Frank Lloyd Wright once proposed The Illinois, a mile-high skyscraper set on the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, a towering giant of a building powered by atomic elevators. It's clear symbol of the current race to raise skylines around the world that Wright's vision from the '50s, yet to be realized, is coming closer and closer to reality.
Developments in building technology and a surfeit of construction projects in Asia makes the title of tallest building more temporary than ever; only one of the buildings on this list of the ten tallest in waiting are in North America, and half of them will eventually eclipse the height of One World Trade Center. This list contains the tallest under construction based on data from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. There are many others on the drawing board, but this is meant to showcase the projects likely to be completed.
Jeddah Tower (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: 3,281 feet, estimated completion 2021)
This skyscraper is likely will become the first to break the one kilometer mark, not merely because it's already under construction and supported by the deep pockets of billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, but because it was designed by Adrian Smith.
An architect whose career highlights include the Hancock Center and Burj Khalifa, Smith designed the Jeddah Tower to be the next iteration of the Burj, a shard of steel and glass that, in its triangular shape, recalls a palm about to spread its fronds. The centerpiece of a new suburb, this skyscraper will shatter records, offer sightseers a perch on the 157th story (site of a proposed helipad), and even showcase an entirely new type of elevator, speedy double-decker cabins swept between floors by a new carbon fiber cord. Perhaps more incredible is that building was meant to be a mile high, but engineers discovered that the surrounding geology unsuitable to support such a structure.
Merdeka PNB118 (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 2,113 feet, estimated completion 2021)
Property developers are hoping this crystalline tower becomes as much of a catalyst for the city as César Pelli's Petronas Towers, still the tallest twin structures in the world. This is a massive project for Australian firm Fender Katsalidis Architects, which has been attached to a series of tall towers in Melbourne.
Wuhan Greenland Center (Wuhan, China: 2,087 feet, estimated completion 2019)
Another project being overseen by the firm of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, this in-the-works tower in central China offers a unique, curved profile, a tripod shape that tapers and forms a dome to reduce wind resistance. The entire structure, from the grand lobbies to the corners fashioned in curved glass, present a fluid profile, reducing the building's material footprint. To add an additional air of exclusivity, the summit of this multi-use super tall will include a private member's club.
Grand Rama 9 Tower (Bangkok, Thailand: 2,018 feet, estimated completion 2021)
A symbol of recent developments in the Thai capital, like the under-construction transit lines connecting outlying areas to the central business district, this supertall will be an exclamation point on Bangkok’s continued growth as a regional hub. Named after a famous Thai king, the future landmark, which will be southeast Asia’s tallest building, will include a six-star hotel and become a highlight of the city center, which features a master plan by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Global Financial Center Tower 1 (Shenyeng, China: 1,864 feet, estimated completion 2020)
Nicknamed the Pearl of the North, the 111-story, mixed-use skyscraper will feature a circular inset towards the apex as well as a luxury auto showroom towards the top floor and a smaller sister tower, both designed by Atkins. Set in the Golden Corridor in the city’s central business district, the tower also makes a nod towards regional history; the canopies were designed to resemble the tents of the Qing Dynasty.
Tianjin CTF Finance Centre (Tianjin, China: 1,739 feet, estimated completion 2020)
Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to meet LEED Gold standards, this gently sloping tower features a crystallized facade that accentuates the curves of the building’s frame. There’s rhyme and reason to those subtle bends and arches: along with strategically placed vents, the shape reduces “vortex shedding,” which sharply decreases the wind forces impacting the tower.
China Zun Tower (Beijing, China: 1,732 feet, estimated completion 2018)
Modeled after a ceremonial “zun” vessel, a bronze or ceramic design meant to hold wine, this gently curving tower will soon rise over the new extension of Beijing’s central business district. Designed by the international architecture firm Farrells, with engineering help by Arup and KPF serving as design and executive architect, the unique, concave tower, split between office space, private club and an observation deck, provides additional high-rent space on the top floors and a dramatic lobby entrance on the ground floor. In addition to claiming the title of China’s tallest building, the Zun will also be the tallest structure in a high seismic zone when its finished, relying on steel-concrete composite braces and a solid concrete core for stability.
Skyfame Center Landmark Tower (Nanning, China: 1,732 feet, estimated completion 2021)
Also known as the Tianyu Tower, this 108-story project hasn’t released many official details, despite being on the CTBUH list. Some commenters on an older Skyscraper City discussion page where this photo was sourced have noted the building is named after the developer.
Evergrande International (Hefei, China: 1,699 feet, estimated completion 2021)
Originally designed by Atkins, with Thornton Tomasetti working as structural engineers, this unique tower mimics the contours of bamboo, with seven vertical sections set to utilize a “core-outrigger system.” The mixed-use structure will be the centerpiece of the central business district in Hefei, a city in east-central China.
Central Park Tower (New York City, USA: 1,550 feet, estimated completion 2020)
A rare U.S. structure to crack the top ten list, this forthcoming addition to Billionaire’s Row in Manhattan, another Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill design, has been the subject of speculation, especially over the highly anticipated additions to the city’s high-end residential market. According to a recent report in Curbed New York, the developer, reports suggest developer Extell will price 20 of the condos at $60 million or more.