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Tall, Taller, Tallest. Maybe

The next tallest tower in the world is under construction outside Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Kingdom Tower, on schedule to be completed by late 2018, combines all of the hyperbole that we design and construction professionals can dig out of our toolboxes and then some.

Originally planned to exceed the “one mile high” barrier, it has been reduced to the one kilometer or 1,000 meter height. Recently, according to Construction Week Online, Dr. Hisham Jonah, the Chief Development Officer for Jeddah Economic City, outlined some of the realities and many of the incredible facts surrounding this, the newest, tallest tower in the world at a recent Construction Week Infrastructure Summit in late March.

The Kingdom Tower will exceed the 163-story Burj Khalifa Tower in Abu Dhabi with a breath-taking 500,000 square meters (5.382 million square feet) of space on 252 floors of offices, hotel and residences. According to Dr. Jonah, there will be 167 floors available for occupancy and the building will include the highest observation platform in the world at 834 meters (2,118 feet) in the air. According to the Construction Week article, the tower incorporates new technologies that will make it the “state of the art” for construction, including elevatoring, construction cranes and mechanical systems, as well as height.

The tower is built on “friction piers” and a massive concrete mat. The piers were required when it was discovered that the site was located over two underground rivers. Additionally, the building is massive, estimated to weigh as much as 900,000 tons to meet the latest Global Construction Codes.

In order to travel the distance to the top in 1.6 minutes, there will be 59 elevators that will move at the maximum of 10 meters per second. Human bladders can only tolerate that speed when going down without causing nausea.

According to Dr. Jonah, Kingdom Tower will be the centerpiece of Kingdom City, a $21 billion (US) new sector of Jeddah that will provide 5.3 million square meters of urban development to attract new business and tourism.

The French climber Alain Robert, known as “Spiderman” for his exploits of climbing the tallest towers in the world, has said that he would like to climb the tower if it goes no higher than 1,000 meters.

This tower was designed by Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architects (AS+CG) of Chicago, the designers of the Burj Khalifa Tower. The contractors for the tower are SBG, the largest construction company in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile several other countries are supposedly planning for the newest tallest tower.