Art History Lab

The Jeddah Tower: A Game-Changer in Architecture and Development

Jeddah Tower Background and Progress

The Jeddah Tower, also known as the Kingdom Tower, is a multi-purpose skyscraper currently under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. When completed, it will be the tallest building in the world, surpassing the current titleholder, the Burj Khalifa, by more than 500 meters.

Here’s a look at the building’s background and progress.

Initial Construction and Height

The seed for the Jeddah Tower was planted in 2008 when the Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal announced his plans to build the tallest building in the world as part of a larger development called the Kingdom City. In August 2011, the architectural firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill won the contract to design the building.

Excavation work began in 2013, and by 2014, the foundation of the tower was complete. The tower’s height was announced in August 2014, with a projected height of 1,007 meters.

Construction Progress and Halt

In early 2018, construction on the Jeddah Tower came to a halt due to labor concerns. The tower’s main contractor, Saudi Binladin Group, was found to be in financial crisis after one of their cranes toppled over in Mecca, killing over 100 people.

The company had to reduce its workforce and suspend all operations on the tower. Subsequently, a new contractor was appointed to oversee the construction of the Jeddah Tower.

Technical and Structural Considerations

Building a structure that’s over a kilometer high poses significant technical challenges. One of the biggest hurdles was developing a safe and efficient vertical transportation system.

ThyssenKrupp Elevator worked with the team to create the world’s first ropeless elevator system, called Multi, that uses magnetic levitation technology to move passengers up and down the building. Additionally, the tower’s height also presents the problem of structural swaying, which is addressed by adding a mass damper- a massive weight that reduces the building’s oscillations.

Furthermore, the excessive column settling was addressed by using a unique pile system that distributes the load of the building evenly, ensuring that no single column bears too much weight.

Exterior Design and Sustainable Features

The Jeddah Tower’s design is both elegant and innovative. Its exterior has a smooth, sloped form that adds to the building’s aesthetic appeal.

The design is also functional, reducing wind vortex shedding, which can cause discomfort and even danger at high heights. The building’s skin is made of a high-performance glass and stone, which maximizes the use of natural light and minimizes heat gain, contributing to the tower’s energy efficiency and sustainable innovation.

The Jeddah Tower will also feature a large, open-air viewing platform that provides a panoramic view of Jeddah.


The Jeddah Tower’s construction has faced its fair share of challenges. However, the innovative minds behind the project have found ways to address these challenges, leading to a building that’s sure to become a new global icon.

From the unique vertical transportation system to the functional and sustainable exterior design, the Jeddah Tower promises to be an innovative and remarkable achievement in engineering and architecture. We can’t wait to see the final product when it’s complete.

Reception and Impact

The Jeddah Tower’s construction has garnered significant attention, both positive and negative. For many, the tower represents a symbol of global corporate authority and Saudi Arabia’s standing as a cultural and economic powerhouse.

The tower’s development is seen as a sign of the nation’s economic success and ambition in the global race for iconic landmarks. However, the project has also faced criticism and skepticism from those questioning the feasibility, purpose, and social impact of such an ambitious undertaking.

Symbolism and Economic Importance

The Jeddah Tower’s construction is seen as an indicator of the Middle East’s stature in global economics, business, and architecture. The tower is a reflection of the region’s aspirations to regain its historical glory and become a dominant economic and cultural power.

The development and construction of such a towering achievement attract international attention and investment, further strengthening the region’s hold over global economic activity.

Real Estate Boom and Housing Demand

The population in Jeddah has increased significantly in recent years, leading to a scarcity of accommodation. The demand for space has been fueled by the city’s continued growth and development, which makes the Jeddah Tower an essential development project.

The addition of the tower promises to bring new living spaces and office space, contributing to the city’s expansion and development. Large-scale construction projects such as this one often lead to a real estate boom as the surrounding areas become more attractive to developers and investors, leading to further city development.

Challenges and Future Outlook

The Jeddah Tower faces numerous challenges, both on a local and global level. Here’s a look at two of them.

Arrest of Shareholders and Labor Disputes

The tower’s construction was temporarily halted following the arrest of some of the project’s key shareholders as part of the Arabian purge. The political upheaval in Saudi Arabia has also made it difficult to secure financing and materials, leading to further delays.

The detainment of some of the tower’s shareholders has also led to a labor dispute with subcontractors and laborers, who have gone unpaid or not given employment by the subcontractor. Additionally, the Covid pandemic has affected the development of the project, leading to further halts in construction.

Uncertain Completion and Potential Monument Status

The original completion date of the Jeddah Tower was 2020; however, this has been pushed back due to numerous issues. The current completion date is unknown, and many are questioning whether the project will ever be finished.

If the tower does indeed finish construction, it has the potential to become an iconic example of sustainable multi-purpose building design that could potentially change the way cities are developed globally. The future looks uncertain, but the Jeddah Tower’s importance in both the architectural and cultural world cannot be denied.


The Jeddah Tower’s construction is a complex and ambitious project with immense significance for both Saudi Arabia and the world. The tower has the potential to become an architectural symbol of the nation’s growth and economic prosperity.

However, the project also faces numerous challenges that must be overcome if it is to be completed successfully. The labor disputes, pandemic, political unrest, and unknown completion date all add to the uncertainty surrounding the Jeddah Tower’s future.

Nonetheless, the tower remains a groundbreaking development in architecture and design, and its role in reshaping the landscape of Saudi Arabia and the world will be watched closely in the years to come. In conclusion, the Jeddah Tower is an ambitious and significant development for both Saudi Arabia and the world.

The tower’s construction represents the nation’s cultural and economic aspirations and has the potential to change the way cities are developed globally. However, the project has faced numerous obstacles, such as labor disputes, regulatory challenges, and political unrest.

These roadblocks have led to the project’s delayed completion, which remains uncertain. Nonetheless, the Jeddah Tower’s potential monument status and significance highlight the changing nature of architectural and cultural development in the Middle East and beyond.

The Jeddah Tower’s future provides a compelling case study for innovation, ambition, and the challenges that come with global landmark developments.

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