If these wild, under-construction buildings are any indication, the future is near, and it will be extremely tall and draped in glass.
1. Kingdom Tower
Set to dwarf the world’s tallest building—the United Arab Emirates’ Burj Khalifa—by over 550 feet, Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower will be the planet’s first building to top a kilometer in height. The $1.2 billion project, located in Jeddah, will house luxury condos, office space, an observatory, a Four Seasons hotel, and feature the world’s highest sky terrace on the 157th floor (still quite a ways from the top, fyi). Construction on the project officially started last year, and the building is due to be completed in 2019.
2. Shanghai Tower
In the works since 1993, China’s $4.2 billion, 121-floor Shanghai Tower was topped out earlier this year and is now wrapping construction. It is currently the world’s second tallest building, but the Tower isn’t officially set to open until 2015. Still, millions of people have already seen the view from the top thanks to vertigo-inducing snaps and videos, shot by two Russian daredevils who illicitly climbed to the top, which went viral last year. The mixed-use Tower is composed of nine distinct vertical zones and is surrounded by a layer of transparent glass skin to filter weather and provide natural ventilation.
3. The Dubai Pearl
Somewhere between designing artificial islands shaped like the world, the largest mall known to man, and, of course, the planet’s tallest building, someone decided Dubai should also be home to a luxury development that looks vaguely like a regular building that has ominously sprung massive legs. The Dubai Pearl, overlooking the Persian Gulf and set to top out at 73 stories, kicked off construction in 2009 and is due for completion in 2016. The planned “integrated city” features four towers connected by a sky bridge, and will include a 1,800-seat premium theatre and serve as home to the Dubai International Film Festival.
4. Agora Garden Tower
Coming in 2016, Taipei's double-helix-shaped Agora Garden Tower will split the difference between man and Mother Nature. The twisty, 20-story luxury residential building will be green in every sense of the word, with balconies on each floor to support gardens, and state-of-the-art sustainable features including solar cells and rainwater recycling .
5. World One
When it’s completed next year, the 117-floor World One tower will be the tallest residential building on the planet and far and away the tallest building in Mumbai, nearly doubling the 61-floor Imperial Towers that currently hold the latter title. World One will be home to some of Mumbai’s wealthiest residents, with 300 luxury 3 and 4-bedroom units that start at $1.5 million, and feature designs by Giorgio Armani's Armani/Casa studio. Fancy, but World One might not hold the “Mumbai’s Tallest” title for long, considering the currently-on-hold India Tower is planned to reach 126 stories.
6. King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center
Closer to the ground than most of the buildings on this list but every bit as mind-blowing, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC, for short-ish) looks more like a Bond villain's lair than a multinational non-profit. The futuristic crystallized design is the brainchild of Iraqi-born architecture icon Zaha Hadid, who designed the center as a series of interlocking, six-sided cells. Construction on the project started in 2009 and, as of 2014, the steel frame has been completed, but it’s currently unclear when the facility will be open for business.
7. Suzhou Zhongnan Center
Construction just recently started on Suzhou, China’s 2,391-foot, 138-story Suzhou Zhongnan Center, meaning there’s still a long, long (long) way to go. But if the pointy, $4.5 billion project is completed on schedule in 2020, it will be the tallest building in China and the third-tallest on earth. The hotel, office, and residential tower will be located beside the nearly-complete 69-story Gate of the Orient, which, as has repeatedly been noted, looks a whole lot like a big pair of pants.
8. Lotte World Tower
Set to hover well above anything else in Seoul, South Korea’s skyline, the Lotte World Tower will top out at 1,824 feet and 123 stories tall when it’s completed in 2016. The building will feature, from the bottom up, retail, offices, apartments, a hotel, and a public observation space on top. It will also notably overtake North Korea’s extraordinary pyramidical Ryugyong Hotel as the largest building on the Korean Peninsula.
9. Dawang Mountain Resort
Sick of hotels that don’t delicately hover between two cliffs over an abandoned quarry and a lake? Changsha, China’s Dawang Mountain Resort should have you covered come 2016. Spreading over 170 meters from end to end, the resort will feature “an entertainment ice world” with indoor skiing, a water park and hanging gardens.
10. Songjiang Hotel
Apparently, luxuriating in structures creatively built around quarries and lakes is the next big thing in high-class Chinese vacationing. Like the Dawang Mountain Resort, the Songjiang Hotel rests quarry-side, but the 19-story Shanghai-adjacent hotel will actually be built directly over the quarry’s walls, with a waterfall flowing over the facade. Oh, and if you don’t have the incredible view from one of the higher floors, you might want to go for one of the bottom two, since they’ll be submerged under water.