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Top 10 Architecturally Significant Skyscrapers

Written by: Catalogs.com Editorial Staff

April 12, 2011
Filed Under Offbeat 

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A list of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapersContributed by Robert P. Simon, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru

Defined simply as a “very tall building,” skyscrapers appeal to the imagination of both busy pedestrians and serious students of architecture.

In the race to reach ever higher, modern skyscrapers are feats of both creative genius and structural engineering. Dependent upon availability of materials, expertise and fiscal backing, skyscrapers can put a city on the architectural road map. Or not.

Here is my list of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers. Agree or disagree, these phenomenal buildings fought for position in this highly competitive list.


10. 30 St. Mary Axe, The “Gherkin”

One of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers

Designed by Sir Norman Foster, this London skyscraper is an icon for what many consider the financial center of the world. With an unusual shape and immaculate details, the Gherkin anchors an otherwise eclectic skyline.

9. Taipei 101

One of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers

At one time the world’s tallest building, Taipei 101 serves as one of the primary images of Taiwan’s international presence. Simple in its form and brilliantly engineered, the 101 story tower is rife with symbolism unique to Chinese speaking culture.

8. Burj Khalifa

One of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers

One of noted skyscraper architect Adrian Smith’s signature works, the Burj Khalifa (formerly the Burj Dubai) stands as a towering monument to the wealth and power of its creators. A tourist attraction and residential tower, the Burj Khalifa is currently the world’s tallest building.

7. Empire State Building

One of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers

Iconic in name, stature, and reputation, the Empire State Building draws its name from the city’s own regal moniker. Located at the intersection of 5th Avenue and West 34th, the tower is easily New York’s most elegant and recognizable landmark, with a mere view of the spire driving up property values for miles.

6. Burj Al Arab

One of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers

A luxury hotel in Dubai, the Burj Al Arab may lack the sheer size or grandeur of the other skyscrapers on this list, but makes up in sheer formal grace. Alternately loved and hated for its opulence and audacious presence, the tower draws its shape from the inspiration of a wind-filled sail.

5. Sears/Willis Tower

One of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers

Perhaps the world’s most renowned skyscraper, the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower is one of the great achievements of 20th Century Chicago architecture factory Skidmore Owings & Merrill. For many years the world’s tallest building, the Willis is the most recognizable and visually dominant buildings in the world’s greatest skyline.

4. Bank of China Tower

One of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers

Designed by 20th Century master I.M. Pei, the BOC Tower is simple, elegant, and iconic. As one of Hong Kong’s most recognizable buildings, the tower is an international symbol of the financial might and urbane sophistication of the trading hub.

3. Petronas Towers

One of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers

These handsome twin towers supplanted the Sears Tower from a years-long reign as the world’s tallest building, putting Kuala Lampur on the map for many otherwise naive international citizens. Designed by Cesar Pelli, the towers appear frequently in popular cinema, as their simple grace photographs marvelously.

2. The John Hancock Tower

One of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers

Though overshadowed by its South Loop neighbor, the Willis Tower, the Hancock epitomizes the power and grace of the Modern 20th Century skyscraper. Almost austere in its simplicity, the Hancock is a powerful counterpoint to anchor the north end of Chicago’s skyline.

1. CCTV Headquarters

One of the top ten architecturally significant skyscrapers

Brilliantly engineered and conceived, this post-Post-Modern interpretation of the traditional skyscraper wrapped on itself is the most easily recognizable landmark in Beijing, a spectacular building in a sea of often meritless spectacles. Designed by Rem Koolhaas of OMA, the tower is at once opulent and self-aware, an intelligent essay on the contradictions inherent in building such a politically and financially charged work in the heart of the world’s fastest growing economy.



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