Chicago Firm to Design World's Tallest Tower

The tower looks strikingly similar to a design proposed back in 1957 by Frank Lloyd Wright

By Lisa Balde
|  Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011  |  Updated 12:42 PM CDT
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Chicago Firm to Design World's Tallest Tower

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A Chicago architecture firm on Tuesday announced plans to build the world's tallest building in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, near the Red Sea.

The structure will be more than 3,280 feet tall and cost about $1.2 billion to build. It will be called Kingdom Tower.

If Illinoisians are jealous, they might have a right to be. The Land of Lincoln could have gotten the world's tallest structure first.

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, based in the city that's home to the (currently) fifth tallest free-standing structure in the world and tallest in the United States, unveiled a drawing depicting the building as long and lean, reaching a point near the top.

It looks very similar to a famous Frank Lloyd Wright design that envisioned a mile-tall building back in 1956.

Wright's concept for The Mile High Illinois, otherwise known as The Illinois, was meant to be built in Chicago, but safety concerns prevented the plans from being realized. Had it been built, it would have been even taller than Kingdom Tower.

But Chicago apparently wasn't Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill's design inspiration.

"Our vision for Kingdom Tower is one that represents the new spirit of Saudi Arabia," said Smith in a statement. Gill said the "sleek, streamlined form ... was inspired by the folded fronds of young desert plant growth."

The structure will helm a $20 billion city development called Kingdom City. Unlike Wright's project, design development is underway, according to the firm, and construction is scheduled to begin "imminently."

The Tower will include 59 elevators and a 98-foot sky terrace at the 157th level.

The firm's "supertall tower design" experience includes Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai; Nanjing Greenland Financial Center in Nanjing, China; and the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.

"This tower symbolizes the Kingdom as an important global business and cultural leader, and demonstrates the strength and creative vision of its people," Smith said.

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