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2. Chicago Spire

Chicago, Illinois

Designer
Santiago Calatrava Height 2,000 feet Floors 150 Estimated Completion 2012

Chicago's 1730-foot-tall Sears Tower has enjoyed the title of tallest building in all of North America since 1973. It'll lose that title by 300 ft. with the completion of the twisty, turny, environmentally sustainable Chicago Spire.

Architect Santiago Calatrava, who designed the 2004 Olympic Games complex in Athens and the Turning Torso Tower in Sweden, is going for gold in Chicago:The gold of a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification that measures green design. To nail its targeted "gold", the Spire has an impressive list of Mother Nature*approved features: recycled rainwater to care for the landscaping, river water to help cool the building, a storage area for hundreds of bicycles, special glass to ward off migrating birds, planned park spaces and an underground parking structure that'll help save energy because it won't have to be air-conditioned.

The Spire's elegant, 2.44-degree twist rotates the building's facade a full 360 degrees, making what could have looked very odd come off as entirely natural.
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3. Federation Tower

Moscow, Russia

Designer
NPS Tchoban Voss Height 1,660 feet Floors 93 Estimated Completion 2009

The Federation Tower's distinct look is fashioned after the sails of a ship, and it's actually two towers, the 1660-foot East Tower and 795-foot-tall West, connected by several walkways. The taller East tower will be for offices, while the western one will be a hotel and apartments, both topped with 360-degree observation decks.

The building stands less than two and half miles away from the Kremlin, and when it's done it'll be the tallest building in all of Europe

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4. International Commerce Centre

West Kowloon, Hong Kong

Designer
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates Height 1,608 feet Floors 118 Estimated Completion 2010

How do you know your skyscraper is tall? When you have to shorten it because it violates regulations that don't permit towers to be taller than surrounding mountains. That's what happened to the International Commerce Centre: It was originally proposed to stand nearly 1900 ft., but had to be trimmed down to 1608 ft. to fall within regulations. It'll still be the tallest building in Hong Kong when it's complete, though not in all of China.

A full shopping mall inside the tower's basement is already in use. When the rest of the tower is done, it will house space for offices and hotel rooms. And not just any hotel: The Ritz-Carlton will have its entry lobby at 1400 ft. above the ground, making it the highest hotel in the world.


5. Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower

Guangzhou, China

Designer
Information Based Architecture Height 1,489 feet (2,001 feet measured by its needle) Floors 37 (and 2 floors underground) Estimated Completion End of 2009 (Image courtesy of Information Based Architecture)


The Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower arrives hot on the heels of China's Birds Nest, recently completed for the 2008 Olympic Games. Measured from its base to its needle, which juts out over 500 ft. above the structure's roof, the tower will stand an estimated 2001 ft. That'll make it the third tallest structure in the world, trailing behind the Burj Dubai and the KVLY-TV transmitting mast in Blanchard, North Dakota.

The Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower is a hyperboloid structure, meaning it draws its structural integrity from its shape, as an arch of an aqueduct or bridge does. At both its waist and the roof are open-air observation decks, and its scant 37 floors will be packed with revolving restaurants, art spaces, conferences halls, shops, a movie theater and, as its name suggests, broadcasting facilities.


6. Al Hamra Tower

Kuwait City, Kuwait

Designer
Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Height 1,352 feet Floors 77 (and 3 floors underground) Estimated Completion 2009

Anyone whose office has a window in the Al Hamra Tower will have a room with a view: The tower looks out over the whole of Kuwait City, as well as the Arabian Gulf. Looking at the tower from the outside will also offer quite the sight, as it's curving, veil-like "carved" shape is unlike any other skyscraper in its height range.

The Al Hamra Tower comes from a fine pedigree, as it's designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the architecture firm behind the Burj Dubai. It'll serve the city as an office building, accompanied by a five-story shopping plaza at its base with an 11-story parking garage that bridges to both the mall and tower. Just like the Bow, Al Hamra Tower is split into three zones by sky lobbies. When it's done, it'll be the tallest building in Kuwait City.


7. Sinosteel International Plaza

Tianjing, China

Designer
MAD Height 1,174 feet Floors N/A Estimated Completion 2012

What may look like a sick joke to reinforce the image of office workers as "busy bees" is actually the Sinosteel International Plaza's coolest feature. It's honeycomb exterior serves it in two key ways: As its load-bearing structure, and to help regulate the amount of light and heat enters the building. By using an alternating pattern of five different-size hexagonal windows, the Plaza's rooms will get plenty of sun while maintaining a comfortable temperature with less need for cooling in the summer and not as much heat loss in the winter. Alleviating the strain of cooling and heating a building several hundred feet tall will lower the building's energy costs significantly. Also, since the honeycomb structure acts as the building's support, that means there's no need for extensive internal infrastructure, giving more floor space over to other uses.

The Sinosteel International Plaza will be built next to a 288-foot-tall residential complex that utilizes the same honeycomb exterior.


8. Tower Verre (53W53rd)

New York

Designer
Jean Nouvel Height 1,155 feet Floors 75 Estimated Completion 2012 (Image courtesy of Hines)


When the Tower Verre was first proposed, it faced considerable opposition from Manhattanites because of its radical, angular design and the fact that it'd top the height of the 1046-foot-tall Chrysler Building. The Hines real estate firm has since gained approval for the building's air rights and construction on the steel-and-glass monolith is slated to begin next year.

When complete, the skyscraper will include gallery space that will serve as an expansion to New York City's Museum of Modern Art, with luxury apartments and hotel rooms on its uppermost floors. With the building's diamond-sharp twin spires, some argue that it will serve as an addition to the MoMA's collection as well.


9. Beekman Tower

New York

Designer
Frank Gehry Height 867 feet Floors 76 Estimated Completion 2011 (Image courtesy of Geto & de Milly, Inc. and Forest City Ratner Companies)


The Beekman Tower looks astonishingly mundane next to some of Frank Gehry's signature creations (just take a gander at his warped—and awesome—Dancing House in Prague). That is until you notice the little details. The Beekman Tower's stainless-steel surface ripples in a pleasant way thanks to the cascading layers of its staggered units. The curving of the exterior will make for irregular floors, and no two if its stories will be exactly the same.

Its facade is not its only charming quirk: It's being built upon a 6-story, brick public school that'll offer Pre-K through the 8th grade. The tower itself will house retail space, offices for the nearby New York Downtown Hospital and plenty of apartments of different sizes. Things are more staid inside, though. While Gehry designed the building's exterior, he didn't touch the interiors: "I don't like architecture that intrudes on lifestyle," Gehry told The Real Deal. "The generation of architects] before me used to design everything, and I don't like that."

10. The Bow

Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Designer
Foster + Partners Height 774 feet Floors 58 Estimated Completion 2011

The Bow gets its name from the tower's unique, curving shape. When it's completed it will be Calgary's first steel skyscraper, which means it'll use significantly less material, as a steel frame does away with the need for a multitude of weaker supports built into load-bearing walls. It will also be Calgary's tallest building, and the green-minded team at Fosters and Partners built it to be environmentally sustainable. Three sky lobbies spaced about 18 floors apart divide it into three zones for business, shopping and leisure, and a southward atrium spans the entirety of the Bow's facade, which will expose the inside to plenty of sun and help warm it during Canadian winters. Energy is also saved by the amount of light the Bow's heavily-windowed structure lets in, meaning more natural illumination and less of the artificial stuff.

While it won't even make the list of the 100 tallest buildings in the world at a modest 774 ft., The Bow still stands tall—and curved—as an example of environmentally-minded architecture.

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