had to cede its title after just a few weeks to the Chrysler Building, which, at 319 meters, exceeded it by far. The man who had it built, Walter Chrysler, was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris – at that time the world's tallest structure – to want to build the world's tallest skyscraper in the Chrysler Building in New York City. To win the race, Chrysler and his architect William van Alen came up with a sophisticated trick: Van Alen had an additional 56-meter-long spire built, which was then delivered secretly in pieces, put together in the elevator shaft and finally placed on the top of the building after its completion in just 90 minutes.
1931 - 1972
Empire State Building
Around a year after it opened, the Chrysler Building was superseded by the 381-meter-tall Empire State Building. Built in a record time of 18 months, the tower was viewed as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". The weight of its presence in the media and its use as a setting for films such as "King Kong" or "Independence Day" have helped to make the Empire State Building one of the best-known skyscrapers from anywhere around the world. For 41 years it was the world's tallest building – longer than any other of the record-holders.
1972 - 1974
One World Trade Center
Only in 1972 was this emblem of New York overtaken by an even-taller skyscraper in the shape of One World Trade Center, which – like so many of its predecessors as record-holder – was built in New York City. Following a construction period of seven years, the skyscraper and its 415-meter-tall twin tower became the two tallest buildings in the world. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, however, led to the World Trade Center being completely destroyed.
1974 - 1998
In 1974, two years on from the completion of the World Trade Center, the towers were overtaken by Sears Tower in Chicago. For over twenty years, the skyscraper was the world's tallest. In 2009, Sears Tower was renamed Willis Tower after the Willis Group Holding acquired the naming rights to the skyscraper and rented a substantial portion of the office space.
1998 - 2004
In 1998, with construction of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the title of the world's tallest building passed for the first time to a skyscraper outside America. A significant feature of the twin towers is the skybridge between the towers, which is intended to serve as an escape route in the case of emergency. The completion of the Petronas Towers finally made it necessary to set up rules for measuring skyscraper heights, as the towers were only awarded the title following a legal battle. The owner of Willis Tower in Chicago brought the action, since inclusion of the antenna would have meant Willis Tower would have exceeded the architectural height of the Petronas Towers. Since the judgment in favor of the Petronas Towers, television antennas are no longer recognized as an architectural component of buildings.
2004 - 2007
Until completion of Taipei 101 in Taiwan, the towers were considered the tallest skyscrapers in the world on account of the structural height of 452 meters. Taipei 101 took on this title in 2004 and thus became the first title-holder of the 21st century. The skyscraper claimed several records at once: the greatest architectural height, the greatest roof height and the highest occupied floor.
2007 - present
Even before Taipei 101 was completed, construction work had already begun on the next "supertall", Burj Dubai, today known under the name Burj Khalifa. In order to complete the tower, 2,400 workers were employed, working a three-shift system. On average it only took four days to add a new floor. The tower topped out at 828 meters in December 2008, but the structure had already passed the height of Taipei 101 in July 2007, making Burj Khalifa the world's tallest building – which it remains to this day. It was completed in 2010.
(As of: January 2014)
(As of: January 2014)