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The Tallest Buildings of the Future

Science, nature and the environment, with regard to human impact, are subjects to which Chris applies his passions for research and writing.

The Burj Khalifa has been the tallest building in the world since 2010.

The Burj Khalifa has been the tallest building in the world since 2010.

The Rapid Growth of Skyscrapers

I’ve been working on a mixed-genre short story lately. The science fiction suspense thriller required me to research skyscrapers of the future. I found they broke into two categories. One is those with actual start dates for completion. The other list is made up of strictly speculative structures.

I guess I’ve lost touch with which building is the tallest in the world and how tall it actually is. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I stood on the observation deck of the Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower, in Chicago. At 1,450 feet (442.1 meters) with 108 floors, it was the tallest building in the world, a title it held from 1973 to 1998.

I was surprised to see how far we have come and how tall artificial structures have grown. Since 2010, the tallest building in the world has been the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which is 2,717 feet (829.8 meters) with 163 floors.

Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tallest Buildings in the World since 1998

NameLocationYears as TallestHeightFloors

Petronas Towers

Kuala Lumpur


1483 feet (452 meters)


Taipei 101



1671 feet (509.3 meters)


Burj Khalifa



2717 feet (828.1 meters)


Future Building Materials for Skyscrapers

Changes in the materials used in constructing these buildings enable us to build ever higher.

  • Elevator Rope – In the past, steel rope was the material of choice to lift elevators in skyscrapers. But beyond 1600 feet (about 500 meters), steel rope is simply too heavy. Carbon fiber rope is coming to the rescue. Carbon fiber, reinforced with resins, is one-seventh the weight of steel rope. Carbon fiber rope does not stretch and is resistant to wear. Another concept for elevators is magnetic levitation or maglev, which would allow vertical, diagonal and horizontal movement.
  • Nonmetallic Composite materials – Carbon fiber, fiberglass, and other structural plastics are lightweight and stronger than conventional materials. Eventually, steel girders and welding will be a thing of the past.
  • Glue – These nonmetallic composites can be glued together. We already build aircraft and automobiles this way, so why not our buildings, including skyscrapers?
  • Plastic components would be replaceable for repairing or redesigning the tower.

The tallest buildings in the future will likely appear and feel similar to traditional skyscrapers. The reality will be that these structures will change how humanity builds everything. Our own homes may become lighter weight and much more conducive to remodeling.

Jeddah Tower Under Construction

Jeddah Tower: The Next Tallest Building in the World

Jeddah Tower has been under construction since April 1, 2013, and had an original completion date of 2020. However, issues with contractors and the Covid-19 pandemic have virtually stopped construction. Although the tower's website claims that it will be completed, it's not entirely clear at this time whether this is the case.

The anticipated height of the structure is 3,307 feet (1008 meters). Once completed, it will be the first skyscraper over 1,000 meters, beating the current record holder, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, by over 590 feet (180 meters).

Floor has been added on top of floor. The structure has risen by the use of cranes which are hoisted to new levels on the building. When construction is finished, these cranes will lower one another until all that remains is this amazing monument to man's ingenuity and his desire to reach higher.

Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2009.

Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2009.

Future Skyscrapers With Dates for Completion (Construction Not Started)

How high might we go with skyscrapers? First, let's take a look at skyscrapers that are being planned and have a target date for completion. Then we will look at those which are still speculative but receiving serious consideration.

  • Mubarak al-Kabir Tower – First proposed in 2007, this tower is to be built in Madinat al-Hareer, Kuwait. Its height will be 3284 feet (1,001 meters). With an original completion date of 2026, it looks like this tower will take much longer to finish than originally anticipated.
  • Azerbaijan Tower – (Edit: Project canceled) First proposed in 2012, this tower was to be built in Baku, Azerbaijan. Its height would have been 3,440 feet (1,050 meters) with a completion date in 2019.
  • Edison Tower – First proposed in 2015, this tower is to be built in New York City. Its height will be 4,300 feet (1,310 meters) with a completion date in 2030.
  • Sky Mile Tower – First proposed in 2015, this tower is to be built in Tokyo, Japan. Its height will be 5,577 feet (1,700 meters), with a completion date in 2045.

Tokyo Sky Mile Tower

The Illinois One Mile Tower (Proposed 2050), Chicago

Skyscrapers of Pure Speculation

Here they are, the buildings of science fiction being seriously considered. From shortest to tallest, here is what we might expect in the not so distant future.

