The Kingdom Tower by Adrian Smith
+ Gordon Gill Architecture

| 26 comments

Kingdom Tower

Here's the first set of images of the Kingdom Tower, about to begin construction in Jeddah and set to be the world's tallest building at over 1000 metres.

Kingdom Tower - world's tallest building to be built in Jeddah

The design is by Chicago firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.

Kingdom Tower

Smith also worked on Dubai’s 828 metre-tall Burj Khalifa, which opened last year and is currently the world's highest tower, while working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

Kingdom Tower

The project forms part of a 23-hectare waterfront district, masterplanned by the same studio.

Kingdom Tower

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Kingdom Tower

Here are some more details from the architects:


Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is pleased to announce that it is designing Kingdom Tower, to be the world’s tallest building, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, near the Red Sea.

At over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) and a total construction area of 530,000 square meters (5.7 million square feet), Kingdom Tower will be the centerpiece and first construction phase of the Kingdom City development on a 5.3 million-square-meter site in north Jeddah. The tower’s height will be at least 173 meters (568 feet) taller than the world’s current tallest building, Dubai’s 828-meter-tall Burj Khalifa, which was designed by Adrian Smith while at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Kingdom Tower will feature a Four Seasons hotel, Four Seasons serviced apartments, Class A office space, luxury condominiums and the world’s highest observatory.

Design development of the tower is under way, with construction to begin imminently. Foundation drawings are complete and the piling for the tower is currently being tendered. Kingdom Tower will cost approximately $1.2 billion to construct, while the cost of the entire Kingdom City project is anticipated to be $20 billion.

Kingdom Tower

AS+GG is leading an interdisciplinary design team that also includes building services engineering consultants Environmental Systems Design, Inc. (ESD) and structural engineering consultants Thornton Tomasetti. The developer of Kingdom City, Jeddah Economic Company (JEC), selected the AS+GG scheme after a lengthy competition process in which SOM, Pickard Chilton, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Pelli Clarke Pelli and Foster + Partners also participated.

“Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the new spirit of Saudi Arabia,” said Smith, whose experience in supertall tower design at SOM also includes Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, Nanjing Greenland Financial Center in Nanjing, China, the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago and Pearl River Tower, now in the late stages of construction in Guangzhou, China. “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 project was announced today by His Royal Highness Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, which is a partner in Jeddah Economic Company along with prominent Jeddah businessmen Samaual Bakhsh and Abdulrahman Hassan Sharbatly and Saudi Binladin Group (SBG). SBG is also the contractor for Kingdom Tower.

“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 JEC. “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.”

Kingdom Tower

In addition to its status as an architectural landmark and economic symbol, Kingdom Tower will enjoy great cultural significance. “We envision Kingdom Tower as an iconic new marker of Jeddah’s historic importance as the traditional gateway to the holy city of Mecca,” Al Maiman said. He noted that the southeast leg of Kingdom Tower’s tripedal base is on a direct line with the Ka’ba in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.

AS+GG’s design for Kingdom Tower is both 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,” Smith said.

The sleek, streamlined form of the tower was inspired by the folded fronds of young desert plant growth, Gordon Gill added. “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. “We’re thrilled to be working with His Highness and Jeddah Economic Company to help define this path for the Kingdom.”

While the design is contextual to Saudi Arabia, it also represents an evolution and a refinement of an architectural continuum of skyscraper design. The three-petal footprint is ideal for residential units, and the tapering wings produce an aerodynamic shape that helps reduce structural loading due to wind vortex shedding. The Kingdom Tower design embraces its architectural pedigree, taking full advantage of the proven design strategies and technological strategies of its lineage, refining and advancing them to achieve new heights.

Kingdom Tower

The result is an elegant, cost-efficient and highly constructible design that is at once grounded in built tradition and aggressively forward-looking, taking advantage of new and innovative thinking about technology, building materials, life-cycle considerations and energy conservation. For example, the project will feature a high-performance exterior wall system that will minimize energy consumption by reducing thermal loads. In addition, each of Kingdom Tower’s three sides features a series of notches that create pockets of shadow that shield areas of the building from the sun and provide outdoor terraces with stunning views of Jeddah and the Red Sea.

The great height of Kingdom Tower necessitates one of the world’s most sophisticated elevator systems. The Kingdom Tower complex will contain 59 elevators, including 54 single-deck and five double-deck elevators, along with 12 escalators. Elevators serving the observatory will travel at a rate of 10 meters per second in both directions.

Another unique feature of the design is a sky terrace, roughly 30 meters (98 feet) in diameter, at level 157. It is an outdoor amenity space intended for use by the penthouse floor.

AS+GG also designed the master plan for the 23-hectare Kingdom Tower Waterfront District, which surrounds the tower and which will include residential and commercial buildings, a shopping mall, high-quality outdoor spaces and other amenities. The Waterfront District provides a cohesive and pedestrian-friendly setting for Kingdom Tower while creating a pleasant neighborhood experience along the Kingdom City lakefront.

