I like tall buildings. I am not certain if that is because I am an architect or just because I like being up in the air. I have been to many in my life as an Architect. And to be honest, I almost always seek them out anytime I travel. Luckily I have been able to get into many due to my involvement with the AIA in various capacities. Then others, I pay the admission fee just to get to the top. I still have many on my list, but I felt like sharing my current list of the “visited” and a few more on my wish list. I have them here in order of, well short to tall, but a few have been left out in the mid-range to keep it shorter and since they were not stand out experiences for me.
Price Tower – Bartlesville, OK (221 ft)
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Only on this list for a single reason., It is a Frank Lloyd Wright designed tower. In Oklahoma. Small town Oklahoma. So maybe more than one reason, but still it is not an impressive height or scale. It is, however, a very worthwhile experience. I really enjoyed this building. It is a bit quirky in some aspects and was definitely not built for someone of my stature, or even close. Both of the “passenger” elevators in this building felt like coffins to me. (see the pic, that’s the entire elevator with me in it) This is a national treasure to be certain.
70 Rainey Street – Austin, TX (419 ft)
This is a new residential tower in Austin that opened up in late 2019. I was able to tour this facility in January of this year. Luckily it was a very nice Texas winter day. The views in all directions are outstanding. This is a typical high-end residential tower with all the amenities.
Chicago Tribune Tower – Chicago, IL (496 ft)
Architect: John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood
While not a giant, this one holds a special place in my mind. The outstanding Gothic architecture, the gargoyles, and the stone just make this place wonderful. The ability to get into this building to the actual top floors is pretty difficult as I understand it. This is one of those times when the AIA paid off. There was a party held at the top of the tower during the National Convention. Bob and I actually went together. Unfortunately, it was so foggy the views were not available, but the architecture of this place was still worth it. Bob and I snuck up the elevator to the top floor and then even up a flight of stairs. I think we were as high as you could get in this building for a short bit. Shhh! don’t tell anyone.
Marriott Marquis – Atlanta, GA (554 ft)
Architect: John Portman
Getting a little bit taller, not great heights, but this is an iconic building. Iconic. The interior atrium space in this hotel IS this hotel. It has been in more movies than you probably could count. I have stayed here a few times in the last decade, but the first time I was there… I fell in love. This building alone made me want to know more about John Portman.
Cosmopolitan Hotel – Las Vegas, NV (610 ft)
Architect: Arquitectonica (exterior)
This is my favorite place to stay when I visit Las Vegas. The first time I visited I was staying next door at the Aria, which I also enjoy, but the Cosmo is just my favorite now. I also make certain to get a room viewing the Bellagio Fountains if possible. This is just a nice bit of luxury and of course, it’s a tall building, but I can also be out on a balcony which makes it even better for me! A view from my balcony above is in the photo above.
The Independent – Austin, TX (694 ft)
Architect: Rhode Partners
I was able to tour this residential tower in November of 2019 shortly after its completion. Again this was an AIA tour and we had some extra access to many areas. The views from this building are great views of the city of Austin. I am happy to have been able to get inside these residences because I could definitely not afford to live here as they are very expensive. But the interesting thing (or maybe not) is that I do not find the interiors of these buildings to be of outstanding quality.
Comcast Center – Philadelphia, PA (974 ft)
Architect: Robert A.M. Stern
While I did not make it to the upper floors here I was able to get a fairly decent way up. I was here during the construction of the new Comcast Technology Center Tower that is across the street. While this building was not overly impressive to me, it is still one of the tallest in the U.S. Maybe I would feel different if I had made it to the top; like conquering a man-made mountain. (not really)
Hancock Center– Chicago, IL (1,128 ft)
So this was the very first tall building that I fell in love with; the Hancock Center in Chicago. It was actually the very first really tall building for me to visit. I mean like over 800 feet tall. I know it has a different name now, but to me, it will always be the Hancock Tower. I go here every time I am in Chicago. I always go have drinks on the 95th-floor bar. Sit and have a few drinks or lunch and look out over the city or lake. The women’s bathroom here has probably the best view ever. Don’t ask… just trust me. The view from the 95th floor is outstanding – see below.
Willis/Sears Tower – Chicago, IL (1,451 ft)
Another Chicago icon! This one is nice but does not hold a tight grip on me as it has an entry fee. While it is 300+ feet taller than the Hancock, it just doesn’t seem to do it for me as much. It seems even more touristy and rushed than I prefer. Honestly, I have only been once.
On My List to see Someday…
Empire State, New York City, NY (1,250 ft)
Architect: Shreve, Lamb & Harmon
As an architect, I am somewhat ashamed that I have never been to this building. I have been to NYC only a few times, but never made this excursion part of my agendas. So insert my sad and embarrassed face here.
One World Trade Center, New York City, NT (1,776 ft)
As this is now the tallest building in the U.S. I want to visit. I was actually in NYC about 6 months after 9-11 and saw the emptiness of that space. I want to go back and see what it has become so many years later.
There are other buildings not in the US that would be nice, but I do not have many opportunities to travel to Asia in search of tall buildings. I say Asia due to the fact that is where a majority of the tallest buildings in the world are located. That would be like 18 of the 25 tallest buildings in the world are located throughout Asia. A fact that I did not actually know until I started this post.
What are your highest points? Or what is the tallest building on your list? If I had to choose only one, I think it would be obviously Burj Khalifa (2,717 ft) in Dubai. (I know not Asia) Maybe one day I will have the need to travel in that direction and I will make the stop.
Here’s to dreams of greater heights.