After a few false starts and a lengthy delay, the world’s tallest tower has finally been given a start date to begin construction. When it is completed, the Kingdom Tower will eventually stretch 3,280 feet into the Saudi Arabian sky, but up until now it hasn’t even gotten off the desert floor. In 2012, crews sunk a 330-foot-deep foundation into the sand but not much else has happened since then. Now the project has been given an April 27, 2014 start date and things are finally moving ahead.
The building will cost 1.2 billion dollars to construct and when it is completed, it will be over 550 feet taller than the current tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. The developer plans to include a luxury hotel, apartments and condominiums, and the world’s highest observatory. The project will be jointly managed by companies EC Harris and Mace and was designed by the architectural firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill.
Although we have a start date, there are still plenty of questions that remain unanswered. The complex will contain 59 elevators and the observatory elevators will travel 32 feet a second. But we aren’t sure how the elevators will work, since current technology only allows for cables that extend 2,000 feet. It is also unclear just how high and how rapidly an elevator can go without having an impact on the human body. We also have no idea what, if any, consequences there are for humans living that high up in the sky.
The tower will be built with energy conservation and life-cycle considerations in mind, and developers hope to achieve something that is both ground-breaking and traditional. Ultimately the building will no doubt have new challenges and requirements that human beings have never addressed before. But building the world’s longest bridges required a leap of faith and the Kingdom Tower won’t be any different.
Images courtesy of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill