World's tallest structures

From Academic Kids

For many millennia the record holder for world's tallest structure was clearly defined (see table below.) However, there has been much debate as to the ranking of the world's tallest structures since the middle of the 20th century, chiefly depending on the criteria used for selecting the structures admissible to the list.

Warsaw radio mast
Warsaw radio mast

In particular, there is debate about whether:

  • guy-wire-supported structures can be counted,
  • only habitable height counts,
  • roof-top antennas can be counted towards height of inhabitable buildings; the debate over this originates from that fact that spires are included in the height but antennas are not (see the debate on the Sears Tower versus the Petronas Towers),
  • observation galleries on communication towers make them into habitable buildings,
  • structures under construction can be included in the list, and whether
  • structures rising out of water should have their below-water height included.

Tallest structures

Missing image
KVLY-TV mast

Tallest Structure by Category

Category Structure Country/Region City Height to relevant point
Supported StuctureKVLY-TV mastUSA Blanchard, North Dakota 629 m (2,063 ft)
Freestanding StructurePetronius Platform Gulf of Mexico 610 m (2,001 ft)
Freestanding Structure On LandCN TowerCanada Toronto 559 m (1,865 ft)
Freestanding Structure with Largest Functional Structure Borj-e Milad Iran Teheran 435m (1,427 ft)
Building - to top of antennaSears Tower USA Chicago 529 m (1,736 ft)
Building - to architectural topTaipei 101 Taiwan Taipeh 508 m (1,667 ft)
Building - to top of the roofTaipei 101 Taiwan Taipeh 448 m (1,470 ft)
Building - to highest occupied floorTaipei 101 Taiwan Taipeh 438 m (1,437 ft)
Chimney Chimney of GRES-2 Power Station Kazachstan Ekibastusz 419.7 m (1,437 ft)
Lattice TowerKiev TV Tower Ukraina Kiev 385 m (1,437 ft)
Partially Guyed TowerGerbrandy Tower Netherlands Lopik 375 m (1,437 ft)
Bridge PillarMillau ViaductFrance Millau 341 m (1,053 ft)
Residential BuildingBurj al-ArabUAE Dubai 321 m (1,053 ft)
Electricity pylonPylons of Pearl River Crossing China Pearl River 253 m (1,053 ft)
MinarettHassan II Mosque Maroc Casablanca 210 m (1,053 ft)
Church TowerUlm Münster Germany Ulm 161 m (1,053 ft)
Industrial Hall VAB USA Kennedy Space Center 160 m (1,053 ft)
Memorial Cross Santa Cruz del Valle de los Caídos Spain El Escorial 152.4 m (1,053 ft)
Silo Schapfen-Mill-Tower Germany Ulm 130 m (1,053 ft)
Air-traffic-controll tower KUL Control Tower Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 130 m (1,053 ft)
Light Advertisement Bayer Cross Leverkusen Germany Leverkusen 118 m (1,053 ft)
Tower built of wood Radio Tower Gliwice Poland Gliwice 118 m (1,053 ft)
support tower of aerial tramway Pillar of third section of Gletscherbahn Kaprun Austria Kaprun 113.6 m (1,053 ft)

The tallest currently standing structure is the KVLY-TV mast near Mayville, North Dakota, at 629 m (2,063 ft). It is a transmission antenna, consisting of a bare metal structure supported by guy-wires. Transmission towers in excess of 600 meters (~2000 ft) exist in the USA at following places, which are almost situated in the Midwest.

