Top of the tops: the winner (and runners-up) of the Emporis Skyscraper Award

The Emporis Skyscraper Award, the world’s most renowned prize for skyscrapers, this year goes to London. The tallest building in Western Europe, The Shard, was chosen by an international panel of experts from more than 300 skyscrapers that are at least 100 metres (328 feet) tall and that were completed during the previous calendar year. The award, given by Emporis (, the international provider of building data, is now into its 14th year.

The 306-metre-tall (1,004-foot-tall) winning building, designed by the architect Renzo Piano, won over the jury thanks to its unique glass fragment-shaped form and its sophisticated architectural implementation. In the words of the expert jury, “Construction of The Shard was complicated by the particularly tight site and therefore needed innovative planning. This makes the result all the more impressive: a skyscraper that is recognized immediately and which is already considered London’s new emblem.”

Second place in the voting went to DC Tower 1 by Dominique Perrault Architecture. The 250-meter-tall (820-foot-tall) Viennese skyscraper particularly stands out for the contrasting way in which its facade is treated: three mirror-smooth sides are broken by a craggy, jagged fourth that gives the building a strength of expression and sense of solidity, despite its slim stature. The skyscraper also impressed due to it comprehensive sustainability concept, including photovoltaics to generate energy, local plants with low water requirements in the green areas of the building, and electric car chargers to save on CO² emissions.

The third-placed project also breaks with the standards of conventional high-rise architecture and thus adds to the great variety of forms and shapes that characterizes this year’s Emporis Skyscraper Award. Located on Lake Tai, the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, conceived by last year’s winning architects MAD, is a 102-meter-tall (335-foot-tall) hotel whose shape evokes a gigantic ring. Its daring design is further accentuated by its illumination at night, which creates imposing reflections of the building in the lake.

After the award had gone in the last two years to Absolute World Towers in Canada and New York by Gehry at Eight Spruce Street in the U.S., no North American skyscraper is to be found in the top 10 on this occasion. By contrast, the Emporis Skyscraper Award winners’ list contains a total of five European projects – the last time so many were represented was six years ago. With The Shard, this is the fifth time the coveted architecture prize has gone to Europe.

NUMBER 1: The Shard

Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Adamson Associates International. The tower’s design features angled glass facade panels, which result in a multiformity of changing reflected light patterns. The building’s facade is both double-skinned and ventilated, thus reducing solar gain whilst maximizing light intake. The winter gardens, which the skyscraper provides instead of expensive corner offices, benefit from the building’s natural ventilation system. (306 metres/1,004 feet; 73 storeys)

NUMBER 2: DC Tower 1

Architects: Dominique Perrault Architecture, Hoffmann-Janz Architekten. Since much of the building’s facade is made of glass, daylight can easily be used instead of artificial light. The building runs on green electricity. The building offers water-saving showers and restrooms, and a variety of local plants, instead of exotic plants, reduce the consumption of water in the green areas of the building. Local materials have been used for the interior design. (250 metres/820 feet; 60 storeys)

NUMBER 3: Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort

Architects: MAD, Shanghai Xian Dai Architecture Design. A total of 19,000 LED lights illuminate the facade at night, allowing animated images to be cast on the waters of Lake Tai. The hotel’s ring shape enables all rooms to have balconies and views, and receive daylight from all directions. (102 metres/335 feet; 27 storeys)

NUMBER 4: Cayan Tower 

Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Khatib & Alami Dubai. The building’s twisted shape reduces wind forces on the tower and channels the wind in such a way that its forces are unable to organize themselves. Each floor is rotated by 1.2 to achieve the full 90 spiral, creating the shape of a helix. It is the world’s tallest tower featuring a 90 twist. (307 metres/1,007 feet; 73 storeys)

NUMBER 5: One Central Park (East Tower) Architects: Ateliers Jean Nouvel, PTW Architects. Thanks to the vertical gardens on each floor, the building gives residents the impression of living in a treehouse. The whole Central Park Sydney complex is built around a spacious park. At night, the building serves as a canvas for Yann Kersalé’s LED art installation. (117 metres/384 feet; 34 storeys)

NUMBER 6: Flame Towers

Architect: HOK. The towers are completely covered with LED screens displaying the movement of fire and creating the effect of giant torches. The design was inspired by Azerbaijan’s history as a land of fire, due to its rich deposits of natural gas. Concrete is the predominant material while the top of the three buildings contain a lighter steel structure creating the impression of a flickering flame. (182 metres/597 feet; 39 storeys)

NUMBER 7: Mercury City

Architects: Frank Williams & Partners, G.L. Sirota, M.M. Posokhin. The tower is designed to use less water and electricity by collecting melting water and providing 75 per cent of workspace with daylight. Ten per cent of the construction materials came from a 300-km (186-mile) radius of the construction site. The tallest building in Europe features two high-speed elevators travelling at a maximum speed of seven metres (23 feet)/second. (339 metres/1,112 feet; 75 storeys)

NUMBER 8: Ardmore Residence

Architects: UNStudio, Architects 61. From far away, Ardmore Residence appears to adopt divergent contours when viewed from different perspectives. Moving closely around the building, the various openings in the concrete panels of the facade affect a sense of organic mutation and transition. An energy-efficient air-conditioning system cools the building. Water is saved by usage regulators and water-efficient fittings. (136 metres/446 feet; 36 storeys)

NUMBER 9: AZ Tower

Architect: Architektonická kancelá Burian-Kivinka. Thirty-metre-deep (xx-foot-deep) power piles cool the building in summer and heat it in winter with the help of a heat pump. This is the only building in the Czech Republic using this energy-efficient way of regulating the temperature. The tower’s most noticeable design features are the speckled facade in orange and white and its contours with the characteristic bend in the middle of the building. (111 metres/364 feet; 30 storeys)

NUMBER 10: Nanfung Commercial, Hospitality and Exhibition Complex

Architects: Andrew Bromberg of Aedas. Both buildings in the complex offer exhibition space on their lower floors. One of the buildings is topped by offices, the other by a 5-star hotel containing, among other facilities, the city’s largest ballroom with an area of nearly 5,000 square metres (53,820 square feet). The fact that both complex buildings are separated 160 metres (525 feet) from each other by another building had to be kept in mind during the design. The buildings’ sliding floor plates serve as a unique design feature linking both buildings over the distance. (162 metres/531 feet; 38 storeys)

NUMBER 11: Tour Carpe Diem

Architects: Robert A.M. Stern Architects, SRA Architectes. Geothermal wells are the building’s main energy source. In additional, the sustainable design strategy includes solar water heating, a heat-recovery system, high-performance lighting, controls for daylight dimming, and occupancy sensors. The bar on the building&rsquo
;s rooftop garden offers views over Paris and the river Seine. Greenery can also be found inside: the main lobby is augmented by a 17-metre-high (56-foot-high) winter garden. (123 metres/404 feet; 22 storeys)


Based in Germany, Emporis is a leading database of information about building and construction projects. For over a decade, Emporis has helped companies, organizations and individuals stay informed about the building industry. The Emporis Skyscraper Award is the world’s most renowned prize for high-rise architecture.


The Emporis Skyscraper Award has been given since 2000. The jury is formed of architecture experts from all over the world, who judge nominated buildings according to aesthetic and functional design criteria. Previous winners include Absolute World Towers (Mississauga, ON, 2012); New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street (New York City, 2011); and Hotel Porta Fira (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Spain, 2010).

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