The term skyscraper’ was originally used to refer to tall masts on sailing ships, but late in the 19th century was coined to describe buildings being constructed in metropolitan areas. Skyscrapers in those days were 10 stories tall and were a source of public amazement. Imagine how that public would react to the towering buildings in the world today.
Skyscrapers hold a fascination across all nations and cultures. The axis mundi (“center of the world”) is an ancient symbol representing a pillar which connects earth and heaven. Skyscrapers are a modern embodiment of this symbol.
The top 3 tallest skyscrapers in the world today were constructed in the new millennium. They are found in areas of the world which have experienced significant economic growth and development in the past decade. These are a new kind of skyscraper, architecturally striking and representative of new centers of commerce and development.
#1 Tallest Skyscraper: Burj Dubai
Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, is one of wealthiest and most modern cities in the world. It has a booming economy and is a major tourist and shopping destination. Burj Dubai, which is still under construction, is the tallest man-made structure in the world. There will be approximately 160 floors in the 818 meter building.
Burj Dubai is awe inspiring, dominating the desert landscape. It has been engineered for its environment, with an exterior cladding which will withstand extreme summer temperatures. Its architecture contains references to traditional Islamic motifs. When complete, the skyscraper will rise spectacularly from a man-made lake.
#2 Tallest Skyscraper: Taipei 101
Xinyi District is a modern, cosmopolitan area of Taipei, Taiwan. Xinyi is the center of government, finance and shopping in Taipei, and is also home to Taipei 101, a 101-story skyscraper. At 509 meters, it was the world’s tallest structure from 2004 through 2009, when it was surpassed by Burj Dubai.
Taipei 101 is notable for its striking postmodern architecture, which combines elements of both the pagoda and bamboo plant. The building’s engineering enables it to withstand the typhoon winds and earthquakes which can occur in Taiwan.
#3 Tallest Skyscraper: Shanghai World Financial Center
Shanghai, with a population of 20 million, is the largest city in China and one of the largest in world. It’s the busiest cargo port in the world, and has been the site of intense development over the past decade.
The World Financial Center in Shanghai is the 3rd tallest build in the world, with a height of 492 meters. The design of this 101-story tower is unique due to a square aperture at its peak. Besides being a design element, the aperture is an engineering feature which reduces wind pressure. Shanghai World Financial Center is topped by a roof rather than a spire, making it the tallest roofed skyscraper in the world.
With the shift of the tallest skyscrapers from the United States to other parts of the world, there has been a change in design from simple geometric shapes to postmodern designs with local cultural influences. The new skyscrapers are not generic, but reflect the country and culture of their origin.
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