The strides humans have made in architecture and engineering over the last fifty years has been nothing short of amazing. Although the folks of years past deserve all the credit for setting the foundation and giving us the blueprint for constructing some of the most incredible landmarks ever created, the people of today are taking it a level that is hard to imagine at times.

It was only a mere twenty years ago that the Willis Tower in Chicago was the tallest building in the world. Since then, in the past two decades, twenty buildings have surpassed it, dropping it down to the 21st tallest. What’s even more incredible is the height these new towers have been able to reach during that span. When the Willis Tower held the crown, that meant the world’s tallest building was 1,450 feet tall. Today, that figure is at 2,717. Let that sink in. It’s almost doubled what was already a massive structure to begin with. We are moving at a rapid pace when it comes to engineering these modern marvels of the world.

At one time, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure ever built, but today would be dwarfed by the buildings that have risen over the last few decades, making the Paris icon seem like child’s play by comparison. This is astounding when you consider the Eiffel Tower is well over a thousand feet tall, making it a pretty giant structure in its own right. This is a testament to how quickly we have been able to learn and improve in the world of architecture while also showing our desire to always best ourselves no matter how much we have accomplished.

It seems like each year a new tower goes up surpassing the last one and make no mistake, it isn’t ending any time soon with more on the horizon looking to overtake the tallest of today. Here are the world’s current fifteen tallest buildings and five more about to overtake them! It’s important to note that this list is limited to buildings defined as habitable space and excludes technical towers which can be antenna or structures like Toronto’s CN Tower.

We'll start with the 15 tallest, then round off with the behemoths of the future.

20 #1 - Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE – 2,717 Feet

Built in 2010, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa has been the tallest building in the world for nearly a decade. When it went up, it passed the Taipei 101 as the tallest by over 1,000 feet, enough to fit some of the tallest buildings ever built between them! Today, it is nearly 650 feet taller than the building listed at number two, proving just how massive the Burj Khalifa truly is at 2,717 feet.

There simply are no pictures that can truly do it the justice it deserves as it dwarfs anything in its surroundings. The building’s appearance is also unique with a base that is massive in size, necessary to support the thousands of feet of steel that thin out the higher it goes, ultimately forming a spire that stretches into the clouds.

19 #2 - Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China – 2,073 Feet

Shanghai Tower was completed in 2015 and holds the record for being the tallest tower constructed without ever holding the title of tallest in the world, at a whopping 2,073 feet.

To put this in perspective, you could nearly stack two Eiffel Towers on top of one another to match China’s biggest behemoth. The building isn’t just a giant, but a beautiful one with a unique design that includes a stunning curvature, giving the appearance of a rotating tower. It also has the fastest elevators in the world at 46 miles per hour and the highest observation deck as well. In a country that has become the capital of buildings, home to eight of the fifteen tallest in the world, Shanghai Tower is king… for now.

18 #3 - Abraj Al-Bait Clock Tower, Mecca, Saudi Arabia – 1,971 Feet

Probably the most unique of all buildings listed, Saudi Arabia’s Abraj Al-Bait Clock Tower is definitely different than anything the world has ever seen. At nearly 2,000 feet, it is the third tallest tower in the world, but what makes this building so compelling is its functionality. It is actually a complex made up of several connected towers, most of which are five star hotels, with the tallest reaching its incredible height, overlooking the city.

The building gets its name from the clock face that sits atop its tallest tower which is also the largest clock in the world at a whopping 141 feet across.

17 #4 - Ping An Finance Centre, Shenzhen, China – 1,966 Feet

Completed only last year, China’s Ping An Finance Centre came up a mere six feet short of passing Saudi Arabia’s Clock Tower for third tallest in the world. What makes this building so impressive is that its entire height is based on habitable space without relying on any spire to add to its length.

There were plans to add a spire to the top of the building to get it to second highest in the world behind only the Burj Khalifa, but the idea was ultimately scrapped because of the hazard it posed to flying planes above the busy city of Shenzhen.

16 #5 - Lotte World Tower, Seoul, South Korea – 1,819 Feet

Coming in at fifth on the list of world’s tallest is South Korea’s Lotte World at an astounding 1,819 feet. It’s pretty mind-boggling to think that a tower at that height isn’t the tallest ever, but the city of Seoul will have to be content with their multi-purpose building.

