Racing for the world’s tallest building

June 19, 2013 6:16 pm

Currently, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is constructing the one-kilometre “Kingdom Tower,” built by Kingdom Holding in Jeddah. The $1.2-billion project will feature a hotel, plus a retail and luxury residential project.

However, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been eyeing other cities, including Shanghai, Moscow, London and New York, as possible locations to build a one-mile-high skyscraper that would be the world’s tallest building by far. Kingdom Holding will also handle the new project, yet the prince has also enlisted the help of Dubai-based developer Emaar Properties. The structure is expected to reach ground level by the end of this year and to be completed by 2017, said Talal Al Maiman, executive director at Kingdom Holding.

Qatar also announced, this year, that it, too, would be constructing the world’s tallest building, once it finds a suitable location in its capital city, Doha. Ezdan Real Estate chairman, Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Al Thani, told the Qatar Tribune about the project in March, but gave no further details.

Earlier this year, it was also reported that the Abu Dhabi Group had signed an agreement with Pakistan’s property tycoon and founder of Bahria Town, Malik Riaz, to build the world’s tallest building in Karachi. However, the group refuted claims one month later, saying the agreement did not, in fact, involve building the world’s tallest tower.

In 2009, Abu Dhabi turned down a proposal to construct a tower that would
outdo the Burj Khalifa, due to its failure to find a home for it in the capital.
The frontrunner, so far, seems to be China, after it announced last year its plans to build the world’s tallest building by the end of 2013, and in only 90 days (even though, as yet, it hasn’t broken ground). Titled Sky City, it would be constructed by Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) and include 1,610,000 square meters of space spread across 220 floors. Like the other candidates, Sky City will also feature a mix of residential, commercial, retail space and capacity for between 70,000 to 120,000 people. BSB estimates the cost of the project to be roughly $536 million. Construction of the building, which will be located in Changsha, will start this June.
China is no stranger to tall structures, with almost half of the world’s 20 tallest skyscrapers under construction there today.

Prior to the Burj Khalifa’s opening, “Taipei 101” in Taipei, Taiwan, which opened in 2004, was the world’s tallest inhabited building, standing at 509.2 metres. Even though other towers at the same time stood higher, it is not always easy to be labeled the world’s tallest. Due to the continuous disagreements over how to measure height and classify structures, engineers have struggled to create clear definitions for categories of buildings and other structures, with some being already created. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an organization that certifies buildings as the “World’s Tallest”, recognizes a building only if at least 50 percent of its height is made up of floor plates containing a habitable floor area.
Dubai Marina currently houses the world’s tallest residential building, the Princess Tower, standing at 414 meters high, and the world’s tallest hotel, the JW Marriott Marquis on Sheikh Zayed Road, standing at 355 meters high.