The new One World Trade Center made news in April when the tower under construction surpassed the Empire State Building to become the tallest structure in the Manhattan skyline. Set for completion in 2014, the building will top out at 1,776 feet, making it the tallest building in the United States if you count the 408-foot needle on the tower’s roof. That claim has sparked a minor tiff with fans of Chicago’s 1,451-foot Willis Tower, who argue that 1 WTC’s needle shouldn’t count in measurements. Either way, both those towers pale in comparison on the height chart to these five structures around the world that are opening in 2012 or are nearing completion.
5. Lotte World Tower, South Korea
This skyscraper in the South Korean capitol of Seoul is expected to top out in 2015 at 1,820 feet. Housing a mix of retail, office, residential and hotel space, the tower will also feature an observation deck at the 1,600-foot level.
4. Makkah Clock Royal Tower, Saudi Arabia
This striking centerpiece to the $15 billion Abraj Al-Bait Towers building complex in Mecca is 1,972 feet tall, making it the second tallest skyscraper in the world. In addition to being the tallest hotel, it also boasts the world’s biggest clock; the four-sided dial measures 130 feet across, dwarfing the one-time record holder, London’s iconic Big Ben (with a clock face measuring 23 feet wide). Dominating the Mecca skyline, the Makkah Clock Royal Tower will flash green and white lights five times daily to announce Muslim prayer times. The tower is scheduled to welcome its first hotel guests in November.
3. Shanghai Tower, China
China has been on a skyscraper-building binge in the past decade, and the Asian power currently boasts four of the 11 tallest buildings in the world, all completed since 2008. It goes without saying that some of the money and the economic and political confidence needed to build these enormous edifices comes from China’s funding of U.S. deficit spending in the past decade. But these buildings will all look up to the Shanghai Tower, a tower in Shanghai expected to top out at 2,073 feet when construction is finished in 2014. That will make it the second-tallest skyscraper in the world, behind only the record-smashing Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 2,723 feet.
2. Tokyo Skytree, Japan
Some visitors reportedly stood in line more than a week to get a look inside the new Tokyo Skytree after its opening in May 2012. With a height of 2,080 feet, the $800 million tower is now the second-tallest structure in the world, behind the aforementioned Burj Khalifa. In addition to serving a critical role in the transmission of digital radio and TV signals, the tower also features an aquarium, theater and observation decks and a restaurant — which for some reason features French, not Japanese, cuisine. The March 2011 Japanese earthquake delayed construction, which raises an obvious question; will the tower be safe in an earthquake? Designers say that computer simulations have shown the tower could withstand an 8.0 magnitude earthquake.
1. Ping An Finance Center, China
Yes, yet another Chinese skyscraper. With 115 stories — and five more stories below ground — this mixed-use tower in Tianjin, China will stand 2,165 feet tall when completed in 2015. Financing difficulties halted construction for a year, but work resumed in 2011. While this structure will be completed, many other mega-towers around the world announced in financial boom times a few years ago have seen construction halted or even canceled due to financial issues. Chief among these are the India Tower in Mumbai, India (2,300 feet); the Russia Tower in Moscow (2,009 feet); and the Doha Convention Center Tower in Qatar (1,808 feet).