Community Mast(s)
Blanchard, North Dakota KVLY-TV mast
Galesburg, North Dakota KXJB Tower
Walnut Grove, California KXTV/KOVR Tower, Hearst-Argyle Tower, Channel 40 Tower
Liverpool, Texas KLDE Tower
Sioux City, Iowa KCAU TV Tower
Redfield, Arkansas KATV Tower
Colly Township, North Carolina WECT TV6 Tower
Fordland, Missouri KOLR/KOZK Tower, KY3 Tower
Alleman, Iowa WOI-Tower, Des Moines Hearst-Argyle Television Tower Alleman
Fairchild, Wisconsin WEAU-Tower
Floyd Dale, South Carolina Diversified Communications Tower
Rowley, Iowa AFLAC Tower
Dallas, North Carolina WBTV-Tower, WCNC-TV Tower
Windham Springs, Alabama WTTO Tower, TV Alabama Tower
Awendaw, South Carolina WCSC-Tower
Bolding, Arkansas KTVE-Tower
Metcalf, Georgia WCTV Tower
Rowena, South Dakota KDLT Tower
Auburn, North Carolina WRAL HDTV Mast, WTVD Tower, WNCN Tower
Thomasville, Georgia SpectraSite Tower Thomasville
Vacherie, Louisiana WCKW/KSTE-Tower
Elkhart, Iowa American Towers Tower Elkhart
Collinsville, Texas Salem Radio Properties Tower
Raymond, Mississippi WLBT Tower
Marshfield, Missouri KYTV Tower 2
Hoyt, Colorado Radio Tower Hoyt
Decatur, Texas Service Broadcasting Tower Decatur
Devers, Texas KHYS Tower, Clear Channel Broadcasting Tower Devers
Awendaw, South Carolina Media General Tower
Trenton, North Carolina Eastern North Carolina Broadcasting Tower
Rowena, South Dakota KELO TV Tower
Grifton, North Carolina WITN Tower
Columbia, Louisiana Noe Corp Tower
Plymouth County, Iowa Pappas Telecasting Tower
Missouri City, Texas KHOU-TV Tower, Richland Towers Tower Missouri City, Senior Road Tower, KTRK-TV Tower, Houston Tower Joint Venture Tower, American Towers Tower Missouri City, Fox-TV Tower
Inverness, Mississippi Mississippi Telecasting Tower
Middlesex, North Carolina Capstar Radio Tower

The Warsaw radio mast at Gabin-Konstantynow near Warsaw, Poland at 645 m (2,115 ft) was taller, but it collapsed on August 8th, 1991.

The main reason these transmission antennas are not usually included with the world's tallest buildings is that they are not self-supported. Another example of a structure that's not self-supporting is a long rope tethered to the ground on one end and to a helium balloon on the other. If structures that are not self-supporting were counted then these would be the tallest in the world.

However guyed masts are designed for permanent use and cannot be dismantled quickly e.g. in case of bad weather as rope structures carried by a balloon to the sky. So guyed masts have to be as free-standing towers designed in such way that they can stand strong winds and other natural forces.

The Petronius Platform stands 610 m (2,001 ft) tall, making it the tallest freestanding structure in the world. However, as this oil and natural gas platform is partially supported by buoyancy, some critics argue that the below-water height should not be counted, in the same manner as the underground 'height' of buildings is not taken into account.

The CN Tower in Toronto stands 553.33 m (1,815 ft) tall, making it the tallest freestanding structure above ground. Ostankino Tower in Moscow is currently being renovated following a fire. When completed it will stand 577m (1,893 ft).

The tallest tower built of lattice steel is Kiev TV Tower with a height of 386 metres. Built in 1934 and demolished in 1945, the tallest tower ever built of wood was the 190 metre high radio tower of the transmitter Mühlacker in Germany. The tallest tower built of wood is currently the transmission tower of the transmitter Gliwice in Poland at 118 meters.

Tallest buildings

Comparison of top skyscrapers
Comparison of top skyscrapers

Up until 1998 the tallest building status was essentially uncontested. Counting buildings as structures with floors throughout, New York City's World Trade Center was the tallest including the antennas, Sears Tower in Chicago excluding the antennas. As antennas were usually excluded, Sears Tower was counted as the tallest. When Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was built, some felt that the "spire" extending to 9 meters higher than the roof of the Sears Tower was just added to "cheat" its way into the spot as tallest building. Excluding the spire, the Petronas Towers were not taller than the Sears Tower. Therefore, before the Petronas Towers were completed, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat defined four categories in which the "world's tallest building" can be measured:

  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

The height is measured from the sidewalk level of the main entrance. In all of these categories, Sears Tower had held the top spot. After Petronas was built, Sears Tower became second in the first category only.

On April 20, 2004, the Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan was completed. Its completion gave it the record for the first category.

