January 08, 2008

Race for dominance in tallest structures!

You hear endless debates and claims about the tallest buildings and towers in the world. Here's the story that tell some facts and comparisons based on few sources including Wikipedia. There are no overall agreed global standards on this, and too many factors to consider; should it be only the buildings or also the towers and other structures, should the antennas be counted or not, etc. But there's one truth; humankind has been ever since competing for dominating the heights either this or other way.

It started long ago with Snofru's Red Pyramid (105 m) (see picture) and then Giza Pyramid (146 m) both in Egypt (2600-2570 BC), then England took over the dominance with Lincoln Cathedral (160 m) in 1300. Many tall buildings and structures were built as the years went on and the record changed many hands, but I will only pick the ones that brought visible changes in height race. In 1884 Eiffel Tower hit 300 meter record. US joined the race and took over the flag with Chrysler Building (319 m) in 1930 and Empire State Building (381 m) in 1931. As it was the days of Cold War, Soviets were trying to beat US in every field, so they built Ostankino TV Tower (537 m) and it still holds the record in Europe! If you have ever been to Moscow even on transit then you might have seen this tower when landing to or taking off from Sheremetyevo Airport. Shortly after that in 1975, Canada said it was never late and built CN Tower (553 m) that kept the record of the tallest structure till last year. And it seems like the dominance is going back to where it belonged once - Middle East! Dubai is already building few tall buildings (not just a structure or tower, but a building!) and Burj Dubai will be the highest structure, building or whatever you call it. Last year its completed part already overtook CN tower's record. Its height is kept as secret, but estimated to be higher than 800 meters! I am looking forward who will break the 1 kilometer record next!

Burj Dubai and other skyscrapers of Dubai

??? Now what about other buildings that were known to be the tallest buildings at certain periods?! What about Taipei 101 (509 m) in Taiwan, Petronas Twin Towers (425 m) in Malaysia, Sears Tower (527 m) in Chicago and World Trade Center (526 m) that was destroyed later by terrorists?

They were indeed accepted as the tallest buildings in one or more out of 4 categories of CTBUH (the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat). In this system, communication towers and other structures are disqualified, only buildings are considered.
These 4 categories as listed in Wikipedia;
  1. Height to the structural or architectural top (including spires and pinnacles, but not antennas, masts or flagpoles)
  2. Height to the highest occupied floor
  3. Height to the top of the roof
  4. Height to the top of antenna
And the table showing the record holders in each category between 1996 and 2003 (Wikipedia);

Date (Event) ↓ Architectural top ↓ Highest occupied floor ↓ Rooftop ↓ Antenna ↓
2003: Taipei 101 completed Taipei 101 Taipei 101 Taipei 101 Sears Tower
2000: Sears Tower antenna extension Petronas Towers Sears Tower Sears Tower Sears Tower
1998: Petronas Towers completed Petronas Towers Sears Tower Sears Tower World Trade Center
1996: CTBUH defines categories Sears Tower Sears Tower Sears Tower World Trade Center

Taipei101 at night (taken by Highwayman)

Above the clouds at Taipei101 Observation Floor (89th floor)

Highwayman's Video: View of Kuala Lumpur and Petronas Towers from TV Tower observation deck (it is located on the hill)

Highwayman's Video: Close view of Petronas Towers

Sources & some photos from; Wikipedia, www.emaar.com

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Anonymous Jamaipanese said...

great post mate!!!!

January 14, 2008 10:56 PM  
Blogger aibek said...


January 15, 2008 12:57 AM  
OpenID Jaffer said...

Canada's attempt to built the CN tower started as quite an honest beginning to build a Communications tower.
It was later after negotiations and and during the design stages they realized what they were getting into and went back to the drawing board.
Almost everybody involved expected that it's record would stand for only about a year. Now they are still dazed that the record stands at 32 years!

Today some argue that the CN tower was built to show Canada's industrial strength as it stands on the shores of the lake Ontario facing the USA.

January 15, 2008 4:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the problem is not the tall building but the locations like Taipei, Shanghai and KL that are prone to natural disasters like earthquakes, flooding, typhoons etc. In Japan even the largest buildings have to withstand an earthquake and go through earthquake tests

January 15, 2008 12:14 PM  
Blogger aibek said...

I believe that this race for having the tallest building or tower, in fact, is the power show of the countries. because otherwise it is not really feasible. if you have been to Taipei, you'd see Taipei101 standing tall only by itself in the city where there are no other skyscrapers (due to earthquakes and typhoons).

January 15, 2008 12:23 PM  
Blogger aibek said...

that's true, and that's another reason that I'm amazed with Asian Tigers. Same for Taipei101; it has this huge dampening ball on the top of Taipei101 to stand against earthquakes and winds. Check out Gary's blog article and photo about it - http://everything-everywhere.com/category/asia/taiwan/

January 15, 2008 12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

aibek, you have no idea what you are talking about... the worlds tallest tower = country power?
then are you saying that the United Arab Emirates is the most powerful force in the world? get your facts straight. the arab are not even close to being a superpower.

September 04, 2008 1:20 AM  
Blogger Aibek D. said...

where did you see the point or even single word where I am saying that tallest tower is equal to country power. the post is about race for having tallest structures, not a super power race. Read carefully before you comment.

September 04, 2008 9:28 AM  

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