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Malaysia Now Officially Has a New ‘Tallest Building’ Champ

With the slab for Level 118 in place, Merdeka PNB 118 is topped out and officially recognised as Malaysia's new tallest building
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The Merdeka PNB 118 skyscraper was officially topped out earlier this week, and can now lay claim to being Malaysia’s tallest building – by far.

With the official topping-out having taken place this week, Permolodan Nasional Bhd’s (PNB) wholly-owned subsidiary, PNB Merdeka Ventures Sdn Bhd, has now marked a major milestone in the construction of its towering Merdeka 118 development.

Artist’s rendering of the completed Merdeka PNB 118 development | Image Credit: TheTowerInfo.com

The topping out signifies the completion of the final roof slab, which safely reached its highest floor at level 118, following which Merdeka PNB 118 officially became the tallest building in Malaysia, supplanting the long dominance of KL’s iconic Petronas Twin Towers, which had held the crown since 1998. (In fact, the Twin Towers ranked as the world’s tallest buildings for six years until overtaken by Taipei 101 in 2004. So rapid has the construction of supertall buildings been since then, however, the Twin Towers will soon slip out of the world’s top 20!)

Though no longer Malaysia’s tallest, it’s hard to imagine any other building achieving such iconic status as the Petronas Twin Towers | Image Credit: Unsplash

The much newer Exchange 106 tower, the signature building at the TRX centre, was completed in 2019 and brushes up against the Twin Towers’ soaring height, but at 445.5 metres, falls ever so slightly short. Interestingly, at various times of its construction, it was said to have dethroned the Petronas Towers as Malaysia’s tallest – with some news stories even incorrectly reporting Exchange 106’s height as 492 m – but going by official numbers, that simply was never the case. (The widely reported figure of 492 m erroneously took into account the building site’s ground elevation, which of course is not considered when ranking buildings by height.)

A considerable part of Exchange 106’s 446-m height comes from its 48-m, 12-storey glass crown | Image Credit: TheTowerInfo.com

There won’t be any confusion now, because Merdeka 118 leaves them all in the dust, and it’s unlikely to have any close competitors in Malaysia for a long time to come. Upon completion in 2022, the tower will reach its full height of at least 644 m (2,113 ft) and is set to be Southeast Asia’s tallest building. It should take its place, at least for a time, as the world’s second-tallest building, behind only the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (828 m / 2,717 ft), and slightly taller than the Shanghai Tower – no points awarded for guessing its location – at 632 m / 2,073 ft.

Merdeka PNB 118 will join the Burj Khalifa, Shanghai Tower, and the Makka Royal Clock Tower in Mecca as the only four ‘megatall’ skyscrapers in the world; that is, buildings whose height equals or exceeds 600 m. (When using 2,000 ft as the threshold, the list drops to just three, as the tower in Mecca barely squeaks onto the megatall list at 601 m / 1,972 ft.)

Kuala Lumpur is now home to one of only four ‘megatall’ skyscrapers on Earth! | Infographic courtesy of: Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

“The [Merdeka 118] tower is currently 81% completed with the installation of the glass façade in progress at level 108,” commented PNB’s president and group chief executive Ahmad Zulqarnain Onn.

“Despite experiencing a delay due to restrictions from the movement control order implemented last year, we are pleased that we [were] able to top out within our revised timeline.”

According to the world’s foremost authority on such matters, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, with the topping-out completed, Merdeka PNB118 is now officially at the pinnacle on the list of Malaysia’s tallest buildings. The top 10 list is below, with all buildings located in Kuala Lumpur except Coronation Square Tower 1, which is in Johor Bahru. Those marked with an asterisk (*) are currently under construction.

1Merdeka PNB 118*644 m / 2,113 ft
2Petronas Twin Tower 1451.9 m / 1,483 ft
3Petronas Twin Tower 2451.9 m / 1,483 ft
4The Exchange 106445.5 m / 1,462 ft
5Coronation Square Tower 1*370 m / 1,214 ft
6Four Seasons Place342.5 m / 1,124 ft
7Oxley Tower 1*338.6 m / 1,111 ft
8IBN Bukit Bintang*330 m / 1,083 ft
9Menara TM310 m / 1,017 ft
10Kempinski Hotel & Residences*308 m / 1,010 ft

Malaysia’s Top 10 Tallest Buildings | Data Credit: Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
This aerial shot taken during the construction of The Exchange 106 gives a good idea of KL’s vertical cityscape | Image Credit: TheTowerInfo.com

A fun fact: Malaysia’s first building exceeding 150 m in height (Menara KH in Kuala Lumpur, 152 m) was completed in 1983. In the 38 years since then, Malaysia has added 96 completed skyscrapers (over 150 m), and another 29 are currently under construction.

So in less than 50 years, Malaysia will have gone from having no skyscrapers at all to having nearly 130 of them.


Currently, based on the number of completed buildings at 150 m or greater, Kuala Lumpur is positioned as the 15th ‘tallest city’ in the world! But when you consider the number of buildings 200 m and above, KL actually moves up to 7th place worldwide.

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