Today, the Taipei 101 leads in the first category with 508 m (1,667 ft); in the second category with an occupied floor at 438 m (1,437 ft); and in the third category with 448 m (1,470 ft). The first category was formerly held by the Petronas Twin Towers with 452 m (1,483 ft), and before that by Sears Towers with 443 m (1,448 ft). The second category was held by the Sears Tower, with 435 m (1,431 ft). The third category was formerly held by the Sears Tower with 442 m (1,445 ft).

The Sears Tower still leads in the fourth category with 529 m (1,736 ft), previously held by the World Trade Center until its destruction in 2001; its antenna included, it measured 536 m (1,758 ft). The World Trade Center became the world's tallest buildings to be demolished–indeed, its site entered the record books twice on September 11, 2001, in that category, replacing the Singer Building, which once stood a block from the WTC site.

The CN Tower is excluded from these categories because it is not a "habitable building", which is defined as a frame structure made with floors and walls throughout.

History of Record Holders in each CTBUH category

Date (Event)1.Height to the architectural top 2. Height to the highest occupied floor 3. Height to the top of the roof4. Height to the top of antenna
2003 (Completion of Taipei 101)Taipei 101Taipei 101Taipei 101Sears Tower
2001 (Destruction of World Trade Center)Petronas Twin TowersSears TowerSears TowerSears Tower
1998 (Completion of Petronas Towers)Petronas Twin TowersSears TowerSears TowerWorld Trade Center
1996 (CTBUH defines the four categories)Sears TowerSears TowerSears TowerWorld Trade Center

Tallest structures before 1954

Held record Name and Location Constructed Height (m) Height (ft) Notes
From To
c. 2600 BC c. 2570 BC Red Pyramid of Sneferu, Egypt c. 2600 BC 105 345  
c. 2570 BC c. AD 1300 Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt c. 2570 BC 146 481 By AD 1439 the Great Pyramid had eroded to a height of approximately 139 m (455 ft)
c. 1300 1549 Lincoln Cathedral, England 10921311 160 524 The central spire was destroyed in a storm in 1549
1549 1625 St. Olaf's Church, Tallinn, Estonia 14381519 159 522 The spire burnt down after a lightning strike in 1625
1625 1847 Notre Dame Minster, Strasbourg, Germany, now France 1439 143 469 Still standing
1847 1876 St. Nikolaikirche, Hamburg, Germany 18461847 147 483 Designed by George Gilbert Scott
1876 1880 Cathédrale Notre Dame, Rouen, France 12021876 151 495  
1880 1884 Cologne Cathedral, Germany 12481880 157 515 Still the tallest Gothic spires
1884 1889 Washington Monument, United States 1884 169 555  
1889 1930 Eiffel Tower, Paris, France 1889 300 986 The addition of a telecommunications tower brought the overall height to 324 meters in the 1950s  
1930 1931 Chrysler Building, New York, United States 19281930 319 1046  
1931 1954 Empire State Building, New York, United States 19301931 381 1250 A broadcasting tower added in the 1950s brought its overall height to 443 meters; the 481 meter KWTV Mast, Oklahoma City was constructed in 1954

