Saudi Arabia is set to shatter the record for the tallest building in the world, with a slender, asymmetrical spire that’ll rise at least 3,280 feet in the air. That’s more than twice the size of the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the United States, and 568 feet taller than the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.
The $1.2 billion Kingdom Tower will be built in north Jeddah, the major urban center of western Saudi and an historic gateway to Mecca just off the shores of the Red Sea.
The building, by Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture pairs new developments in skyscraper technology with a sleek, “three-petal” form inspired by the folded fronts of young desert plant growth. “The way the fronds sprout upward from the ground as a single form, then start separating from each other at the top, is an analogy of new growth fused with technology,” Gill says.
The tower’s got a slick, aerodynamic shape with tapering wings that’ll help slash structural loading caused by wind. A high-performance facade is expected to drastically reduce energy consumption, and notches in each of the skyscraper’s three “petals” will create pockets of shade, shielding occupants from the harsh desert sun and providing outdoor terraces with views of Jeddah and the Red Sea.
Kingdom Tower will include a Four Seasons hotel and apartments, luxury condominiums, and Class A offices spread over roughly 3.5-million square feet. It’ll also have a sky terrace on the 157th floor (the 157th floor!) and the highest observatory in the world.
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture:
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is pleased to announce that it is designing Kingdom Tower, to be the world’s tallest building, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, near the Red Sea.
At over 1,000 meters and a total construction area of 530,000 square meters (5.7 million square feet), Kingdom Tower will be the centerpiece and first construction phase of the Kingdom City development on a 5.3 million-square-meter site in north Jeddah. The tower’s height will be at least 173 meters (568 feet) taller than the world’s current tallest building, Dubai’s 828-meter-tall Burj Khalifa, which was designed by Adrian Smith while at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Kingdom Tower will feature a Four Seasons hotel, Four Seasons serviced apartments, Class A office space, luxury condominiums and the world’s highest observatory.
Design development of the tower is under way, with construction to begin imminently. Foundation drawings are complete and the piling for the tower is currently being tendered. Kingdom Tower will cost approximately $1.2 billion to construct, while the cost of the entire Kingdom City project is anticipated to be $20 billion.
The project is the brainchild of His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, which is a partner in Jeddah Economic Company along with prominent Jeddah businessmen Samaual Bakhsh and Abdulrahman Hassan Sharbatly and Saudi Binladin Group (SBG). SBG is also the contractor for Kingdom Tower.
“Prince Alwaleed, Mr. Bakhsh, Mr. Sharbatly and I were impressed by the boldness and simplicity of the AS+GG design,” said Talal Al Maiman, Executive Director, Development and Domestic Investments, a Board member of Kingdom Holding Company and a board member of JEC. “Kingdom Tower’s height is remarkable, obviously, but the building’s iconic status will not depend solely on that aspect. Its form is brilliantly sculpted, making it quite simply one of the most beautiful buildings in the world of any height.”
AS+GG is leading an interdisciplinary design team that also includes building services engineering consultants Environmental Systems Design, Inc. (ESD) and structural engineering consultants Thornton Tomasetti. The developer of Kingdom City, Jeddah Economic Company (JEC), selected the scheme after a lengthy competition process in which SOM, Pickard Chilton, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Pelli Clarke Pelli and Foster + Partners also participated.
“Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the new spirit of Saudi Arabia,” said Smith, whose experience in supertall tower design at SOM also includes Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, Nanjing Greenland Financial Center in Nanjing, China, the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago and Pearl River Tower, now in the late stages of construction in Guangzhou, China. “This tower symbolizes the Kingdom as an important global business and cultural leader, and demonstrates the strength and creative vision of its people. It represents new growth and high-performance technology fused into one powerful iconic form. ”
In addition to its status as an architectural landmark and economic symbol, Kingdom Tower will enjoy great cultural significance. “We envision Kingdom Tower as an iconic new marker of Jeddah’s historic importance as the traditional gateway to the holy city of Mecca,” Mr. Al Maiman said. He noted that the southeast leg of Kingdom Tower’s tripedal base is on a direct line with the Ka’ba in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.
AS+GG’s design for Kingdom Tower is both highly technological and distinctly organic. “With its slender, subtly asymmetrical massing, the tower evokes a bundle of leaves shooting up from the ground–a burst of new life that heralds more growth all around it,” Mr. Smith said.
The sleek, streamlined form of the tower was inspired by the folded fronds of young desert plant growth, Gordon Gill added. “The way the fronds sprout upward from the ground as a single form, then start separating from each other at the top, is an analogy of new growth fused with technology,” he said. “We’re thrilled to be working with His Highness and Jeddah Economic Company to help define this path for the Kingdom.”