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Building a landmark: Jeddah Tower, The world’s tallest building

December 26, 2011

Chairman of Kingdom Holding Company, HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, who initiated and has been the driving force behind the decision to build the world’s tallest building in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is pleased to announce on 2nd August 2011, that the contract for construction has been signed and Kingdom Tower, with a height of over 1,000 meters, will begin construction imminently in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Kingdom Tower will be the center-piece and the first construction phase of Kingdom City, Jeddah Economic Company’s (JEC) new urban development of more than 5.3 million square meters of land in the north of Jeddah overlooking the Red Sea and Obhur Creek. HRH Prince Alwaleed commented: “This project will provide sustainable profits to Kingdom Holding shareholders.

Jeddah Tower: View from the Boulevard

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“The vision of constructing the tallest tower in the world in Jeddah belongs to HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, who was closely involved in the selection of the scheme currently under design,” said Mr. Talal Al Maiman, Executive Director, Development and Domestic Investments, a board member of Kingdom Holding Company and a board member of Jeddah Economic Company, which was formed in 2009 to develop Kingdom City in Jeddah. “Prince Alwaleed, Mr. Bakhsh, Mr. Sharbatly and I were impressed by the boldness and simplicity of the AS+GG design. 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 the most beautiful building in the world of any height.” Mr. Al Maiman added: “The decision of the partners to build the world’s tallest building further demonstrates their belief in investing in this nation.”

Five contractors were invited to offer proposals for the Kingdom Tower and a short list of three firms submitted final offers for the tower construction. The Saudi Bin Laden Group (SBG) whose offer was the most attractive in terms of price, quality and schedule was chosen for the project.

With a total construction area of over 500,000 square meters, the soaring Kingdom Tower will be a mixed-use building featuring a Four Seasons hotel, Four Seasons serviced apartments, first class office space, luxury condominiums and an observatory that will be higher than the world’s current highest observation deck. The overall construction cost of the tower is SR4.6 billion ($1.2 billion) and the overall estimated cost of the entire Kingdom City project is anticipated to be SR75 billion ($20 billion).

“We intend Kingdom Tower to become both an economic engine and a proud symbol of the Kingdom’s economic and cultural stature in the world community,” said Mr. Al Maiman, “Kingdom Tower will be a landmark structure that will greatly increase the value of the hundreds of other properties around it in Kingdom City and indeed throughout North Jeddah.”

The partners of JEC are Kingdom Holding Company, Mr. Samaual Bakhsh, Abraar, International Holding Company, prominent Jeddah businessmen Mr. Abdulrahman Hassan Sharbatly and Saudi Bin Laden Group (SBG). The capital of JEC is made up of SR8.8 billion in land value, assets that are SR7.3 billion, plus SR1.5 billion in cash contributed by SBG that further demonstrates their confidence in this extensive project. “We are confident that upon completion, Kingdom Tower will become one of the world’s great tourist destinations as well as one of the most attractive places to live and work in the region,” Mr. Sharbatly and Mr. Bakhsh expressed in a joint statement. “In the meantime, it will create thousands of jobs, spurring the local economy.”

In addition to its status as an architectural landmark and economic symbol, Kingdom Tower will enjoy great cultural significance. “We envision Kingdom Tower as a new iconic marker of Jeddah’s historic importance as the traditional gateway to the holy city of Mecca,” Mr. 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.

An interdisciplinary team led by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), based in Chicago, created the design of the Kingdom Tower. The team also included building services engineering consultants, Environmental Systems Design and structural engineering consultants, Thornton Tomasetti, engineer of three of the world’s top 10 tallest buildings. Jeddah Economic Company 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. .

The AS+GG team’s design for Kingdom Tower has been in process since May 2009. Schematic design is complete and design development is under way. Foundation drawings are complete and the piling for the tower is currently being tendered AS+GG also designed the master plan for the 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 overall Kingdom City master plan is being designed by HOK Architects.

“This tower symbolizes the Kingdom as an important global business and cultural leader, and demonstrates the strength and creative vision of its people,” said Mr. Smith, whose experience in super-tall tower design includes Burj Khalifa, Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, Zifeng Tower at Nanjing Greenland Financial Center in Nanjing, the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago and Pearl River Tower, now in the late stages of construction in Guangzhou, China. “Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the spirit of Saudi Arabia. It also represents new growth and high-performance technology fused into one powerful iconic form.”

The Kingdom Tower design 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..  The tower becomes a catalyst for increased development around it.

The sleek, streamlined form of the tower was inspired by the folded fronds of young desert plant growth, Mr. Gill explained. “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, Jeddah Economic Company and Emaar to help define this path for the Kingdom.”

While AS+GG’s 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 advances of its lineage and extends those advances to the cutting edge.

The result is an elegant, cost-efficient and highly constructible design that is both grounded in built tradition and aggressively forward-looking, taking advantage of new and innovative thinking about technology, building materials 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.

Notes:

About the Kingdom Tower Waterfront District
The area in the immediate vicinity of Kingdom Tower is known as the Kingdom Tower Waterfront District. Designed by AS+GG, the 23-hectare Waterfront District provides a cohesive and pedestrian-friendly setting for Kingdom Tower while creating a pleasant neighborhood experience along the Kingdom City lakefront.

The Kingdom Tower Waterfront District encompasses a high-end shopping mall and 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.

About Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is dedicated to the design of high-performance, aesthetically striking architecture in a wide range of typology and scale, from low- and mid-rise residential, commercial and cultural buildings to mixed-use super tall towers. The office uses a holistic, integrated design approach that explores symbiotic relationships with the natural environment. AS+GG is currently working on projects in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, China, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Canada and the United States. The firm was founded in 2006 by partners Adrian Smith, Gordon Gill and Robert Forest. For more information, please visit www.smithgill.com. AS+GG also recently launched a related energy and engineering consulting firm, PositivEnergy Practice; for more information, please visit www.pepractice.com.

About Thornton Tomasetti
Thornton Tomasetti provides engineering services to clients worldwide on projects of all sizes and complexity, with practices in building structure, building skin and building performance. Thornton Tomasetti is responsible for the structural design of some of the world’s tallest buildings, including the Petronas Towers, Taipei 101, Ping An International Finance Center (now under construction as the tallest building in China) and Federation Tower (under construction as the tallest in Russia). The firm is committed to creating the best solutions through technical ingenuity, pursuit of excellence, and responsiveness to client needs. Thornton Tomasetti is an award-winning 550-person organization of engineers and architects collaborating from offices across the United States and in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, please visit www.ThorntonTomasetti.com.

About Environmental Systems Design, Inc. 
Environmental Systems Design, Inc. (ESD) has provided engineering design solutions for thousands of buildings in the United States and throughout the world.  With over 220 engineering and design professionals, ESD is one of the largest consulting engineering firms in the Midwest. ESD offers consulting engineering design services in mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection, LEED, sustainable design, commissioning, and technology. ESD supports a diverse range of markets including commercial, health and science, education, mission critical, residential, assembly, cultural, theaters, energy plants, transportation and international. For more information, please visit www.esdesign.com