In the­ late­st pictures of Dubai'­s skyline, one building looms over the rest. The dark structure almost seems as though it's on a di­fferent scale -- like an oversized toy that got mixed in with a matching set. At 156 stories and growing, the Burj Khalifa (formerly called Burj Dubai) is, in fact, on a different scale. It's the new tallest building in the world and the new tallest structure in the world.

On July 22, 2007, the Burj hit 1,680 feet, pushing ahead of Taiwan's Taipei 101 by 13 feet. It then quickly surpassed Toronto's 1,815 foot CN Tower, which held the title of world's tallest freestanding structure for 31 years. At its grand opening in January 2010, the finished product had been renamed Burj Khalifa to honor the man who bailed the building out of debt, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi. And it stood 2,717 feet tall with roughly 160 stories.

That's taller than predicted. Speculators had forcasted that the building would reach about 2,275 feet. Skyscraper developers strive to build the world's tallest structures, and some developers will erect hasty towers or extend a roof to gain height over a rival.  Developers hoped the Burj would dominate all four criteria used by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat to measure skyscrapers. It would have the highes­t structural top, occupied floor, roof and spire in the world. The building now towers 1,000 feet above the Taipei 101 in Taiwan, which had been the tallest building in the world since 2004. It's also the tallest structure in the world.

The tower is only one of the booming city of Dubai's superlative plans -- plans that include the largest mall, the largest ski run and the largest artificial island. Yet, it was not conceived as such. Designers originally planned for a 90 story, three-wing building but Dubai's ruler and mastermind, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, pushed the developers, Emaar Properties, to sensationalize the project and build a globally recognized structure. Construction on the Burj started in January 2004.

In the next section, we'll learn about the components of the Burj Khalifa.