Castle in the Clouds
Kingdom Tower, the world’s tallest skyscraper is now under construction in the 2,500 year-old city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. At 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) tall, and 156 stories above grade, the new tower will be the tallest building in the world. About twice the height of New York City’s Freedom Tower, the Kingdom Tower was designed by Chicago architects Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill. The Smith firm was spun off from SOM and was closely involved with the design of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (the present tallest building in the world). Scheduled for imminent groundbreaking, the Kingdom Tower will cost $1.2 billion and will be at least five years in construction. Among the investors is the Binladen Group, the Saudi real estate and construction company which is owned by the family of Osama bin Laden.
A “sky terrace” appears mushroom-like at the left side of the Kingdom Tower in this artist’s rendering. This will be the world’s highest observation deck. The building’s tapering three-sided shape will help to mitigate wind forces. A Four-Seasons hotel, luxury apartments and office space will inhabit the soaring structure. Occupants will ride to upper floors via three-story elevators traveling from lobby to observatory in 98 seconds.
Planning of the ambitious project features the skyscraper as the centerpiece of what will be a diverse mixed use development the size of a small city.
Work on the foundation began in February, 2013 with drilling for the more than five hundred deep reinforced concrete piles which will support the tower. Crews hope to complete the foundation in ten months. Construction of the tower is expected to move with impressive speed toward completion in 2018.
Other new buildings of special interest:
Legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright proposed the Illinois in 1956. This building would have stood one mile high (1,600 meters) and would have included 528 floors. The tower was in Wright’s opinion structurally feasible. The proportion of space however which the elevators would occupy on the upper floors made the project economically untenable.
The Kingdom Tower bears a suspicious resemblance to the Illinois; especially in the way that the step-backs are detailed.