Hamburg-based architectural data company Emporis has compiled a list of the world’s 10 most expensive skyscrapers, with Sydney’s Chifley Tower by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates coming in tenth at a cost of $1 billion.

Named after former Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley, the tower was completed in 1992 and was the first fully steel-framed skyscraper in Sydney since the 1970’s.

It is built on one of the city’s most elevated sites, and according to Emporis appears to be a conglomeration of features from three of the architects’ projects: 333 Wacker Drive, 225 West Wacker and 311 South Wacker.

By some distance, the top spot on Emporis’ list went to One World Trade Center in New York City, which stands immediately beside the memorial for the Twin Towers. The US $3.9 billion building, completed in 2014, is designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to meet the latest safety standards and offer breathtaking views over Manhattan from an observation platform on the 100th floor.

One World Trade Center, Copyright Khalid Mahmood

Tied at second place is The Palazzo, an extravagant luxury hotel in Las Vegas, and London’s The Shard, both which cost $1.9 billion.











Left: The Palazzo, Copyright Ed Lewis

Right: The Shard, Copyright Eric Smerling

The construction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was, surprisingly, not even half as expensive as One World Trade Center, although the $1.5billion skyscraper currently holds the title of the world’s tallest building.

Equally costly but comparatively smaller in size is the Sheraton Huzhou Spring Resort in China by MAD and Shanghai Dai Architectural Design. Its unique shape, which appears like an outsize donut, was particularly challenging for the architects and structural engineers – a hurdle that catapulted it to fifth on the list.

Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, Copyright MAD Architects, XiaZhi

So what causes the cost of these skyscrapers to reach new – and often dizzying – heights?

Emporis suggests that the reasons for immense costs are varied in nature, but that the smartest designs and most sustainable concepts; luxurious and fancy features; and the latest materials, technologies and systems are often the root of “astronomic sums”.

For instance, Sydney’s Chifley Tower ended up at the billion dollar mark because of the inclusion of a giant steel block pendulum weighing 400 tonnes and suspended from eight 75mm diameter steel wires located near the top floor. The pendulum, connected to a hydraulic dampened gravity system, is used to counteract the building’s sway in high wind conditions.

In the same vein, CapitaGreen in Singapore by Toyo Ito & Associates and RSP Architects Planners & Engineers, is notable for the greenery covering its façade, as well as an imposing ‘sky forest’ on its roof which will provide the offices in the $1.4 billion project additional fresh air.

CapitaGreen, Copyright Mith252

“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,” explains Emporis.

“Other projects, by contrast, become increasingly costly during construction itself due to unforseen events or delays.”

The Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany belongs to the latter category. Coming in at number eight, the project incorporates the former storage facility Kaispeicher A, which was gutted but its brick façade retained, along with the 1,111 concrete piles on which it stood.

However, to bear the extra weight of the Elbplharmonie, over 600 additional concrete piles had to be sunk into the River Elb. These issues have racked up the construction bill to $1.03 billion, with the project now expected to be completed in 2016. 

Elbphilharmonie, Copyright Tobias Schulz-Hess