All eyes turn to world's tallest building

TOBY JOHNSTONE
Last updated 14:31 28/04/2014
Kingdom Tower
Jeddah Economic Company/Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.

BIGGEST BUILDING: It will be nearly twice the height of America's tallest building.

Kingdom Tower
Jeddah Economic Company/Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.
An artist's impression of the Kingdom Tower.

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It will be three times the size of the Q1 tower in Queensland, nearly twice the height of America's tallest building and soon it will look down on Dubai's desert monsters.

Construction on the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is set to move above ground this week with the difficult foundation stage now complete.

Located near the Red Sea, the megastructure will be 1000 metres tall and cost US$1.23 billion (NZ$1.43 billion) to build.

Architect Adrian Smith, who designed the building with Gordon Gill from Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, told Fairfax Media he was "thrilled" that the Kingdom Tower was under way.

"We are excited for the tower to be completed in around five years," said the Chicago-based architect who has made a name for himself as a designer of super-tall towers in the US, China, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea.

Smith designed the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is the tallest man-made structure in the world. He was working for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill at the time.

The kilometre-high Kingdom Tower will be at least 173 metres higher than Dubai's monolith.

It will feature Four Seasons hotel as well as luxury apartments, A-grade office space and the world's highest observatory.

Visitors to the tower will have 58 lifts to choose from that will travel at a rate of 10 metres per second. At that speed an express lift would reach the top floor in less than two minutes.

Some of the best views will be from the sky terrace, which will stick out the side of the tower at level 157. The terrace is intended for use by the penthouse owner.

The Kingdom Tower is part of a US$20 billion development known as Kingdom City, which is a tourist and business precinct being developed by Jeddah Economic Company.

The chief of Jeddah Economic Company, Mounib Hammoud, told Arab News last week: "The Kingdom Tower and City project is geared for Saudis, Saudi tourism, Saudi way of life, and nationals and religious visitors.

"Now, there is no destination for tourism in Arab world. Many people go to Dubai now, but once the project is ready they would like to stay in Saudi Arabia."

The tower is the brainchild of Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah.

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- FFX Aus

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