  • Times Squared 3015-New York City. Height-5,686 feet (1,733 meters).
  • Millennium Challenge Tower-Kuwait. Height-6,076 feet (1,852 meters).
  • The Dutch Mountain-(Artificial mountain). Flevoland, The Netherlands. Height-6,600 feet (2,000 meters).
  • Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid-Tokyo, Japan. Height-6,575 feet (2,004 meters). Would be the largest manmade structure, by cubic feet, on Earth.
  • Dubai City Tower-Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Height-7,900 feet (2,400 meters).
  • Ultima Tower-San Francisco, USA. Height-10,558 feet (3,218 meters).
  • X-Seed 4000-Tokyo, Japan. Height-13,000 feet, (4,000 meters).

Other Structures, Not Skyscrapers

There are other proposed structures that are either transport systems or tethers. These would range from 12 miles (20,000 meters) to 62,000 miles (100,000,000 meters). Their uses will range from space elevator to orbital launch and will service space tourism, colonization, and exploration.

Why Build Higher?

I don't know how that strikes you, but it leaves my head spinning. Within my lifetime, and I'm 60 years old, we could see the first, mile high skyscraper. What is the purpose of building ever higher? The world's population is now 7.5 billion and is anticipated to be 9.7 billion by 2050, only 33 years away. As cities grow, land will become even more scarce. Building higher, rather than wider, seems to be the driving force behind the never-ending race for the tallest building in the world.

There are other factors at play that are important to consider as well. For example, megatall structures are part of the smarter use of space in dense cosmopolitan centers. They also have a potentially positive environmental impact for various reasons and help address housing shortages.

The Top Ten Tallest Buildings in the World, 2010 to 2050

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Chris Mills


Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on July 08, 2017:

Always a source of interest.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 05, 2017:

Tim, you mentioned elevators. The Tokyo Sky Mile Tower will feature vertical and horizontal elevators since the tower will be built in individual pods that are connected. I think you are correct about cultures within these structures. If cities move in this direction, society will change. In fact, cities will be made up of multiple tower-cities.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 05, 2017:

Bill, I didn't want to let all that research go to waste, so I came up with this. I'm with you. Big cities and crowds aren't my cup of tea. Even though most of my jobs keep me in big cities, I break out every weekend and hide in the trees, lakes, and rivers till the last minute. Good to see you, Bill.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 04, 2017:

Eric, I know what you mean. I love tall buildings too. 6 feet t

all? I've always thought you were a giant of a man, but that would be true if you were 4 feet tall.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on July 04, 2017:

John, what this means is that within yours and my potential lifetimes, there could be a one-mile-high building. The sixty-foot silo on our farm, when I was growing up, seemed to be so tall. I remember the feeling of vertigo when I had to climb the outside.

I'm in the process of rewriting about half a dozen of my short stories for possible publication in online magazines. The first one is already submitted to Azimov's Science Fiction. It grew from 6600 words to about 12,000. The second one is nearly finished.

It's good to see you and others, here again, John. I've mentioned before that I am not a multitasker. I dive into a project like this and it consumes me. I get the feeling I'm not alone in that regard.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on July 03, 2017:

A wonderful collection of the information. Now skyscrapers have become a part of our lifestyles. In my childhood (when I was 15 years or so), I stood on the top of a 14-floor building, The LIC Building in Chennai and was proud to have that accomplishment in my credit.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 03, 2017:

I want to say "Ridiculous" but that just reveals my limited mentality, I think. These buildings are scary, but "Marvelous" maybe more appropriate. Thanks for the views.

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on July 03, 2017:

Very, very interesting Chris! My head is spinning wondering about the cultures embedded within a tower. I know people who have never stepped foot outside of their town. I am imagining people who never leave those buildings having all the amenities needed to live life. 55,000 people is a lot of people. Note: The idea of dependence on elevators is daunting to me considering a trust factor.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 03, 2017:

Just one more reason for me to live in a small city. I'm not a big building sort of guy....or a crowd sort of guy for that matter.....but the article was interesting, Chris!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 03, 2017:

Heck I am six foot, I figure that is tall enough ;-) This was so interesting. We had one building with an elevator when I grew up in my small town. My son loves it when we just cruise downtown now. He is a high rise junky. When I moved to San Diego there were only 4. How fast can you run up 30 floors?

Thanks for sharing this buddy. I took about 30 minutes to walk up the Empire State building. I just love tall buildings.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on July 03, 2017:

This was so very interesting, Chris. It is hard to believe these buildings are just getting taller and taller..unreal. Great photos too. Good luck with your latest story.