Toronto’s CN Tower used to be the world’s tallest building until Dubai’s Burj Khalifa came along in 2009. By 2020, both buildings will be trumped, because Saudi Arabia is already building the Kingdom Tower, designed by architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill. The structure will reach an astounding 3,280 feet or one kilometre high once complete.
Although you probably don’t need anybody to draw comparisons to know that the Kingdom Tower is going to push the boundaries of what it means to build a skyscraper, the facts and figures involved in making this project possible definitely stand out. The building will overlook the Red Sea and feature 200 floors (26 of which have already been built). It will cost $1.2 billion to fund the construction (Jeddah Economic Company and Alinma Investments to be exact). In order to build the tower, 5.7 million square feet of concrete will need to be poured and it will be supported by an estimated 80,000 tonnes of steel. Due to the incredible heights this tower will reach, the completed building will change shapes at various points throughout the structure so that it can withstand changing winds without toppling over.
For those who may be a little bit nervous at the thought of such a tall structure being built, don’t worry, you’re not in danger of running into it on your next commercial flight. Planes fly as high as 30,000 feet in the air, so a tower would have to be nearly 10 kilometres high to cause any real danger to humans. That said, planes can’t go higher than 12 kilometres in the air because the altitude makes the air too thin, so building towers does have its limits. Humans are indeed safe, but birds crash into office buildings every day, so it doesn’t appear they’ll be so lucky (sorry feathered friends).
If the idea of building such a huge tower seems unnecessary to you, you should know that it’s actually part of a much bigger project to build Jeddah City, a future world-class urban centre that boasts the Kingdom Tower as its centrepiece. It will truly represent what’s possible with modern-day architecture, and will definitely make other world class cities jealous. Just think for a moment that it will be more than 550 feet taller than the Burj Khalifa, nearly twice as tall as the Tokyo Skytree in Japan, which was the tallest freestanding structure in the world until 2012 at 2,080 feet. Compare that to our precious CN Tower, which stands at a measly 1,500 feet.
Don’t worry Canada, let’s not get envious. On the bright side, at least we built our tower on a shoestring budget. The total bill for the CN Tower’s construction was just $63 million in 1976. Sure we’re not accounting for inflation here, but it’s still just a fraction of what this new Kingdom Tower will cost.