The tower is sectioned into different uses such as office space, residential apartments, a hotel and private offices. The tower’s sleek and slim design helps add to the already massive look it has on the city’s skyline.

15 #6 - One World Trade Center, New York City, USA – 1,776 Feet

The Western Hemisphere makes its first appearance on the list with New York City’s Freedom Tower, part of the World Trade Center complex being built to replace the original twin towers that went down on September 11 of 2001. This is a testament to the dominance of Asia which holds the top five spots as well as the other fourteen in the top fifteen, making Freedom Tower the lone entry of any country on this side of the world.

At 1,776 feet, a symbolic number, marking the year of the United States’ independence, the Freedom Tower is an awe-inspiring, beautiful blue tower in Lower Manhattan which stands over the bay with its incredible spire adding to its massive girth.

14 #7 - Guangzhou CTF Finance Center, Guangzhou, China – 1,739 Feet

Completed in 2016, the Guangzhou CTF Finance Center is tied for the seventh tallest tower in the world and third tallest in China. Although this building sits behind New York City’s World Trade Center Freedom Tower, it is actually much taller when considering only habitable space as it does not contain a spire of any sort.

By comparison, Freedom Tower has a 408 feet spire that adds to its height, but without it, Guangzhou CTF Finance Center would be taller by 371 feet. The structure is home to a shopping mall at ground level as well as offices, apartments and a hotel.

13 #8 - Tianjin CTF Finance Centre, Tianjin, China – 1,739 Feet

Although this tower is not quite finished yet, it is on the verge of completion any day now in 2018, so it gets a pass and makes our list as it’s pretty much a reality and already towering over the city of Tianjin, China.

By completion, this tower will tie the previous entry and sister tower in neighboring Guangzhou at 1,739 feet. The building’s façade is a blue glass and is nearing completion with only the tip of the building still looking like a construction zone while the rest of it already appears in all its intended beauty.

12 #9 - China Zun, Beijing, China – 1,732 Feet

Completed as recently as a month ago in August of 2018, the China Zun topped out at 1,732 feet, making it the tallest building in Beijing, the fifth tallest in China and the ninth tallest in the world. Over half the building is occupied by office space with the remaining area designated for residential homes and hotel rooms. The top floor consists of a beautiful rooftop garden, peering over the tower’s unusual but striking shape.

The base starts off massive and begins to thin out the higher the building goes and then begins to expand back to the size of the base towards the roof making for a captivating architectural feat.

11 #10 - Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan – 1,667 Feet

The oldest building on our list at a mere 14 years old, the Taipei 101 proves how quickly the world of architecture is changing in recent years. Once the tallest in the world after surpassing the Petronas Twin Towers of Malaysia, Taipei 101 held the record for only six years before being passed by the current record holder and has since been passed by eight other structures in such a short period of time. The tower is famous for its distinct style as a nod to Asian art, reminiscent of historic and traditional designs of Taiwanese culture with a modern twist.

10 #11 - Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai, China – 1,614 Feet

The only city with two buildings in the top fifteen tallest in the world is Shanghai with the Shanghai World Financial Center at 1,614 feet tall and the previously listed second tallest in the world, Shanghai Tower.

The Shanghai World Financial Center was passed as the tallest in the city only five years and was China’s tallest building from 2008 to 2013. This building actually sits in the same complex as Shanghai Tower which makes for a breathtaking view of a skyline that will be hard to ever compete with.

9 #12 - International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong, China – 1,588 Feet

Hong Kong’s tallest tower at 1,588 feet is also the twelfth tallest in the world. The International Commerce Centre is another building that impresses because of its habitable space and exclusion of a spire with the fifth most floors of any building in the world.

The tower primarily serves as an office building, but also has the five star Ritz Carlton on its top sixteen floors. At the top of the hotel sit the world’s highest swimming pool and bar, on the 118th floor, making this luxury tower a popular place for a getaway.

8 #13 - Lakhta Center, St. Petersburg, Russia – 1,516 Feet

The Lakhta Center is the tallest building in Russia at an incredible 1,516 feet, serving as a mixed-use tower. Consisting of retail space, exhibition areas, offices, and restaurants, the Lakhta Center is primarily used for business, but has other occupants beyond that realm.

The building was built with a control system that helps regulate the temperature of the façade, accounting for the extreme cold winters that Russia can experience, allowing for the exterior to heat itself, helping neutralize any hazards presented by the climate.

