The world’s most expensive skyscrapers

4 December 2020 (Last Updated December 4th, 2020 16:38)

The US has three of the world’s seven most expensive skyscrapers, while China and South Korea have two each. The world’s most expensive skyscraper complex ever built, however, is in Abraj Al-Bait, Saudi Arabia, which cost more than $15bn. Designbuild Network lists the world’s top skyscrapers based on the total cost of construction.

The world’s most expensive skyscrapers
Designbuild Network lists the top six skyscrapers in the world by cost of construction. Image courtesy of Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

The US has three of the world’s seven most expensive skyscrapers, while China and South Korea have two each. The world’s most expensive skyscraper complex ever built, however, is in Abraj Al-Bait, Saudi Arabia, which cost more than $15bn.

Design-Build Network lists the world’s top skyscrapers based on the total cost of construction.

Top skyscrapers in the world: the most expensive

1. One World Trade Center – $4bn

2. China Zun – $3.35bn

3. One Vanderbilt – $3.2bn

4. Lotte World Tower – $3.18bn

5. Central Park Tower – $3bn

6. Haeundae LCT The Sharp Landmark Tower – $2.64bn

7. Shanghai Tower – $2.54bn

1. One World Trade Center – $4bn

most expensive skyscrapers
Opened in 2014, One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Image courtesy of Shaun Jeffers/Shutterstock.

Built on the site of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001, One World Trade Center in New York City, US, was opened in 2014.

The 541m-high, 104-storey building with a total floor area of 3.5 million square feet was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and constructed by Tishman Construction. Also known as Freedom Tower, it comprises commercial and office spaces.

Rising from a cubic base, the tower has a faceted form comprising eight elongated isosceles triangles. The hybrid concrete-and-steel structure with a large concrete core is octagonal at the middle. More than 95% of the steel used in the construction of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold-certified building is recycled.

2. China Zun – $3.35bn

the world's most expensive skyscrapers
China Zun was previously known as Z15 Tower. Image courtesy of linlypu/Shutterstock.

Also known as CITIC Tower, China Zun is a mixed-use building located in Chaoyang District, Beijing, China. Developed by the CITIC Group, it was completed in 2018 at a cost of $3.35bn. The 528m-tall skyscraper is the tallest building in Beijing and among the tallest in the world.

The tower houses multiple offices, including the headquarters of the CITIC Group and CITIC Bank. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, it has 109 storeys with a gross floor area of 4.6 million square feet.

Located in the centre of Beijing’s central business district, CITIC Tower has approximately 332,000m² Grade A office facilities and an observation deck at the top. China Zun’s shape is based on the Chinese wine vessel known as ‘zun’ while the outward curve at the top resembles Kǒngmíng lanterns. The curve maximises the floor area at the top of the tower and ensures structural stability at the base.

Advanced technologies such as building information modelling (BIM) technology and digital modelling were used in the design and development of the super-tall building.

3. One Vanderbilt – $3.2bn

costliest skyscrapers
Designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, One Vanderbilt was opened in September 2020. Image courtesy of HeartlessMind.

One Vanderbilt is a 427m-tall, 1.7 million square feet supertall skyscraper located immediately west of Grand Central Terminal in midtown Manhattan, New York City, US. It is jointly owned by SL Green Realty, South Korea’s National Pension Service, and Hines.

Opened in September 2020, One Vanderbilt serves as the headquarters for multiple firms in finance, banking, law, and real estate industries. The design features four interlocking and tapering planes spiralling toward the sky and a terracotta facade that provides a natural setting.

The tower is incorporated with sustainability features such as cogeneration and rainwater collection systems, as well as the use of recycled materials to achieve LEED certification.

Designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, it has a public transit hall at the base, a 14,000ft² public plaza, more than 1.5 million square feet of new Class A office space and 104,323ft² of new retail space. A 28,000ft² observation deck spans floors 57, 58 and 59 of the 77-storey tower.

