When judging which building is the tallest in the world. There has been controversy over the years as to exactly what constitutes a building. Some argue that a building must have habitable floors; otherwise it should be in a separate, tower category. There has also been much critical debate about the additions of spires, pinnacles and masts to increase height. Therefore, in 1998, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats decided to end the debate by dividing the status into four distinct categories: Height to architectural top, highest occupied floor, height to top of roof and highest tip. Since 2009 the height to top of roof category has been eliminated.
The Willis (formerly Sears) tower was once a leader in three of the four categories. Standing at 1,370 feet, it was originally beaten by the former World Trade Centre in ‘height to tip’, but swiftly added a nine foot mast to overtake. However, in ‘height to architectural top’ it has consistently fallen behind the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia, which stand at 1,482 feet.
The original stand-off which caused the CTBUH to create the separate categories began with these two structures. The Sears Tower had held the ‘tallest building’ record for many years, until the completion of the Petronas Towers. The problem came about because the twin towers were topped with a spire. Their height to the tip of the spire meant they beat the then Sears tower. But, if the spire was discounted then they would fall just short.
The CN Tower, whilst not suitable for inclusion in this particular category as far as the official channels are concerned, nonetheless reaches a height of 1,815ft. And is to this day the tallest man-made structure in the western hemisphere.
Taipei 101 opened in Taiwan in 2004, and almost swept the boards. At 1,671ft tall, this wonder of modern architecture remained the tallest inhabited building in the world until 2010, and the dawn of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
This uniquely designed building has ever since held the prestigious title of, not just tallest building. But, tallest man-made structure on Earth. From floor to tip, it stands a majestic 2,723ft high. This monolithic structure has 163 habitable floors, and there are a further 46 maintenance levels in the spire. The cladding cleaning costs must be phenomenal!
A little bit of history
While the Great Pyramid at Giza is practically a midget compared to these mighty buildings, it must be mentioned, as it held the title of world’s tallest building for over four millennia. Thought to have been built around 2570BC, at 481feet tall it was unsurpassed in height until Lincoln Cathedral was built in 1311. When you factor in the lack of modern building techniques. This is still a pretty impressive height, and as the longest record holder. The Pyramid certainly deserves inclusion in this list.