The CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, is the world's highest freestanding building, towering at 1,815 feet (553 m). Except for a café and observation deck positioned at 1,100 feet, the tower was built to hold a television antenna and is not intended for human occupancy (335 m).
The Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois, is the second-highest office building in the United States, surpassed by One World Trade Center in New York City. It is also the third-tallest building in the country after Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago and Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia. The Willis Tower has 49 floors above ground and an additional four stories buried in the basement.
When it was completed in 1990, the CN Tower was the highest building in North America until it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2009. The Willis Tower is the highest building in the Western Hemisphere.
The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, are both 1,483 feet (450 m) high with 57 floors each. They are the tallest buildings in Southeast Asia.
In addition, 1,454 feet (443 m) and 1,728 feet (527 m), respectively, - the height of two stacked Chrysler Buildings - have been measured between the upper floors of other famous buildings such as the Empire State Building, the Pinnacle Center, the Vincent Thomas Bridge, and Harbor Bridge.
There are currently just three such structures: the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which stands at 2,717 feet and was finished in 2010, the Shanghai Tower, which was completed in 2015 in Shanghai, China, and sits at 2,073 feet, and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower, which stands at 1,972 feet. Additional buildings are under construction or planned for Tokyo, Japan, and New York City.
The tallest building on Earth is now also the highest occupied building, thanks to the rise of skyscraping luxury developments in major cities around the world. The current record holder is the Burj Khalifa, but two other buildings are close behind it. Tokyo's new Tokyo Sky Tree will be 2,722 feet when it opens its doors in 2020, while New York City's Trump Tower will be 2,451 feet when it is complete in 2009.
These are not typical office buildings - they're luxury hotels with hundreds of rooms. And they're not being used as housing - they'll remain that way even after their builders start selling them off. They're meant to be admired from below via elevator or stairway, and from above using the hotel's viewing platforms.
The need for such towering structures arises because the higher you go, the faster you reach altitude-related benefits like increased air pressure and colder temperatures. At some point, though, these advantages become diminishing returns because they can be obtained just as easily by going down rather than up.
The CN Tower held the record for the highest building, tower, or freestanding structure for nearly three decades. It is still the highest structure in the Western Hemisphere. Over the years, Guinness World Records have featured the World's Tallest Free-standing Structure (1975). The CN Tower was also listed under several other categories including the Lightest Building Material (steel), and most radio antennas from one structure (473).
Construction on the CN Tower began on May 14, 1976 and it was completed four years later on October 30, 1980. At the time of its opening, it was the fastest rising building in the world. The Tower has since been surpassed in height by many structures both inside and outside Canada. Today, it is ranked as the sixth tallest building in Canada and the 38th tallest in the world.
The CN Tower is a hybrid construction designed to incorporate the features of a skyscraper and a tower block. It consists of a core containing parking floors, an elevator core, and a number of upper floors that are not accessible by public stairways. This central section is surrounded by four smaller peripheral blocks each with 22 floors of rental apartments. There are also six levels of underground parking available for rent. The total area of the complex is about 12,000 square meters (130,000 sq ft) with a maximum height of 468 meters (1563 feet).