Launch Slideshow

Sky Terrace

Kingdom Tower

Kingdom Tower

  • View from the water

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    View from the water

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    © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

    View from the water

  • Aerial view

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    Aerial view

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    © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

    Aerial view

  • Tower base

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    Tower base

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    © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

    Tower base

  • Model photo

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    © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

    Model photo

  • Sky terrace and spire from above

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    Sky terrace and spire from above

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    © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

    Sky terrace and spire from above

  • View from plaza

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    View from plaza

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    © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

    View from plaza

  • Vehicle drop-off at base

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    Vehicle drop-off at base

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    © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

    Vehicle drop-off at base

  • Sky terrace from below

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    Sky terrace from below

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    © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

    Sky terrace from below

  • Sky Terrace

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    Sky Terrace

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    © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

    Sky Terrace

  • Spire

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    Spire

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    Spire

Adrian Smith, FAIA—who led design on the Burj Khalifa while still at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill—is outdoing even himself with his scheme for the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which is slated to take over as the world’s tallest building with an overall height of more than 1 kilometer (3,280 feet). To combat the wind forces that occur with any building of this size—“the key to resisting wind forces in a tall building is shedding vortices,” Smith says—the highly reflective glass façade is continuously sloped, changing the dynamics at every floor and shrinking each successive floor plate 4 to 8 inches. The tower is supported by a central core, which is braced by 2-foot-thick concrete walls that line the double-loaded corridors in each of the three wings in the tripodal structure. The projected 5.7 million square feet of floor space will be occupied by a stacked program of office, hotel, and residential units, all serviced by a fleet of 59 elevators. A sky terrace, 100 feet in diameter, is cantilevered off of the 157th floor, roughly 2,000 feet in the air. First designed as a helipad—until “we started talking to helicopter pilots and they said ‘it gets dicey up there,’ ” Smith says—it will likely be used as a private terrace for a penthouse unit. Construction is expected to begin on the foundations soon, and the tower should be complete within the next five to six years.