Supertall Towers | Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill

When completed, the recently approved 1609m high Kingdom Tower in Jeddah City, Saudi Arabia, will be the tallest structure in the world. Designed by American firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the project is proposed as the center piece of a 23 square kilometer city and will provide accommodation for up to 80,000 people. The 3,500,000m2 of floor area is distributed across a mix of uses including hotels, offices, residential apartments and retail facilities.

Prior to forming Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Smith and Gill were responsible for the Burj al-Khalifa in Dubai while with American firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM). The Burj al-Khalifa is currently the tallest structure in the world at 828m.

The last time I was in Dubai was mid – late  2006, at which stage the Burj al-Khalifa super struture was pushing up past level 50, a height already substantial by any standards. Even then the tower seemed without vertical context - a condition that many super-tall towers contend with. They become their own context and this is accentuated to a even greater degree in Dubai with the completed project now standing out there on its own, several hundred meters above its neighbours. In Dubai, it couldn’t have been any other way – it works extremely well as a solo beacon of economic prowess and the building in my opinion, is one of the most stunning pieces of architecture ever conceived.

It was a pleasant surprise when I saw the Shanghai World Financial Center Tower (by American firm KPF), edging past the upper levels of the Jin Mao Tower (another Adrian Smith design), in Shanghai’s Pudong business district. All of a sudden Jin Mao wasn’t constrained by it’s own context and in fact the SWFC tower released it in a number of ways to be even more dominant. Apart from form and height, the key visible difference between the two towers is the level of detail and fenestration in the facade treatment – Jin Mao is heavily detailed and rich in shadow, color and contrast whereas the SWFC tower has almost no fenestration and correspondingly a smooth, clean and almost lifeless facade levitra over the counter.

I wouldnt be at all surprised if Jin Mao is provided even greater presence following the completion of the nearby Shanghai Tower by Gensler – which appears to have a slick / clean facade and potentially an even more lifeless appearance than the SWFC tower. While it’s an intresting form and over 200m taller than Jin Mao, the jury is still out on just how good the Shanghai Tower is.

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Beijing has a few buildings proposed that will (if completed), meet the classification of a super-tall. Currently there is only one that makes the cut – the China World Trade Center Phase III Tower at 330m by SOM.

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