8 oct 08 | The Chicago Sun-Times

Looking Up...

By David Roeder


The Chicago firm of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture has gotten one of the biggest commissions imaginable. It will design four giant complexes in Dubai worth a total of at least $15 billion. Included will be a building slated to become the world's tallest. The final height won't be disclosed until the crews are told to stop building, which is the way the government handled the Smith-designed Burj Dubai tower.

That's a zoning deal possible when the developer is Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. But with the Dubai government merging two mortgage lenders and speculative money drying up the world over, how is this project remotely viable?

Gordon Gill, interviewed from the Dubai airport, said the credit markets remain strong there. Does Dubai need continued high oil prices to build these buildings? Gill said oil is less of a concern than political stability in the Middle East, what with Iran wanting a nuclear arsenal.