Today, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai stands as the tallest building and structure in the world, at over 828 meters (2,716.5 feet) and more than 260 stories. The Empire State Building once held this title, after its speedy completion in 1931 gave it a then-towering height of 1250 feet. However, the ranking of the New York monument has dropped down to 24 in the list of tallest completed buildings. Future projections for the development and installation of skyscrapers throughout the world pose a similar fate for the Burj Khalifa in the next century.
|Burj Khalifa, the Tallest Building in the World
In February 2016, a future Tokyo-based skyscraper was announced, which has been aptly named “Sky Mile Tower” due to its projected height of 5,577 feet (1,700 meters). This would easily make this building, as part of Tokyo’s “futuristic mega city” sustainable building plan for 2045, the tallest in the world, as it is over twice the height of the Burj Khalifa. While this tower is still awaiting approval, it has the potential to house 55,000 people, along with multiple shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, and other amenities, possibly even acting as a transport hub for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop.
Additionally, the tower will be surrounded by a number of manmade hexagonal islands to defend against natural disasters, which will be, along with the tower, fitted with solar panels, wind turbines, and algae farms to provide power for the city of Tokyo. Also, addressing the potential issue of water circulation throughout the massive building, engineers have incorporated a series of tanks at various points in the structure’s design that would take water from the vapor in the air and gravitationally spread it to lower levels.
The Sky Mile Tower is not the first proposed building that would be one mile tall. In a 1956 presentation to Chicagoan businessmen, famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright presented the plans for a mile-high skyscraper that was dubbed The Illinois. One unique feature of this building was the use of atomic-powered elevators that would shoot people up to higher floors at a speed of sixty miles per hour. While his vision never came to realization, an eight-foot drawing is displayed at the Frank Lloyd Wright section of the MoMa, and it structurally and spiritually inspired the Burj Khalifa.
In addition to the Sky Mile Tower, there are several skyscrapers in development comparable to the other architectural titans of the world. The majority of these are in Asia or the Middle East. For example, while both were originally planned to be completed in 2019, Azerbaijan Tower near Baku, Azerbaijan and Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia are still under development, and will stand at 3,445 feet and 3,304 feet, respectively. Both of these will tower over the Burj Khalifa, removing its reign as the tallest building in the world.
Aspiring merely to create the tallest building in the world is always somewhat of a tragic futile effort, since the tallest building is only the tallest until another is built even higher. However, this should not stop developers and clients from creating these architectural marvels in the attempts that they make to provide needed spacing for businesses and residences, which is becoming increasingly important with a projected 70 percent world urban population by 2050. The Empire State Building didn’t fade into nothing since the many years that it lost its status as the world’s highest structure, and neither will the Burj Khalifa. However, it will be interesting to see in the upcoming decades whether projects like the Sky Mile Tower are actually going to be altering urban landscapes, or if they are each just another architect’s dreams.
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