Even as we write these very words, the amazing architects of this world are dreaming up ways to stretch concrete and steel high into the sky. Freudian, isn't it? But every time these architects try to out-build each other, the records are broken within minutes by some other lunatic builder halfway across the world.

But what are the tallest structures out there as of right now, (assuming that "right now" is March 7, 2000)? Some top ten lists leave out communications towers and only do buildings. Some lists do buildings, but will not include the huge-ass antennas sitting on top of a building as part of its height. These lists all stink. OUR list is a list of the top ten tallest buildings, structures, towers, antennas and whatever else has been built by human hands. This is the right way to do it.

So while we await the completion of such projects as the Daewoo Tower in Korea, the Shanghai World Financial Center, 7 South Dearborn in Chicago, the Maharishi Tower of World Peace in Brazil, and the Kowloon MTR Tower in Hong Kong, let us contemplate the very tall buildings that exist in the here and now.

1. BUILDINGS 10 - 8

10. Jin Mao Building

Height: 1378 feet
Location: Shanghai
Built: 1997

This concrete mix of hotel and office space was built to withstand the 125 mph winds common in Shanghai, as well as seismic activity on a Californian scale. But it is a building to which luck is as intrinsic as structural steel.

"Luck?" you ask. We will explain. The number "8" is lucky for the Chinese, so when building the Jin Mao, they tried to build 8s into the construction wherever possible:

  • The project was dedicated on 08/28/98
  • It is 88 stories tall
  • Each segment is 1/8th smaller than the 16-story base
  • Vertical elements include an octagonal-shaped core surrounded by 8 exterior composite columns and 8 exterior steel columns.
  • At the opening dinner, 8 eight-year old busboys brought in 8 octopuses to each member of the 8-person committee (alert readers will realize that we just made that last one up).

9. Menara Telecom Tower

Height: 1403 feet
Location: Kuala Lumpur
Built: 1996

The Menara Telecom Tower is perched atop a 3-level basement, a pedestrian mall featuring outlet shops, a mini-theater, an outdoor amphitheater, a fast-food restaurant, and a prayer room (perhaps for all of the poor janitorial crew who clean up this behemoth of a building). Over a million people flock to the Menara every year, a giant TV antenna with an observation deck. People should really look into getting a life.

8. Empire State Building

Height: 1454 feet
Location: New York
Built: 1931

The original construction took 775 days and cost $41 million. Renovations over the past six years have cost a total of over $67 million. It just goes to show that it's better to do it right the first time, or it could cost you more to fix than it did to build.

The famous observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors are not to be missed on any trip to the city. And yes, it was famous before King Kong vs. Sleepless in Seattle, holding the world record for "tallest building" for many years. As with most tourist attractions in New York, you'll have a bit of a wait before you can finally scream and curse your way up to the 104th floor. But the view is worth the wait, as some visitors have claimed to be able to see as far as the great pyramids of Egypt. (Note: those visitors tend to be liars. Or stockbrokers.)