The district encompasses a high-end shopping mall designed by AS+GG, plus additional development parcels that accommodate commercial and high-density residential uses, offices, two luxury hotels and high-quality open spaces, including the central Tower Plaza. A serene waterfront promenade connects Kingdom Tower, the various development parcels, the open space areas and the mall together. The result is an exciting mixed-use area that offers a concentrated and comprehensive experience including vibrant shopping, entertainment and open-space amenities. The Waterfront District also provides an array of connections to other areas within Kingdom City’s overall master plan, designed by HOK Architects.

  • juanjovargas

    maybe not the right moment to do it

  • AlBalad

    This project has been over the place for quite a few years now. Firstly it was a "1-mile" tower (1.600 m), then it just became a "1-kilometer" tower, with different designs and architects.

    The site is in a village called Obhur, around 20-30 km. north of Jeddah itself (and probably around 40-50 km. North of the Old Town), that now is largely a desert area, and there are around just some beach/diving clubs and weekend villas (it is not far from the sea and the coral reefs). However Jeddah is very-fast growing city and that area has been quickly urbanized during the last 5 years.

    The word on the street is that the developer bought most of the lands in the area at low price (it was desert after all) and then they resold them at much higher prices because of those announcements of the "highest tower in the world", so people flock to buy plots having in mind future returns.

    I wonder if this is the definitive building though. Kingdom Holding is the largest private company in Saudi Arabia and they already built what now is probably the contemporary icon of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom Tower in Riyadh: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_Centre, so they definitely have the resources to do it.

  • Adrian Short

    “Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the new spirit of Saudi Arabia,” said Smith.

    Come back when women are legally permitted to drive.

    • halim bachik

      'the new spirit of Saudi Arabia' does not necessarily have to include that women are legally permitted to drive. it can be a new spirit for anything, as how any catch phrase-text-write-up for a project has become… as long as you have the money, you can do what ever you like.

    • Khalid

      I agree there are social problems that need to be addressed but u can't expect change to happen overnight from a young government grappled by extremist fundamentalists. Not All Saudi Arabians support what is happening in Saudi Arabia. I speak on their behalf. Even if your comments are to target the social impediment of a country like Saudi Arabia

    • Rob

      In fairness, the spirit of Saudi Arabia appears to be “I have a massive penis, honest” so this’ll fit right in.

  • http://www.amonle.com amonle

    … of course because there is SO much demand, and, you know, there's so little land available that it's at a premium
    time for a crash in the gulf … oh wait, we've already had one

    (apologies for cynicism)

    • Khalid

      I agree there are social problems that need to be addressed but u can't expect change to happen overnight from a young government grappled by extremist fundamentalists. Not All Saudi Arabians support what is happening in Saudi Arabia. I speak on their behalf. Even if your comments are to target the social impediment of a country like Saudi Arabia, be mature enough not to sound so racist. You pretend to be the better guys, but it's so hypocritical how you come up with such prejudiced comments. Comment on the design. It may be visually and conceptually outrageous, but keep it clean guys!

  • No one

    Foolish or not mind your own business.

  • Adi

    A typical example of "My shaft is bigger than yours". An unnecessary environmental disaster. Its depressing how sustainability has been sacrificed for making an unnecessary, loud, over the top, fashion statement. On one hand we have Masdar Headquarters. On the other we have nonsensical pile of excreta like this.

    • Sea Bass

      Masdar headquarters has been cancelled…..

    • taofeekat

      definitely a "my shaft is bigger than yours" thing. i mean, what exactly do they need this for? Architects should learn to say 'no' to these sort of project when we have issues of global warming and sustainability at hand. sort out primary issues first before moving on to the secondary otherwise we have acts of folly like this one.

  • http://twitter.com/danbulgen @danbulgen

    lol we are in a recession, the eurozone is collapsing and the US have had their credit rating downgraded and struggling to deal with its debt and the answer is to commission unnecessary projects such as this?

  • Greenish

    Compensating much?

  • suyog

    there are very few features mentioned about its self sustainability, we should try and create structures which are self sustainable rather then trying to create worlds tallest structures.

  • babel

    looks like contemporary babel tower

  • joseph

    This is the drirection Frank Lloyd Wroght predicted we’d go and bam look at us now… great mann that was

  • Conguill

    I am a little baffled how the design of the world's tallest tower can be credited to Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture without any reference to the design structural engineers. I know this is a general policy on Dezeen but surely this example takes it into the realms of farce…

  • http://www.awholeworldtoknow.com Jim O'Donnell

    Skyscrapers are all about insecurity and a desperate need to show off.

  • Chris

    Yet another awful design from yet another awful American Architect. American's shouldn't be allowed the use of CAD software.

    • Philip

      *Americans (not American's). Insults are a little bit more effective when they use proper punctuation.

      – an American

  • sjefke

    All that tribal hubris waiting for the romantic ruins in the sand, unlike stone, these will have a lot of sharp edges. Not one indigenous solution, shame!

  • Gert

    Did somebody mention Frank Lloyd Wright? Yes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Illinois.jp

  • http://fb.com/abdophoto Abdulrahman Hadid

    So they hired the person who did the tallest skyscraper to do the tallest skyscraper.

  • Kenneth Smythe

    Misallocation of resources that will in time be revealed to be a Chicxulub precursor.

  • Aaron

    Putting the dick in ridiculous.