Currently-standing tallest structures

Rank Name and location Year
Height1 Stories
m ft
1 Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan 2004 508 1,668 101
2 Petronas Tower I, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1998 452 1,483 88
(tie) 2 Petronas Tower II, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1998 452 1,483 88
4 Sears Tower, Chicago (IL), United States 1974 442 1,450 110
5 Jin Mao Building, Shanghai, China 1998 421 1,380 88
6 Two International Finance Centre, Hong Kong, China 2003 412 1,352 88
7 CITIC Plaza, Guangzhou, China 1997 391 1,283 80
8 Shun Hing Square, Shenzhen, China 1996 384 1,260 69
9 Empire State Building, New York (NY), United States 1931 381 1,250 102
10 Central Plaza, Hong Kong, China 1992 374 1,227 78
11 Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong, China 1989 368 1,209 72
12 Emirates Office Tower, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 1999 355 1,165 55
13 T & C Tower, Kaohsiung, Taiwan 1997 347 1,140 85
14 Aon Center, Chicago (IL), United States 1973 346 1,136 80
15 The Center, Hong Kong, China 1998 346 1,135 73
16 John Hancock Center, Chicago (IL), United States 1967 344 1,127 100
17 Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang, North Korea 1995 330 1,083 105
18 Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand 1997 328 1,076 ?
19 Burj al Arab Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 1999 321 1,053 60
20 Chrysler Building, New York (NY), United States 1930 319 1,046 77
21 Bank of America Plaza, Atlanta (GA), United States 1993 312 1,023 55
22 U.S. Bank Tower, Los Angeles (CA), United States 1990 310 1,018 75
23 Telekom Malaysia Headquarters, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 1999 310 1,017 55
24 Emirates Towers Hotel, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 2000 309 1,014 56
25 AT&T Corporate Center, Chicago (IL), United States 1989 307 1,007 60
Towers and Other Structures
KVLY-TV mast, Fargo (ND), United States 1963 629 2,063
1 CN Tower, Toronto (ON), Canada 1976 553 1,815
2 Ostankino Tower, Moscow, Russia 1967 540 1,772

1 Height for inhabited buildings (with stories) does not include TV towers and antennas.

Source: Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

Proposed record-breaking structures

A Solar Chimney that has been proposed in Buronga, New South Wales, Australia would be 1,000 m (3,281 ft) tall. Engineering feasibility has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of consulting engineers, and construction is a matter of financial viability.

The 492 m (1,614 ft; roof height) Shanghai World Financial Center in Shanghai, China has proposed completion in 2007, but has been delayed by evaluation of soil stability. A competing on-going project for the world's tallest is the 474 m (1,555 ft) Union Square Phase 7 in Hong Kong, also scheduled for completion in 2007. This would make either building the tallest under categories 2 and 3 by the CTBUH.

The Freedom Tower of the new World Trade Center in New York City will reach 1,776 ft (541.3 metres) to its spire and about 1,100 ft (335 m) to its roof once completed in 2008. This would make it the tallest building under categories 1 and 4 by the CTBUH. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 2004.

Burj Dubai is a 705-metre (2,313-foot) skyscraper currently under development in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Designed to be completed around 2008, this would put it at the number one spot in all four of CTBUH's categories, as well as make it the tallest freestanding structure.

The new Guangdong TV Tower at Guangzhou, China may also become one of the world's tallest structures.

There are some plans for a 609.6 metre high free-standing TV tower at Bayonne, New Jersey.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi announced his own "world's tallest" proposal, the 677m-tall pyramid-shaped World Centre of Vedic Learning, in 1998.

Other proposed very tall towers

Radio masts taller than 600 metres

Tower Pinnacle height Country Town Weblinks
Central Missouri State University Tower Syracuse 609.6 metres USA Syracuse, Missouri [1] (
Liberman Broadcasting Tower Sargent 609.6 metres USA Sargent, Texas [2] (
Cumulus Broadcasting Tower Winnie 609.6 metres USA Winnie, Texas [3] (
American Media Services Tower Agate 609.5 metres USA Agate, Colorado [4] (
Vertical Properties Tower Busterville 609.5 metres USA Busterville, Texas [5] (, [6] (
Cumulus Broadcasting Tower Stowell 609.3 metres USA Stowell, Texas [7] (
Pegasus Broadcasting Tower 609 metres USA Metcalf, Georgia [8] (
SpectraSite Tower Raymond 608.8 metres USA Raymond, Mississippi [9] (
Beasley Tower 608.7 metres USA Immokalee, Florida [10] (
KKDD-FM Tower 608.1 metres USA Hoyt, Colorado [11] (
Liberman Broadcasting Tower Devers 607.7 metres USA Devers, Texas [12] (
Wiliam Smith Tower Walker 607 metres USA Walker, Iowa [13] (
CBC Real Estate Tower Auburn 606.4 metres USA Auburn, North Carolina [14] (
Gray TV Tower Grifton 605 metres USA Grifton, North Carolina [15] (
Pappas Telecasting Tower Plymouth County 2 603.5 metres USA Plymouth County, Iowa [16] (


  • TV tower of Djakarta [17] (

See also

External links


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