Source:  www.msnbc.msn.com

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia unveiled plans Tuesday to build the world’s tallest tower — a mixed-use structure that will rise two-thirds of a mile high — in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.

Kingdom Tower Jeddah
Kingdom Tower Jeddah

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal signed a $1.23 billion contract with Bin Laden Group for the proposed tower, which will take just over five years to complete. The building is the centerpiece of the planned Kingdom City development being built outside Jeddah by Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holding.

“Building this tower in Jeddah sends a financial and economic message that should not be ignored,” Prince Alwaleed told reporters. “It has a political depth to it to tell the world that we Saudis invest in our country despite what is happening around us from events, turmoil and revolutions even.”

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, a Chicago architectural firm, has been selected to design the Kingdom Tower, which will feature a Four Seasons hotel, serviced apartments, Class A office space, luxury condominiums and the world’s highest observatory.

When completed, the 1,000-meter-plus (3,280-foot-plus) tower would replace Gulf neighbor Dubai’s 828-meter (2,716-foot) Burj Khalifa as the tallest tower in the world. The Burj Khalifa was built by Emaar Properties for a total cost of $1.5 billion.

Adrian Smith + Grodon Gill Architecture A model of Kingdom Tower's sky terrace.
Adrian Smith + Grodon Gill Architecture A model of Kingdom Tower's sky terrace.

The exact final height is still a closely guarded secret, though it will be at least 173 meters (568 feet) taller than Burj Khalifa.

“It is not 1,000 meters. It is more, could be more by many meters… The figure is secret, only a small number of people know,” said Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of Saudi King Abdullah.

Kingdom Tower will contain 59 elevators and 12 escalators.

The design for Kingdom Tower is highly technological and distinctly organic. “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,” Adrian Smith said in a press release.

The sleek, streamlined form of the tower was inspired by the folded fronds of young desert plant growth, Gordon Gill added in a statement. “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,” he said. More info

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