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21 February 2024

High-cost high-rises: World's 10 most expensive skyscrapers

By Staff

All over the world, we are seeing gigantic high-rise projects coming into existence that try to outdo each other in height. It is not just in terms of their physical dimensions, however, that skyscrapers are constantly setting new records – the costs of the buildings, too, are continuously reaching new and dizzying heights.

The smartest designs and most sustainable concepts; luxurious and fancy features; the latest materials, technologies and systems – all this consumes astronomic sums in some cases. Emporis (www.emporis.com), the international provider of building data, has now compiled a list of the world's ten most expensive skyscrapers.

By some distance, the world's most expensive skyscraper is currently One World Trade Centre in New York City, which stands immediately beside the memorial for the Twin Towers, destroyed on September 11, 2001. Costing $3.9 billion (Dh14.32 billion), the building was designed to meet the latest safety standards and offers visitors a breath-taking view over Manhattan from an observation platform on the 100th floor.

While the first-placed skyscraper towers unchallenged above all the others, it is a head-to-head race for second place between The Palazzo, the extravagant luxury hotel in Las Vegas, and the winner of the Emporis Skyscraper Award for 2013, London's The Shard, each of which cost $1.9bn (Dh6.98bn).

Fourth place is taken by Taipei 101 in Taiwan. The unusual design of the $1.76bn office tower is based on the number eight, the Chinese lucky number, and was built entirely according to Feng Shui principles.

The construction of Burj Khalifa in Dubai was – surprisingly – not even half as expensive as the leader, One World Trade Centre. Although this record-breaking project holds the title of the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa only makes it into fifth place among the most expensive skyscrapers with a cost of $1.5bn (Dh5.5bn).

The World's Most Expensive Skyscrapers


Building Name

City, Country

Costs $




One World Trade Centre

New York City, USA



Skidmore, Owings & Merrill


The Palazzo

Las Vegas, USA



HKS, TSA of Nevada


The Shard

London, England



Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Adamson Associates


Taipei 101

Taipei, Taiwan



C.Y. Lee & Partners


Burj Khalifa

Dubai, UAE



Skidmore, Owings & Merrill


Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort

Huzhou, China



MAD, Shanghai Dai Architectural Design



Singapore, Singapore



Toyo Ito & Associates, RSP



Hamburg, Germany



Herzog & de Meuron, Kallmorgen & Partner


Bank of America Tower

New York City, USA



Cook+Fox Architects, Adamson Associates


Chifley Tower

Sydney, Australia



Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Source: Emporis.com

Equally costly, but comparatively small in size, is the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort in China. Its unique ring shape, which gives the luxury hotel the appearance of an outsize donut, presented a particular challenge to the architects and structural engineers, and catapulted it into equal fifth place in the list of the world's most expensive skyscrapers.

CapitaGreen, in seventh place, is especially notable for the greenery covering its facade and an imposing "sky forest" on its roof, which provides the offices in the 1.4-billion-dollar project with additional fresh air. The tenth-placed, one-billion-dollar Chifley Tower, on the other hand, has a giant hydraulic pendulum inside that ensures that the over 20-year-old building does not end up swaying too heavily.

The reasons for the immense costs of skyscrapers are varied in nature. With some buildings, it is known even at the planning stage that they will be cost-intensive, for instance in order to meet the latest environmental standards. Other projects, by contrast, become increasingly costly during construction itself due to unforeseen events or delays.

The Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg unquestionably belongs in this latter category; the cost of the mixed-use concert hall, whose completion is now projected for 2016, run to a billion dollars so far, earning it, even now, eighth place in the list of the world's most expensive skyscrapers.

Additional Information

1. One World Trade Center

● The heights of the observation decks match the heights of the original World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers and the tower’s footprint is equal to that of each of the original Twin Towers.

● The building has a dedicated firefighter staircase.

2. The Palazzo  

● On completion, it became the tallest high-rise building in Las Vegas.

● While under construction, The Palazzo was the setting for an early scene of the film Ocean’s Thirteen.

2. The Shard

● The building’s design has been described by the architect as resembling a sharp, crystal pyramid.

● The building’s facade is both double-skinned and ventilated, thus reducing solar gain whilst maximising light intake. In the “fractures” between the shards, opening vents provide natural ventilation to winter gardens.

4. Taipei 101    

● The tower's design specifications are based on the number "8", a lucky number in traditional Chinese culture. It features 8 upward-flaring sections, and is supported by 8 supercolumns.

● Most aspects of the design, layout and planning were reviewed and approved by a Feng Shui master.

5. Burj Khalifa 

● It is the tallest building in the world.

● The condensation water collected from the air conditioning system equals nearly 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools per year and is, in turn, used for irrigating landscaping.

5. Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort

● At night, the entire building is lit up brightly by both its interior and exterior lighting. The building is intended to resemble the bright moon rising above Lake Tai.

● The hotel’s ring shape enables all rooms to have balconies and views, and receive daylight from all directions.

7. CapitaGreen (under construction)

● The building will have a "sky forest" on the roof. The cool air produced there is sent down through an empty central core into the offices.

● More than half of the building facade will be covered with living green plants. The double-skin facade reduces solar heat gain in the building and serves as a greenhouse for the plants.

8. Elbphilharmonie (under construction)

● The design incorporates the former storage facility Kaispeicher A, which was gutted and its brick facade retained, along with the 1,111 concrete piles on which it stood. In order to bear the extra weight of the Elbphilharmonie, over 600 additional concrete piles were sunk into the River Elbe.

● The structure will include an observation plaza below the glassy superstructure which will be open to the general public.

9. Bank of America Tower

● It is the fourth tallest building in New York City.

● The environmentally-friendly design of the building features an automatic daylight dimming system and a greywater system that captures rainwater for reuse.

9. Chifley Tower

● To counteract the building sway in high winds, a giant steel block pendulum weighing 400 tonnes – suspended from eight 75mm diameter steel wires located near the top floor – is connected to a hydraulic dampened gravity system.

● The tower is named after former Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley.

All images courtesywww.dropbox.com