4. Lotte World Tower – $3.18bn

top skyscrapers based on construction cost
Lotte World Tower is a 555m-tall mixed-use building spanning 5.43 million square feet. Image courtesy of Ox1997cow.

The 555m-high Lotte World Tower is located in Seoul, South Korea, spans 5.43 million square feet and has 123 storeys. It was officially completed in April 2017.

The mixed-use building has office space, residential units, retail space, cultural facilities, and a seven-star luxury hotel. Public use and entertainment facilities, including an observation deck and rooftop café occupy the top ten stories. SKY31 CONVENTION in the building is the tallest convention complex in the country.

The tapered form and the curvature of the tower are inspired by Korean artistry. The LEED Gold-certified building features photovoltaic panels, external shading devices, wind turbines, and water harvesting systems. The tower is owned by Lotte Group and designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and Baum Architects.

5. Central Park Tower – $3bn

costliest skyscrapers
Central Park Tower is located along Billionaire’s Row in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Image courtesy of Extell Development Company.

The world’s tallest residential tower, Central Park Tower is located on 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Designed by Extell and Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the tower is 472.44m-high and has 131 storeys.

Developed by Extell Development Company, the skyscraper achieved topping out in September 2019 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. With a gross floor area of 1.28 million square feet, it will include 179 ultra-luxury condominium residences and a 26,500m², seven-storey Nordstrom flagship department store.

The residences range from one to four bedrooms and are available as studio suites, full-floor, as well as duplex and triplex homes. The tower also includes Central Park Club, a private club with approximately 50,000ft² of luxury accommodation spanning three floors.

The transparent facade is designed to allow natural light inside the department store. The tower design includes glass above the base with stainless steel and zinc fins, offering views of the Central Park and the greater city.

6. Haeundae LCT The Sharp Landmark Tower – $2.64bn

costliest skyscrapers
Haeundae LCT The Sharp in Busan, South Korea, comprises three buildings. Image courtesy of Jens-Olaf Walter.

The 411m-tall Haeundae LCT The Sharp in Busan, South Korea, consists of a 101-storey landmark tower and two 85-storey residential apartments. The landmark tower is 411m-high, while the remaining two towers are respectively 339m and 333m.

The landmark tower consists of luxury and residential hotels, a convention centre and an observatory. It includes a 561-room residence hotel and a 260-room six-star tourist hotel operated by Lotte Hotels & Resorts.

Completed in 2019, LCT The Sharp features an entertainment complex at the base including a shopping mall and a water park. The second tallest building in South Korea after the Lotte World Tower, it was constructed by POSCO Engineering & Construction with a total built-up area of 7.1 million square feet. It was built with a system resistant to wind and salt to protect it from strong winds and corrosion, respectively.

7. Shanghai Tower – $2.54bn

most expensive skyscrapers
Shanghai Towers is one of the most sustainable skyscrapers in the world. Image courtesy of Vladimir ZH/Shutterstock.

Rising 632m, the 121-storey Shanghai Tower is located in the heart of the Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone in Shanghai, China. It is a mixed-used building with a floor area of more than four million ft².

Completed in 2015, the $2.54bn tower was designed by Gensler and developed by Shanghai Tower Construction and Development. It includes office space, retail and entertainment facilities, a luxury hotel, conference centre, as well as cultural areas. Stores and restaurants occupy the podium zone while offices are located in the middle zone and the hotel in the top section.

The spiral-shaped tower has a double facade with sky lobbies, which provide public spaces equipped with vegetation, allowing people to socialise. It is designed as a green building with a LEED Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council. Green solutions incorporated in the building include a double-layer curtain wall, a wind-turbine system, wastewater recycling for internal use, a combined cooling and heating power system, and efficient LED lighting.

Advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and BIM were used in the design and construction. The tower also has a building control system, energy monitoring systems, as well as an intelligent building management system.