Towering Threats? The next tallest structure looms
Despite being tight-lipped about details, the Kingdom Tower is well on its way, feeding into the theory that for each tall edifice comes a catastrophic economic crisis.
November 15, 2011 3:49 by Eva Fernandes
More than a year ago we heard murmurs of Saudi’s plans to build a tall enough to give the Burj Khalifa competition and then some—and that was it. Since then we’ve heard little about the ambitious tower, which is why we assumed the tower went the way of the Trump Tower, the Palm Deira and other such unrealistic real estate projects: to Ambitious Projects Limbo.
But words of the key architect on the Kingdom Tower suggest that plans are well underway with construction expected to start as early as the coming January. Adrian Smith is the man of the moment; yes, this loyal chap is the mastermind behind the Burj Khalifa, too. Oh well we can’t deny him being able to take his career (and the people of Saudi) to the next level—after all, what do you do after designing the world’s tallest tower? Beat your own record, of course.
Speaking to The National, Smith said: “The project is moving rapidly. We have actually advanced the design to a high level of detail.”
He also spilled the beans on some never heard before details about the larger-than-life structure. Though Kingdom Holdings are yet to reveal the exact height of the tower, we know the tower will be at least 1 km (just as Nakheel’s Trump Tower was supposed to be). The tower will also be home to a six-storey sky palace which will begin on the 158th floor and will consist of a 2,787 square meter apartment. The sky palace will have its very own 25-meter sky terrace which was initially intended to be a helipad until pilots expressed their concern over the feasibility of the landing conditions given the high altitude and wing conditions. Oh well, guess the residents of the Sky Palace will have to use the elevator like all of us mere mortals to get up the 158 floors. You win some, you lose some!
So though the sky palace will be without its sky helipad Adrian Smith is quick to point out that the Kingdom Tower will also have more balconies than the Burj Khalifa-so there! The score stands at: Kingdom Tower: 1, Burj Khalifa: not enough balconies.
Though dearest Smith is brimming with confidence in the market value, increase of the land value and the economy developing, Kipp can’t help but be bitterly reminded by the rather unfortunate case of the Burj Khalifa. It has been a couple of years since the tower has opened its well guarded and glorious doors to tenants but is yet to boast of a completely full tenancy.
Does Jeddah even need the world’s next biggest tower? When we are talking about a kilometre-high building, we are talking about thousands upon thousands of premium retail space. Realistically speaking are there enough tenants who can afford to fill up the tower? Or would even want to live in it? Keep in mind that we are not talking about a tiny Gulf state here, we are talking about the vast population of Saudi Arabia with a significant ‘99%’ population, if you get our unnecessarily vague drift.
LOOMING GLOBAL MELTDOWN
All this talk of building the largest tower reminds Kipp of the Skyscraper Index. If you aren’t familiar with the theory, the Skyscrapper Index was formulated in 1999 by economist Andrew Lawrence. He spotted a correlation between the construction of the world’s tallest building and the onset of an economic crisis.
Lawrence points to several instances in the past century which show a direct correlation between the two, including: the construction of the Singer Building and the Metropolitan, which preceded the economic panic of 1907; the completion of the Empire State Building just after the onset of the Great Depression; the construction of the World Trade Center in 1972 and the stagflation of the 70’s; and finally, the erection of the Petronas Towers and the Asia Crisis of the late 90s.
Extending his theory, we can add the construction of the Burj Khalifa and the recent/current financial crisis to the list.
With the Eurozone crisis, the 99 percent occupying every damn public space in the States and inspiring like-minded 99 percenters globally to follow suit and the worries of a double dip recession on the lips of every doomsday preacher, we can confidently say Mr.Smith’s words do not worry us at all. Not one bit!