Just Another Bogus Way to Rank Europe’s Skyscraper Cities: the 15th Rule

Just Another Bogus Way to Rank Europe’s Skyscraper Cities: the 15th Rule

One of the reasons why it is so much fun to discuss topics such as best skylines of Europe is that the outcome is totally in the eye of the beholder. That doesn’t stop some from trying to throw some hard data into the mix, such as the Skyscraper Cities Ranking List by Egbert Gramsbergen and Paul Kazmierczak, which ranks skylines based on the sum of all building heights for a city after substraction of the minimum of 90m. Building data site Emporis uses its data to generate a Skyline Ranking based on a progressive points system for the number of floors.

Besides the usual issues with a statistical approach, being data quality and result interpretation, the biggest problem with both systems is that they don’t take any aesthetic composition in consideration. This doesn’t stop online media from drawing popular conclusions though (free content!) At least, a proper mathematical approach of skyline quality ought to include data on local height variance, relative distances between skyscrapers and distance from city center, skyscraper appearances, urban population and area, and skyscraper usage.

Since I don’t have an exhaustive set on building heights at hand, let alone other relevant data, I need to come up with a different approach, and I think I found one. It is based on the idea that proper knowledge is not always found in the in your face variables, but could be hiding in the for bland taken details. In this case, when you want to say something in general about skyscrapers, it makes sense to look at the general skyscraper, not the landmarks, icons or other incidental and exceptional uproars.

As a test, I looked up and ranked the 15th tallest building in European cities. The “15th tallest” is based on the presumption that it’s a safe rank outside the scopes of landmarks and the mediocre slabs, while in order to have something of a skyline, 15 skyscrapers seems like a good number. For reasons of interpretation, the population within the city limits is listed as well. Only completed buildings were considered. Here is the result:

# city 15th tallest hgt. population
1. Moscow Vorobiovy Gory II 188 m 12,197,596
2. Istanbul Tekstilkent Plaza 2 168 m 14,377,018
3. Paris (*) Tour Adria 155 m 10,858,000
4. London 25 Bank Street 153 m 8,615,246
5. Frankfurt Eurotower 148 m 709,395
6. Benidorm Sol de Poniente 2 112 m 69,010
7. Warsaw Golden Terraces 105 m 1,740,119
8. Rotterdam De Coopvaert 104 m 616,528
9. Brussels Manhattan Center 102 m 1,175,831
10. Milan Aria 92 m 1,337,885
11. Vienna Block C1-C4 90 m 1,805,681
12. Madrid Telefonica Building 88 m 3,165,235
13. Samara Gastello 22a 87 m 1,172,000
14. Kiev Vulitsa Knyazhy Zaton 9 86 m 2,848,597
15. Berlin Europa-Center 86 m 3,562,166
16. Barcelona la Caixa I 85 m 1,602,386
17. Amsterdam Belastingdienst 85 m 825,080
18. Cologne DKV-Versicherung 84 m 1,057,327
19. St. Petersburg Akkuratova 2 84 m 5,191,690
20. Hamburg Channel Tower 75 m 1,760,433
21. The Hague Prinsenhof Toren C/F 75 m 510,909
22. Naples Edificio E3 75 m 989,160
23. Bucharest City Gate North Tower 75 m 1,803,425

* Including the skyscrapers in the La Défense municipalities of Courbevoie (10), Puteaux (3) and Nanterre (1). Contrary to the population data on other cities, for Paris the number for the metropolitan area was selected instead of the 2,273,305 for just the city, as it better reflects the size of the city people refer to as Paris.

Not included for strictly taken not being in Europe are the 122 meter tall Platin Tower in Ankara, and the 88 meter tall Krasny Pereulok in Yekaterinburg.

At first glance you can distinguish a Top 5 composed out of the skylines of the (financial) capitals of Europe’s most populated countries, followed by three ambitious ones, one oddball in between, completed by the rest, of which none are widely known for their skyline.

75 meters was the cut off here, the largest European cities not on the list are Rome (2,874,038), Minsk (1,921,807), Budapest (1,754,000), Belgrade (1,669,552), Munich (1,493,900), and Kharkiv (1,431,565). Given their population it’s safe to assume these cities just don’t care about skyscrapers.


Above are the 15th tallest buildings in Moscow, Istanbul, Paris, London and Frankfurt respectively. I wouldn’t hold it against you if only the Eurotower in Frankfurt looks somewhat familiar to you. But looking at the ranking, I don’t think this list is as bogus as promised in the title of this article. The ranking reasonably reflects the skyscraper status of European cities, while the height of the 15th tallest can be used for relative comparison between cities. It’s interesting to see it only took a quick selection of rather unknown skyscrapers to come to that. For now I’m just going to leave this here, but if in the future I refer to the 15th Rule of skyscraper ranking, you now know what I am talking about!

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  • Hobby Turysta

    i think you forgot about SKY TOWER in Wroclaw Poland which has 51 floor and 200m

    • Jan Klerks

      Nah, this exercise is about listing the #15 tallest building in a country. Sky Tower is by far the #1 in Wrocław!