News broke that Chicago firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is designing Kingdom Tower, to be the world’s tallest building, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, near the Red Sea.
At over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) 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.
It has been reported that 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.
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 AS+GG 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.”
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.
While the design is contextual to Saudi Arabia, it also represents an evolution and a refinement of an architectural continuum of skyscraper design. The three-petal footprint is ideal for residential units, and the tapering wings produce an aerodynamic shape that helps reduce structural loading due to wind vortex shedding. The Kingdom Tower design embraces its architectural pedigree, taking full advantage of the proven design strategies and technological strategies of its lineage, refining and advancing them to achieve new heights.
The result is an elegant, cost-efficient and highly constructible design that is at once grounded in built tradition and aggressively forward-looking, taking advantage of new and innovative thinking about technology, building materials, life-cycle considerations and energy conservation. For example, the project will feature a high-performance exterior wall system that will minimize energy consumption by reducing thermal loads. In addition, each of Kingdom Tower’s three sides features a series of notches that create pockets of shadow that shield areas of the building from the sun and provide outdoor terraces with stunning views of Jeddah and the Red Sea.
The great height of Kingdom Tower necessitates one of the world’s most sophisticated elevator systems. The Kingdom Tower complex will contain 59 elevators, including 54 single-deck and five double-deck elevators, along with 12 escalators. Elevators serving the observatory will travel at a rate of 10 meters per second in both directions.
Another unique feature of the design is a sky terrace, roughly 30 meters (98 feet) in diameter, at level 157. It is an outdoor amenity space intended for use by the penthouse floor.
Find more renderings and a model photo of the Jeddah Kingdom Tower in the image gallery below.