4 aug 11  | WTTW Chicago Tonight

Kingdom Tower

by Jessen O'Brien

On August 2, Chicago firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS + GG) announced that it plans to design Kingdom Tower, which—at over 1,000 meters and with a total construction area of 530,000 square meters—will be the world’s tallest building. Adrian Smith joins us on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm with more on the project.


Located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Kingdom Tower will be situated near the Red Sea and will rise at least 173 meters higher than the world’s current tallest building, Burj Khalifa in Dubai (828 meters tall), which was designed by Adrian Smith while at Skidmore, Owings & Merill.
“Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the new spirit of Saudi Arabia,” said Smith. “This tower symbolizes the Kingdom as an important global business and cultural leader, and demonstrates the strength and creative vision of its people. It represents new growth and high-performance technology fused into one powerful iconic form.”

The Jeddah Economic Company, the developer of Kingdom City, chose AS + GG’s design as part of a competition. His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, the nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and the chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, came up with the idea for the tower. The Prince is partnering with The Jeddah Economic Company, as are various other prominent Jeddah businessmen. Kingdom Tower is expected to cost roughly $1.2 billion, and Kingdom City a total of $20 billion.

“Prince Alwaleed, Mr. Bakhsh, Mr. Sharbatly and I were impressed by the boldness and simplicity of the AS+GG design,” said Talal Al Maiman, Executive Director, Development and Domestic Investments, a Board member of Kingdom Holding Company and a board member of the Jeddah Economic Company. “Kingdom Tower’s height is remarkable, obviously, but the building’s iconic status will not depend solely on that aspect. Its form is brilliantly sculpted, making it quite simply one of the most beautiful buildings in the world of any height.”

In addition to the world’s highest observatory, Kingdom Tower will contain a Four Seasons hotel, Four Seasons serviced apartments, Class A office space and luxury condominiums. However, its purpose is not only to be a technological feat and economic interest, but also a cultural landmark.

“We envision Kingdom Tower as an iconic new marker of Jeddah’s historic importance as the traditional gateway to the holy city of Mecca,” said Al Maiman.

AS+GG seeks to make the design both organic in appearance and environmentally sound in nature. The tower’s form as inspired by folded dessert fronds, and the structure has a three petal footprint. AS+GG is working with Environmental Systems Design, Inc. and Thornton Tomasetti among others on the project.

“With its slender, subtly asymmetrical massing, the tower evokes a bundle of leaves shooting up from the ground–a burst of new life that heralds more growth all around it,” Smith said.

The Tower will have a high-performance exterior wall to ensure minimal energy consumption by reducing thermal loads. Each of the building’s sides will possess a series of notches to create shadows and allow for views of the surrounding area. A sky terrace on level 157 will provide approximately 30 meters of outdoor space, and the building will also feature 59 elevators, including ones to and from the observatory which will travel at a rate of 10 meters/second.

“The way the fronds sprout upward from the ground as a single form, then start separating from each other at the top, is an analogy of new growth fused with technology,” said Gill. “We’re thrilled to be working with His Highness and Jeddah Economic Company to help define this path for the Kingdom.”