Chicago architect outdoes himself with world’s tallest structure (again)

kingdom tower

If all goes according to plan, the tallest building in the world — designed by a Chicago architect — will be upstaged by an even taller building, designed by the same architect.

The buildings are in different places. The existing 2,717 ft. Buj Khafila in Dubai was designed at Chicago architects Skidmore, Owens & Merril (SOM) by then-design partner Adrian Smith.

Smith, who departed SOM in 2006, and partner Gordon Gill, have designed an even taller structure under construction in Saudi Arabia.

The Chicago Tribune has reported that Kingdom Holding Co., chaired by billionaire Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, says one of its affiliated companies has reached a $2.2 billion deal with a Saudi investment firm to complete the skyscraper and a surrounding complex.

The new three-pronged skyscraper, previously known as the Kingdom Tower and renamed the Jeddah Tower will reach 1 kilometre (3,280 ft.) high — at least 563 ft. taller than the Burj Khalifa.

According to the architects’ website, the skyscraper will contain a hotel, offices, apartments, condominiums and the world’s highest observatory floor. The building will have a 157th-floor “sky terrace,” which the architects describe as “an outdoor amenity space intended for use by the penthouse floor.”

The tower will form the centerpiece of a district being built near the Saudi city of Jiddah and the Red Sea. Published reports have said it will have 170 stories.

In an email to the newspaper in December, Smith said construction has reached the 26th floor and that work is proceeding at the rate of about one floor per week. “Construction did not stop” before the financing was announced, he wrote.

The developer has pushed the tower’s opening to 2020 from the previously announced target of 2018. But completion “could be sooner,” Smith wrote.

It will be more than double the height of another Smith/SOM-designed project in Chicago, the 1,389-foot Trump International Hotel & Tower, the Tribune reported. And it will be nearly double the height of New York’s One World Trade Center, which, at 1,776 feet, is America’s tallest building.

A rendered view of the completed Jeddah Tower (Rendering from Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture)



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