Reaching New Heights: World’s tallest skyscraper planned for Riyadh

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Plans for the world’s tallest skyscraper have been unveiled, a new 2-kilometer-high building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Architect’s Journal announced that Foster + Partners, a world-renown firm that is also overseeing the design of what will be the world’s largest airport, the King Khalid International Airport, has brought forward the plans for the new skyscraper that would be double the height of the Burj Khalifa. Reportedly, the plans have been backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) which will be located north of Riyadh, close to the King Khalid International Airport. Project costs and timelines have not yet to be announced.

The proposal would be the country’s second prominent attempt to build the world’s tallest building. Designed by Adrian Smith + Gill Gordon Architecture, the 1,000-metre-high Jeddah Tower is currently under construction in Jeddah. Construction begun on the tower in 2013 and has been on hold for a while, with work on the site resuming only last year.

Saudi Arabia’s mega projects

Foster + Partners has completed numerous projects in Saudi Arabia. This includes the Al Faisaliah Tower that when completed in 2000 was the country’s tallest building. Furthermore, 5 years ago, four high-speed rail stations designed by the company were opened. Along with this skyscraper and the Riyadh airport, Foster + Partners is working on two other airports. Construction begun on the Red Sea International Airport in 2021. It is also designing a private airport terminal and control tower for a luxury resort on the Red Sea coast.

Other Foster + Partners projects

The proposed record-breaking skyscraper would be more than four times higher than Fosters’ current tallest structure, the JPMorgan Chase World Headquarters. Standing at 423m-tall, the building is located at 270 Park Avenue, New York and is nearing completion. The Saudi capital’s current tallest structure is the 10-year-old PIF Tower in the city’s King Abdullah Financial District. This stands at 385m and was designed by HOK and local architecture and engineering company Omrania.

Jeddah Tower

Jeddah Tower or Burj Jedda was designed by Adrian Smith, the same Architect behind the Burj Khalifa. The project is led by prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, nephew of the Kings of Saudi Arabia after Ibn Saud. He is the chairman of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), which is a partner in the Jeddah Economic Company (JEC), which was formed in 2009 for the development of Jeddah Tower and City. Construction paused in 2018 due to labor problems with a contractor following the 2017–2019 anti-corruption campaign that saw many contractors and investors of the project arrested. No timeline for completion has been provided since however, in September 2023, a new request for proposals was issued to a multinational group of construction firms to complete the project.

Jeddah Tower - The Skyscraper Center

Jeddah Tower’s 50-hectare plot, along with surrounding buildings, will be the first of a three-phase Jeddah Economic City development. Additionally, the three-phase project was proposed for a large area of undeveloped waterfront land with an area of 5.2 km2. It is envisioned to grow into a new district of Jeddah.

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