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08/20/2013

Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Tower to stand 1,000 metres high

1. Kingdom Tower © Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
The Kingdom Tower, designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.

What is it about extremely tall buildings that interests people and drives some corporations to compete against others for supremacy of the skies?

Is it man's ability to conquer nature?  An ostentatious show of power and wealth? Or is a greater symbolism behind the push?

The new list of the world's future tallest skyscrapers was released on Tuesday by Emporis, an international construction projects and building data provider, based in Hamburg, Germany.

"It's a prestige thing," said Matthew Keutenius, a senior data analyst at Emporis. "It is overcoming nature in some way. Making your mark."

At the top of the heap is Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Tower, which will stand 1,000 metres high when construction is completed in 2018. The building, designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture LLP, will have 167 floors and will tower over the United Arab Emirates Burj Khalifa, currently the world's tallest building at 828 m.

"Building to 1,000 metres is the limits of what engineering can do," said Keutenius. 

It is of no surprise that 7 out of the top 10 buildings are either in or are being constructed in China, where the push to urbanize the country has seen the rise of instant cities seemingly overnight. Shenzhen's Ping An International Finance Centre will be the world's third tallest skyscraper in 2018 at 660 m and with 115 floors.

"China has the economic where-with-all to do this. China has a desire to put themselves on the map in some way," Keutenius said.

 Keutenius notes there is only one tower in the Americas that can compete with what is being built in the Middle and Far East and that is One World Trade Center, set to be finished this year at 541 m and with 104 floors. The "Freedom Tower" rises high for symbolic reasons as the building stands on the former site of the twin towers that were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Tanya Talaga is the Star's global economics reporter. Follow her on Twitter @tanyatalaga

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