Created during January 2023

The 100 Tallest Buildings in the World

This self-initiated data visualization appeared in the third issue of Nightingale, the printed journal of the Data Visualization Society. The theme of the issue was guidelines and with this visual, I embrace one of the main “taboos” within data visualization: 3D (bar) charts. It is accompanied by a short article that explains how you can go beyond the guidelines and rules when you have the right reasons.

The data visualization showing the 100 tallest buildings in the world
The full spread with the article in the Nightingale Issue 3

Using a 3D perspective in data visualization is generally only to the detriment of the visual, and for good reason. However, when I started playing with the dataset of the 100 tallest buildings in the world, and noticed that they all fall within a rather narrow band of heights (apart from the tallest handful), I knew that comparing exact heights would not be the main point of visualizing this dataset. Instead, seeing that more than half of those buildings are in China, that most of them are offices, and which buildings once were the tallest (and for how long) became the insights that I wanted the visual to focus on.

I, therefore, opted to go for an isometric projection, turning the buildings into 3D pillars, because the metaphor between pillars and skyscrapers is such a strong one. It creates a visual that is creative, unique, and captures the reader’s eye.

I did still add a bar chart of all 100 buildings by height as a mini chart along the right of the page so a reader can see how similar all the buildings are.

You can buy the third issue of Nightingale with the “Tallest Buildings” article here.

Zooming in on some of the annotations

A zoom-in on the tiny stacked bar chart on the left of the page
A zoom-in on the tiny bar chart on the right of the page

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