What was proposed in 2011 will become reality as The Kingdom Tower begins construction on April 27th for its bid to become the worlds tallest building. Both a residential, hotel and office building, The Kingdom Tower will be the tallest man made structure on earth as the sky scraper race continues across the globe.
Where once the former Sears Tower was the pinnacle of the great skyscraper race, towers like the Burj Khalifa has since looked down upon it as the rest of the world is reaching higher. The Kingdom Tower, a $1.23 billion dollar project, is the first phase of a development called Kingdom City that will border the Red Sea on the north side of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. As of this writing, the tower is slated to reach 3,200 feet or 1,000 meters tall. The original planned height for this building was 1.6km, just shy of one mile. Even at its reduced hight the Kingdom Tower will still top the Burj Khalifa by over 580ft and be the first building to reach the height of 1 kilometer.
The piling, going over 200m beneath the surface of the earth, and resistant to the salt of the Red Sea was completed in December of 2013 and the first serious construction will begin on April 27, 2014 according to Building Design. Construction estimates range from the official end date of 2017 to longer if the six year time table of the Burj is any indication. The tower is being designed by Adrian Smith who was also the principal architect on the Burj Halifa tower.
Some of the key features of the tower include the triangular footprint which is designed to reduce the wind loads on the Kingdom Tower. It will also feature the highest observation deck in the world including a breath taking sky terrace that juts out from the building at the 2000 ft mark which currently is described as for use by the penthouse only on floor 157.
Other sustainability features including natural air cooling from the top of the tower due to the arid environment of the region such as the Burj does in taking in the cooler air from the top of the building to use in the air conditioning of the tower. The condensation from the system will also be recycled for irrigation and other uses through the building.
The project is not without its challenges as Advances Construction Technology Services (ACTS) is already testing on how to pump liquid concrete over half a mile into the air to pour at immense heights according to the UK Daily Mail. Other issues are more economic in nature.
The leader and creator of the Kingdom Tower and Kingdom City project is Saudi Arabian Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal who is the wealthiest Arab in the Middle East and the nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulah. As chairman of the largest company in Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom Holding Company, the project is being marketed as “an economic engine and a proud symbol of the Kingdom’s economic and cultural stature in the world community,” said Talal Al Maiman who is a board member of KHC.
Even as Saudi Arabia attempts to diversify its economy from the rich oil fields to tourism and hospitality, economists have given stern warnings that projects of this size often herald a financial collapse is not far behind. The Chrysler Building and Empire State Building were both built during the Great Depressions and the former Sears Tower was built during the 1970s recession.
No matter the financial outcome of the Kingdom Tower, the project is a massive undertaking. Only time will tell if it is will ultimately be a symbol of great progress for Saudi Arabia or a very expensive lesson on hubris.
Image Source | Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture