April 7, 2011

A Mile-High Skyscraper Planned For Saudi Arabia

It's only been about a year since the Burj Khalifa topped out as the tallest building in the world.  Now the Saudi's are ready to one up their bankrupt neighbors.  They announced today that a mile-high skyscraper has been given the greenlight for downtown Jeddah.  It's a city whose name sounds like something from STAR WARS and the building itself certainly looks like something George Lucas might have dreamed up. But actually, the notion of a mile-high skyscraper dates back to the 1950s.

Frank Lloyd Wright designed a building called The Illinois that would have been the first to hit the mile-high mark.  His tower looked like something from Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS and would have housed about 100,000 people, 20,000 more than the building the Saudi's are planning.  (Strangely enough, the design of the Burj was reportedly inspired by his Illnois sketches.)  But Wright's building was considered unfeasible because the majority of it's slim interior would have been taken up by elevators.

He would be happy to see that someone is pressing forward with his somewhat whimisical notion. Though I'm sure he'd rather it be happening somewhere in the United States. Of course, the cost of such buildings is prohibitive for commercial developers wanting to make money. The Saudis tower is estimated to cost over 30 billion US dollars.  The new World Trade Center building, by comparison, is considered outrageously expensive at 3 billion dollars...and that building will top out at a mere 1776 feet.

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