Merdeka 118: world's second-tallest building rises to 678.9 metres in Malaysia

The skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur is scheduled to be opened in 2022

The top spire of Merdeka 118, the second-tallest building in the world, has been completed. Getty Images
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The world's second-tallest skyscraper has reached its final height, only 150 metres short of the current record holder for the tallest building, Dubai's Burj Khalifa.

The pointed spire atop the Merdeka 118 in Downtown Kuala Lumpur has been completed, making it the second-tallest building in the world at 678.9 metres, and stealing the title from China's Shanghai Tower, which stands 632 metres tall. Burj Khalifa, which opened in January 2010, still towers above all at 828 metres.

Designed by Australian firm Fender Katsalidis, Merdeka 118 is scheduled to be completed in late 2022. Built on the historically significant Merdeka site, where Malaysia's independence was declared in 1957, the building’s 118 storeys will house offices and a hotel, topped by a dual-level observation deck and a restaurant, which is expected to be the highest in South-East Asia.

The building’s exterior design is modelled on triangular shapes found in traditional Malaysian arts and crafts, Fender Katsalidis says on its website, while elements of the theme are also used in the interiors.

"Seemingly cleft from solid stone, it comprises a lower lobby for hotel access at one end, and at the opposite end, an upper lobby for the offices and retail," the description reads.

Initially scheduled to be completed last year, the construction of Merdeka 118, which began in 2015, was delayed by more than six months in 2019 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The project has a budget of 5 billion Malaysian ringgits ($1.1 billion).

"We feel incredibly proud to have contributed to the creation of this building and its host of community assets which enrich one of the most culturally significant sites in Malaysia," Fender Katsalidis, co-founder Karl Fender, told architecture and design magazine Dezeen.

"This building and its surrounding precinct has added an aspirational sense of new place to the city's identity, and has at the same time enabled much-needed major improvement to the pedestrian and traffic infrastructure of the area."

The 128-storey Shanghai Tower houses the J Hotel Shanghai Tower, which opened in July and is now the world's highest hotel. While the Burj Khalifa also has the Armani Hotel Dubai, it occupies floors one to eight of the world’s tallest tower, as well as floors 38 and 39.

Scroll through the gallery below for pictures of the tallest buildings in the Middle East:

Updated: December 14, 2021, 7:56 AM