It looks like the Middle Eastern country is set to begin visible constructionon what is expected to be the world’s tallest building at 3,280 feet.
Kingdom Tower is expected to be 568 feet taller than Khalifa Tower, the currentÂ Guinness World RecordÂ holder inÂ Dubai, once it is completed.
The building will be the first stepÂ of Jeddah Economic Company’s approximately $20 billion, 17 million-square-foot Kingdom City project, of which it will be the focal point.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, is chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company, a partner in JEC.
“Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the new spirit of Saudi Arabia,” Adrian Smith, cofounder ofÂ Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the firm that designed the tower, said in aÂ press release.
“This tower symbolizes the Kingdom as an important global business and cultural leader, and demonstrates the strength and creative vision of its people.”
Smith details: âWith its slender, subtly asymmetrical massing, the tower evokes a bundle of leaves shooting up from the ground â a burst of new life that heralds more growth all around it.â
Smithâs partner Gordon Gill continues: âThe 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 the new growth fused with technology.â
The needle wasÂ designed to symbolise the city of Jeddah as an economic power and cultural leader, with a focus on the âstrength and creative vision of its peopleâ.
Aside from the initial âwow-factorâ of the buildingâs statistics, AS+GG have been applauded for their sensitive design aesthetic.
Talal Al Maiman, Executive Director, Development and Domestic Investments, a Board member of Kingdom Holding Company and a board member of JEC commented: âPrince Alwaleed, Mr. Bakhsh, Mr. Sharbatly and I were impressed by the boldness and simplicity of the AS+GG design. Kingdom Towerâs height is remarkable, obviously, but the buildingâs 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.â
Steve Kelshaw, managing director of Dubai-based DSA Architects International, believes that the tapering form is the best model for a tower of this height, despite the aesthetic limitations. âI donât think you could do it any other way â if you built a square design up to that height, I donât know how it would work.â
He continues: âThat shape has got the wow factor. I never fail to marvel at the design of Burj Khalifa. It is truly a magnificent building. If I was in Saudi Arabia and I saw the same structure, Iâd still be amazed. I wouldnât get tired of looking at it.â
For WSPâs Leclercq, the technical limit at the current time is 1 mile. âI truly believe that 1 mile â 1.6 kilometres â is within range. Over that, it may be possible if there are improvements in concrete quality. But 2km is too big a figure â itâs just a step too far at the moment,â says Leclercq.
DSAâs Kelshaw is similarly cynical on the feasibility of a 2km tower. âI donât know why people would want to build something 2km tall. From a developerâs perspective that canât be feasible. Just to think about that is mind blowing and I canât see it happening in my lifetime.â