The building’s exterior has been heralded as one of the more elegant and beautiful on the list with its oblique shape, topping out into a spire.

7 #14 - Landmark 81, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – 1,513 Feet

Vietnam makes its way onto the list with the world’s fourteenth tallest with Landmark 81, a mere three feet shorter than Russia’s Lakhta Center. Only recently completed a couple months ago in July of 2018, its primary use is residential homes and hotel space. With this building serving as a livable space, it also comes with bars, pools and high-end restaurants.

It has been said that the exterior of Landmark 81 resembles Chicago’s Willis Tower in many ways, although it does have its own distinct feel.

6 #15 - Changsha IFS Tower T1, Changsha, China – 1,483 Feet

The only tower to come in under 1,500 feet on the list is the fifteenth tallest in the world, China’s Changsha IFS Tower T1. Interestingly, the Tower T1 portion of its name refers to the fact that it is the first tower in a complex of sister towers, with T2 only steps away. Changsha IFS Tower T1 is the only one of the two to make this list because its peer tower is significantly shorter by over 300 feet.

The tower serves primarily as an office building but includes a mall at its base, the largest in the city.

5 Coming Soon: Jeddah Tower, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – 3,307 Feet

Already boasting the third tallest building in the world, Saudi Arabia is looking to make its unmistakable mark in the world of architecture in the city of Jeddah. It plans to erect the Jeddah Tower, which will top out at an incredible 3,307 feet.

This would quite easily make this the tallest structure ever built by humans, surpassing the behemoth Burj Khalifa by an astounding 590 feet.

The tower is currently under construction and is set to be completed by 2020. The original desire was for the Jeddah Tower to be the first ever mile high structure ever built, but that has been scaled down to a more reasonable and realistic kilometer high goal, which is still a hard number to grasp.

Here is an image of the concept design of what the finished tower should look like once done, stretching far above the clouds.

4 Coming Soon: Suzhou Zhongnan Center, Suzhou, China – 2,392 Feet

Set to be completed by 2020, the Suzhou Zhongnan Center started construction in 2014. Upon completion, the building will stand at an incredible 2,392 feet which would make it the third tallest structure in the world and the tallest in all of China, surpassing the Shanghai Tower by 319 feet.

Suzhou Zhongnan Center will serve as a multi-use building with office space, high-end residential suites and a hotel. The tower will also have a jaw-dropping 93 elevators in use when finished. The concept art above shows the elegance China is going for with their biggest and newest toy.

3 Coming Soon: Dubai One Tower, Dubai, UAE – 2,333 Feet

Not to be outdone, Dubai will continue on its path toward dominance in the world of buildings. Although China and Saudi Arabia, as countries, can boast of their numerous towers, no other city can stack up to what Dubai’s skyline will have once One Tower is done. At 2,333 feet tall, it will join the Burj Khalifa as two of the four tallest buildings in the world within blocks of one another. Once completed, it will serve as high end living space only, making it the tallest residential building ever constructed.

The design of Dubai One Tower will make it an engineering wonder unlike any other ever seen because of its small height to width ratio, never before achieved on such a grand scale.

2 Coming Soon: PNB 118, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 2,113 Feet

Currently under construction since January 2018, the PNB 118 will be the fifth tallest building in the world and the tallest in Malaysia surpassing the Petronas Towers, by over 600 feet, which can be seen off in the distance of this concept design. The tower’s design has already been lauded for its magnificent beauty and unique style and shape, many of which say it resembles a giant, elongated diamond.

PNB 118 will include a Park Hyatt hotel occupying the top seventeen floors of the building as well as office space and residential homes.

1 Coming Soon: Signature Tower Jakarta, Jakarta, Indonesia – 2,093 Feet

Estimated for completion in 2022, the Signature Tower Jakarta will be the sixth tallest skyscrap

er in the world at 2,093 feet tall. The building will be office and residential space in the heart of Jakarta, making it Indonesia’s tallest by a significant margin. The city’s susceptibility to seismic activity has led to extremely careful and timely planning with engineers working to ensure the foundation and base of the tower are able to withstand the strongest forces created by earthquakes.

The city believes the building will help usher in a new era of advanced and modern technological society in Jakarta, which can be seen in this image of the design.