High-Alikes: The Best Skyscraper Look-Alikes

High-Alikes: The Best Skyscraper Look-Alikes

Like humans, a skyscraper can have a doppelgänger as well, for a number of reasons. Today we’re going to look at some of these.

The world’s first high-alikes were skyscrapers that were deliberately modelled after some famous towers. This was the Gilded Age when the skyscraper was still growing up and as such needed to copy before they could create. Many self-made millionaires commissioned a skyscraper specifically asking for something that reminded them of grandeur and splendor.

The classic example of a high-alike and one which everyone knows is the Met Life Tower in New York (left), which was modeled after the Bell Tower (Campanile) in Venice, Italy.


In the 1950’s, ornament became a crime and building that looked alike, as in international, was considered a quality. Below are the first and last skyscraper designed by the pin-up boy of corporate modernism, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, being the Seagram Building in New York (left) and the IBM Plaza in Chicago, but there are many, many more like it. I’m sure a trained eye can tell you the difference between these brown boxes, but do not feel ashamed if all these look exactly the same to you.


For a time, the acronym of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill also doubled as “Same Old Model”, for a fairly good reason. Here are the One Shell Square in New Orleans (left) and the Republic PLaza in Denver.


…which both, on a smaller scale, look similar to 500 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago (left) and Europoint towers in Rotterdam.


Even the late 1960’s and early 70’s was not a good time to stand out. Telus Plaza South in Edmonton on the left, and Granville Square, Vancouver, to the right. Or is it the other way around?


In the 1980’s, the starchitect emerged as someone who was able to handle large projects, while adding a signature design of his own. Like Cesar Pelli’s Manhattan World Financial Center in Downtown New York (left) compared to One Canada Square in the London, both built on former docklands by the way. Whether this ought to be interpreted as brand name architecture or a one-trick-pony is up to you.


Today’s high-alikes can be found in some of the emerging skyscraper cites, where, again, copying is just a way of getting there. If the following is a reinterpretation, inspired by, or just blatant copying is again up to you.

Chrysler Building in New York on the left, compared to the Al Kazim twin towers in Dubai.


Marina City in Chicago (left) and the Donna Towers in the Dubai


Then there is the category of the unfortunate and unintended high-alikes, such as the case with a twin tower project in Korea called “The Clouds” which could be easily interpreted as something else.


While on the topic of “Korea and the World Trade Center in New York”, how about the Northeast Asia Trade Tower in Incheon (left) compared to One World Trade Center? In Korea’s defense, they were first.


And than, some building just look alike because they happen to do so. We’ll cover those in “High-Alikes, Part 2”!

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  • RC Haselius

    Compare the 1972 IDS Tower in Minneapolis (by Philip Johnson) to the 1982 Thanksgiving tower in Dallas (by HKS Arquitectos).