North Korea’s Ryugyong Hotel is finally set to open after 23 years of construction and financial struggles. It is one of the world’s largest buildings as well as one of the most ridiculed, looking similar to a rocket ship.

Ryugyong has never been opened for business despite the original hype of the facility having 3,000 rooms, five restaurants, a bowling alley, a nightclub, and the government featured on the hotels official stamps. But having never being finished, it is only seen as a symbol for North Korea’s failures. The country has occasionally chosen to airbrush out the building in skyline photos.

Construction began in 1987 but was halted four years later when funding ran out. For years, a crane was a part of their skyline. “It was the hotel with the iconic crane,” said Simon Cockerell, an executive at Bejing-based Koryo Tours, which leads tourist groups to North Korea.

The intention is to finish the hotel is to show off economic strength even though the government relied on an outside investment from an Egyptian telecom company, Orascom, to complete the hotel.

Even after opening, Cockerell mentioned that a “common rumor in Pyongyang” was that many of the middle floors would still be left vacant, with the bottom for hotel rooms and the top for restaurants.

Originally, the concept of the building came from the need to compete with the South. As the South was preparing to host the 1988 Summer Olympics and was building many high-rises, the North decided to compete by building the Ryugyong which was going to be 200 feet higher than the highest building planned. At this point, with aid coming from the Soviet Union, the North could afford it. But when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, their funds and supply of raw materials ended abruptly.

Esquire magazine has called it “the worst building in the history of mankind.”

In 2008, Orascom agreed to begin renovations.

In 2009, the crane disappeared from the skyline.


The United Kingdom’s tallest building has topped out. The central core of the Shard Tower has reached completion at 244 meters. The total height of the tower, which is located in the Southwark area of London, will be 310 meters by the time it is finished in 2012.

Designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano, the London Bridge Tower or ‘Shard of Glass’ as it is known will be the tallest building in the UK as well as one of the tallest buildings on earth. Piano found inspiration for the tower from the masts of England’s legendary naval fleet. The mixed use tower will feature the Shangri-La Hotel in addition to over 586,509 square feet of office space, 62,129 square feet of residential space, and retail and restaurant space. The pinnacle of the tower will house a 8,159 square foot public viewing gallery designed for contemplation and the visual absorption of stunning views of London and surrounding English landscape.


The Shard is the tallest building in the UK (Computer graphic)


Construction starts on the Lotte Super Tower

December 27, 2010

Lotte Group, Korea’s fifth largest conglomerate, is reaching for the sky. Construction began last month onLotte Super Tower, which is slated to be the second-tallest skyscraper in the world. When completed, the 555-meter (1,281 feet) skyscraper in Jamsil, southern Seoul will be the tallest in Korea and second-tallest in the world to the Burj Khalifa’s 828 [...]

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Freedom Tower reaches halfway point as building of 52nd floor begins

December 19, 2010

Construction of One World Trade Center reached its halfway point Thursday in lower Manhattan, according to reports.

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Saudi Arabia working on new Tallest Building in the World – Kingdom Tower in Jeddah

September 18, 2010

Plans are moving forward on Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the latest contender for the mantle of “world’s tallest building.” Part of the 23-million-square-meter project known as Kingdom City, the tower is slotted for 1001 meters, 173 meters taller than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the current record holder, which opened earlier this year. Contractors are [...]

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15 Penn Station in New York gets the approval

September 15, 2010

On Aug. 25, the New York City Council approved plans for a controversial skyscraper to be built near Penn Station, two blocks from the Empire State Building. The skyscraper, known as 15 Penn Plaza, will be a 67-floor tower and rise nearly 1,200 feet into the New York City skyline. It will be 34 feet [...]

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Skating on the 94th floor in Chicago

September 10, 2010

Ice skating in Chicago in January is nothing new. Doing it on the 94th floor of a downtown skyscraper certainly is. Officials at the 100-story John Hancock Center said Thursday that they’re installing a rink that will allow visitors to skate at 1,000 feet up in the air. About 20 people at a time will be [...]

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The Ryugyong Hotel – One of the tallest hotels in the world

August 7, 2010

Begun in 1987, this 3,000-room 1,083-feet giant in downtown Pyongyang has sucked up nearly 2% of North Korea’s GDP over the past two decades — and yet it remains unopened, unoccupied, and as yet uncompleted. Construction halted on the hotel — which, even in its incomplete state is the twenty-second largest skyscraper in the world [...]

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Seoul Lotte Super Tower 123 design revealed

January 18, 2010

On October 21, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates unveiled its slender, cone-shaped design for what will become one of Asia’s tallest buildings.

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SOM breaks ground on Digital Media City Landmark in Seoul

January 18, 2010

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill has broken ground on the $1.7 billion Digital Media City Landmark Tower in Seoul, South Korea. With a planned height of 2,100 feet, it is expected to be East Asia’s tallest tower by the time it’s completed in 2014.

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