Geography

The most expensive skyscrapers ever built

To some, they’re stunning architectural works that serve as the focal point of the grandest cities. To others, they’re an eyesore that serves only as an impediment to the view of the horizon. Regardless of how you view skyscrapers, there is no denying that plenty of time, effort, and, of course, money went into their design and construction.

The next time you’re in the shadow of a skyscraper, glimpse up at it and see if you can guesstimate the number of dollars it took to build it. Chances are, your estimation and the actual value won’t come close to the actual cost of the tall buildings described below. The following rank as the most expensive ever built.

Wynn Resort, United States

Photo of the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas
Credit: Radomir Rezny / Shutterstock.com

Total cost: $2.7 billion

When one speaks of opulence and extravagance on the Las Vegas Strip, they’re typically speaking about a Steve Wynn property. The most expensive of Wynn’s assortment of resorts is the aptly named Wynn, located on the north end, a short walk from the famed Fashion Show Mall.

To bring Steve Wynn’s vision of an ornate 614-foot-high resort to life, an estimated $2.7 billion was needed. It’s not hard to see where all of that money went as the resort and casino is decorated in costly accents.

As the high room charges and the on-site gold-decorated nightclub indicate, Wynn Las Vegas was never intended to be another run-of-the-mill resort. The target audience is the “whales” of the gambling industry, who are the same people that can afford to drop $10,000 on one cocktail at XS Nightclub.

One World Trade Center, United States

Photo of New York City skyline with One World Trade Center prominently in focus
Credit: mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com

Total cost: $3.8 billion

In the wake of the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers of New York City were struck by two planes and collapsed, a great debate erupted over how to memorialize the nearly 3,000 victims. The decision to build another skyscraper, a memorial one, did materialize and now sits on the 16-acre lot where  the World Trade Center once stood.

One World Trade Center stands 1,766 feet high, roughly 400 feet taller than either of the original World Trade Center towers. Though investors originally estimated the value of the memorial tower at $2 billion, and the original cost to build was estimated at $1.5 billion, the tower wound up costing $3.8 billion to build. That includes the building itself, rights for two more towers, access to the site, and a transport hub.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, United States

Photo of brightly lit hotels on the Las Vegas Strip
Credit: littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock.com

Total cost: $3.9 billion

As part of the ornate appearance of the Las Vegas Strip, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is the most expensive skyscraper to line Las Vegas Boulevard. Catering to a younger crowd with modern decor and one of the most popular nightclubs on The Strip, bringing the Cosmopolitan to life was no small endeavor.

Despite financial complications in the midst of construction, the resort was completed on time in December 2010. The total cost topped out at $3.9 billion, which covered a 110,000-square-foot gaming space; 300,000-square-foot retail and restaurant space; 40,000-square-foot spa and fitness facility; and 150,000 square feet of meeting space.

Adding to the high cost are the 6-foot-deep terraces that are available in most of the hotel’s 2,995 rooms.

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Marina Bay Sands building lit up and reflected in the water at night
Credit: Patrick Foto / Shutterstock.com

Total cost: $5.7 billion

In the dead of night, on the shores of Singapore, a trio of buildings illuminates the blackened sky. Even during the day they’re impossible to mistake as run-of-the-mill skyscrapers thanks to the structural island that spans across the three buildings. Marina Bay Sands has not only a very unique look, but its construction also had a shocking price tag of $5.7 billion.

The 9,000,000-square-foot resort is a spectacle that overlooks the Singapore Strait between Singapore and Batam. Built by the Las Vegas Sands corporation, it’s no surprise that everything contained within the massive resort is top-of-the-line and caters to a crowd looking for an opulent escape. Featuring an infinity pool, observation deck, multiple nightclubs, shows, and a slew of on-site shops and restaurants, Marina Bay Sands has everything guests could need during their stay. For high-rollers, there’s even an on-site casino decorated in gold fixtures and lined with the latest slot machines and popular table games.

Abraj Al Bait Towers, Saudi Arabia

Abraj Al Bait Towers at sunset
Credit: Shazrul Edwan/ Shutterstock.com

Total cost: $15 billion

Coming in at a construction cost of $15 billion, Abraj Al Bait in Mecca is the most expensive skyscraper by far. That’s not the only record it broke. Upon its completion, the towering structure also boasts the world’s largest clock tower at 141 feet in diameter.

Standing 1,972 feet high, the tower is like its own city. Restaurants, luxury hotels, condo units, a private parking garage, and five-story shopping mall can be found within the expensive walls of Abraj Al Bait Towers. Unlike most skyscrapers, especially those that landed on this list, the towers of Saudi Arabia trump any of the much smaller buildings that surround it.

Construction on Abraj Al Bait Towers started in 2007 and took five years to complete. The finished product was the 120-story self-contained metropolis that looks more like it should be adorning the streets of New York.

Impressive heights with a price tag to match

Photo of skyscrapers against a light blue sky
Credit: Aleoks/ Shutterstock.com

This list includes just a few examples of the lengths that companies will go to build the biggest and boldest skyscrapers on Earth. The One World Trade Center gets a pass — but the other skyscrapers here could certainly be called extravagant testaments to the wealth, fame, and fortune of their creators.