Saudi Arabia is building the world's tallest tower

The news: Burj Khalifa, meet your dethroner.

Saudi Arabia is expected to break ground next week on Jeddah Tower, a 200-floor behemoth in the coastal city of Jeddah. The tower will stand 3,280 feet high, making it 568 feet taller than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, and will become the new titleholder for the tallest building in the world — for now.

The skyscraper will not only be staggeringly tall, but also expensive: It will need around 5.7 million square feet of concrete and 80,000 tons of steel. Overall, Jeddah Tower is expected to cost around $1.23 billion to complete over the next five years.

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In order to facilitate moving about the 500,000-square meter building, there will be 59 elevators, including five double deckers.

For visitors going up to the observation deck, there are super-speed elevators that travel at 10 meters per second — which means it will only take 1 minute, 40 seconds to reach the top.

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But that’s not all. Jeddah Tower is one part of a massive development by the Red Sea. The plan is to build a new town called Jeddah Economic City, which will consist of “over 5.3 million square meters of urban development including housing, commercial property, hotels, offices, shops, educational and commercial centres.” Authorities hope that it will jumpstart the economy in the region and create new jobs.

The building is designed by the Chicago-based firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; Smith also designed the Burj Khalifa. Jeddah Tower’s height and striking design are meant to “send a message of strength” about Saudi Arabia’s economic and political stability, said Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

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How does it compare to the rest of the world? Jeddah Tower dwarfs all other buildings by far. And as you can see, the US — even with the new One World Trade Center — is far behind.

Check out the video on the project: Jeddah Tower

Is there an end to the race? At some point, one building will hit the proverbial glass ceiling: There are structural limits to how far a building can physically go, and you have to consider human comfort as well.

William Baker, a structural engineer who worked with Smith on the Burj Khalifa, believes that theoretically, one could construct a building twice as high. It’s up to anyone with the money to take up the challenge.

By Eileen Shim, PolicyMic

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