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Top 10 world's tallest steel buildings

on Sep 27, 2010


Chicago's Willis Tower, the tallest steel building in the world. Photo: Getty
Chicago's Willis Tower, the tallest steel building in the world. Photo: Getty
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There was a time when building skyscrapers with steel as the main structural element was core to constructing exceptionally tall buildings.

It wasn’t until the 1960s however, when a vibrant young engineer of Bengali descent entered in to the fray and offered new systems designed to allow skyscrapers to reach new heights.

The late Fazlur Khan is considered the father of modern skyscraper design. His tubular structural engineering designs, first introduced while he was working at Skidmore Owings and Merill’s Chicago office, quickly transformed the city’s skyline. Most US buildings over 40-storeys constructed since the 1960s now use a tube design derived from Khan’s structural engineering principles.

There are three variations to Khan’s tube design which have been used to suit different structural requirements. The Framed Tube is the simplest and can be adapted to square, rectangular, circular and freeform shapes.

The Trussed Tube or Braced Tube design uses fewer and more widely spaced exterior columns which are tied together with external bracing, while the Bundled Tube consists of several buildings tied together to resist lateral forces.

The beauty of Khan’s tubular systems is that buildings can be constructed used steel or concrete, or a composite of the two to reach lofty heights. In fact, the Burj Khalifa – coincidentally designed by Skidmore Owings and Merill – uses a bundled tube design and a composite of steel and concrete to hit its record 828m height. Proportionally, the design uses half the amount of steel used in the construction of the Empire State Building thanks to the tubular system.

The following list has been drawn up using data gathered by the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. We've not counted current construction projects, or proposed buildings, nor have we included freestanding masts or towers - they are incuded in a list of their own.

We've also used the Council's definition for steel towers, where the main construction vertical and lateral structural elements and floor systems are constructed from steel.

As the construction industry is an ever evolving one, the list will change as more projects are completed over time.

 

The world's 10 tallest steel skyscrapers
Building Height Difference Country Overall world rank

442m
381m
346m
346m
344m
331m
330m
319m
319m
310m

-
61m
35m
=
2m
13m
1m
11m
=

9m
USA
USA
USA
China
USA
China
China
USA
USA
USA
8
14
21
22
23
26
27
31
33
37

Next: The Willis Tower, Chicago


FEATURED COMMENT

Feels like they are only interested in the iconic buildings?

  2 Comments


Readers' Comments


Marcellus Ramone Kelley (Aug 31, 2011)
Buffalo N.Y
USA

infra structure
Feels like they are only interested in the iconic buildings?

Tom (Sep 7, 2010)
Duibai
United Arab Emirates

Tallest Steel Buildings
Willis Tower is not the tallest. Taipei 101 is 509.2m is the world's tallest steel building. Ed Note: Not according to the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat on which the feature was based. The CTBUH defines its listed buildings as such: A steel tall building is defined as one where the main vertical and lateral structural elements and floor systems are constructed from steel. A concrete tall building is defined as one where the main vertical and lateral structural elements and floor systems are constructed from concrete. A composite tall building utilises a combination of both steel and concrete acting compositely in the main structural elements, thus including a steel building with a concrete core. The CTBUH states the Taipei 101 tower as of composite design, so is excluded from this list.


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