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The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) is an international body in the field of tall buildings and sustainable urban design. A not-for-profit organization based at the Illinois Institute of Technologymarker in the city of Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker, the CTBUH announces the title of ‘The World’s Tallest Building’ and is an authority on the official height of tall buildings. Its stated mission is to study and report "on all aspects of the planning, design, and construction of tall buildings." The Council was founded at Lehigh Universitymarker in 1969, where its office remained until October 2003, when it moved to the Illinois Institute of Technologymarker in Chicago.

Ranking tall buildings

The CTBUH ranks the height of buildings using three different methods:

  • 1. Height to architectural top of the building. This is the main criterion under which the CTBUH ranks the height of buildings. Heights are measured from the level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the top of the building, inclusive of spires but excluding items such as flag poles or antennas.
  • 2. To highest occupied floor: Height to the floor of the highest occupied floor of the building.
  • 3. To tip of spire/antenna: Height to the tip of spire, pinnacle, antenna, mast or flag pole.

A category measuring to the top of the roof was removed from the ranking criteria in November 2009. This is because flat-topped skyscrapers are not as common in the modern era as skyscrapers with intricate spire designs and parapet features atop their roofs, making it more difficult to define a roof on a building.

Tallest database

The CTBUH maintains an extensive database of the tallest buildings in the world, organized by various categories. Buildings under construction are also included, although not ranked until completion. The CTBUH also produces an annual list of the ten tallest buildings completed in that particular year. Topping the 2008 list was the Shanghai World Financial Centermarker in Shanghai, currently the tallest building in the world to the highest occupied floor and home to the world's highest observation deck. Second on the 2008 list was the Almas Towermarker in Dubaimarker, third was the Minsheng Bank Buildingmarker in Wuhanmarker which stands at , whilst fourth was The Address Downtown Burj Dubaimarker ( ). All in all, six of the ten tallest buildings completed in 2008 are located in Asia, three in the Middle East and one in North America.


The CTBUH also hosts annual conferences and a World Congress every three to five years. The most recent World Congress was held in Dubaimarker between 3 and 5 March 2008 and was attended by delegates from 43 countries.

The CTBUH also bestows Tall Building Awards each year, with four regional awards to the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and Asia and Australasia. Among these four regional awards, one is given the "Best Tall Building Award Overall." There are also two lifetime achievement awards.


In addition to the monthly newsletter and daily updated global news archive, the CTBUH publishes a tri-annual CTBUH Journal. The Journal includes peer-reviewed technical papers, in-depth project case studies, book reviews, interviews with prominent persons in the tall building industry, and much more.

The CTBUH also publishes guidebooks, reference manuals, and monographs related to the tall building industry. In 2006 it published the book 101 of the World’s Tallest Buildings in conjunction with author and CTBUH member Georges Binder, a reference to 101 of the world’s tallest skyscrapers. It includes photos, plans, details on architects, engineers and stakeholders, and comprehensive technical data on each building.


The CTBUH works with institutions of higher-education from around the world in researching projects related to tall building design.


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