Above: A rendering of
the Kingdom Tower in
Below: Burj Khalifa in
OPEC bulletin 2–3/14
Manhattan’s famous art deco skyscrapers
TheChrysler Buildingwas constructed in1930witha very
modernistic art deco style of architecture. At 319 metres
inheight andwith77 floors, it reigned as the tallest build-
ing in the world, but only held that honour for one year.
Around ten blocks south, the infamous Empire State
Building made its grand debut the year after, surpassing
its neighbourhood rival by 25 floors and 62 m in height.
At 381 m, it became the tallest building and the first to
break the 100-floor mark, reaching 102 floors.
These buildings could be considered the grandfa-
thers of the skyscraper and are surely considered classic
masterpieces of modernist urban architecture. However,
in terms of sheer height and floor space, the skyscraper
has evolved rapidly since the turn of the century, reach-
ing new limits never before considered possible.
A rapid evolution — upward
The scope of this evolution is mind-boggling. In the mid-
dle to late 1880s, the first skyscrapers were built in the
UnitedStates, loosely defined as any building with ten to
20 stories. The advent of these higher structures was the
result of an increased need for office space triggered by
industrial and commercial growth, and the corresponding
increases in population, especially in the cities.
By the late 20
century, use of the term skyscraper
wasexpanded todescribebuildingsofexceptionalheight,
usually more than 40 to 50 floors high. That trend has
continued until today. Now we are even looking at sky-
within a few years from now.
From super tall to mega tall
As these buildings have climbed higher and higher up
towards the heavens, the Council on Tall Buildings and
Urban Habitat (CTBUH), which rates and ranks the tall-
est skyscrapers around the world, has had to come up
with two special definitions to categorize these soaring
In past years, the term super tall was routinely used
to describe buildings over 300 m high. But now, as tow-
ers rise to over twice that height, we are entering the era
of the mega tall buildings, which describes skyscrapers
reaching upwards of more than 600 m — twice as tall as
the Eiffel Tower.
This elite club currently includes three buildings: The
Burj Khalifa in Dubai (UAE), the Shanghai Tower in China
and theMakkah Royal ClockTower Hotel inMecca (Saudi
Arabia). Get ready though, because this club is about to
expand asmore buildings reach new and record heights.
The tallest 20 in 2020
According to its December 2011 report
The Tallest 20 in
: Entering the Era of the Megatall, CTBUH projects
that by the year 2020, the 20 tallest buildings will all be
more than 500 m tall. Of these, the tallest eight will meet
the mega tall classification, some of them even towering
more than one kilometre up into the troposphere.
being built in Asia, at least three of them will be located
in the Middle East, all in OPEC Member Countries.
Burj Khalifa in Dubai
The sleek and elegant Burj Khalifa, already mentioned
previously, has been the tallest building in the world
since it was inaugurated in
2010. It is 828m tall and has
an almost unimaginable 163
floorsof space, which isused
for residential and business
It is designed to be the
focal point of a large-scale
development that includes
30,000 homes, nine hotels,
three hectares of parkland,
19 residential towers, the
Dubai Mall and a 12-hectare
man-made lake.
This reigning king of the
skieswillnotbeon the throne
for much longer, though, as
buildings continue to climb
higher and higher.
sports, where barriers are
constantly being surpassed,
the building of skyscrapers
has entered the race and
will achieve a new milestone
with the construction of the
Kingdom Tower in Jeddah,
Saudi Arabia.
© Jeddah Economic Company/
Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture
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