New World's Tallest Building to Continue Modern Trend
Architectural rendering of Kingdom Tower, a building designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill that is set to become the world's tallest building in 2016.
Credit: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Construction will soon go forward of Kingdom Tower, a giant skyscraper planned for the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. When complete, the sleek, kilometer-tall building will be the world's tallest.

An investment firm headed by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will pay the Binladen Group, a construction firm, 4.6 billion riyals ($1.2 billion) to erect the tower over the next five years. Housing offices, a hotel, luxury condos and the world's highest observation tower, it will stand as the centerpiece of a 100-billion-riyal development planned for the area called "Kingdom City."

If it adheres to its construction timeline and does indeed reach unprecedented heights in 2016, the Kingdom Tower will continue a modern trend: Recently, the height record has changed hands every six years. [Infographic: World's Tallest Buildings Back to Back]

At 3,280 feet (1,000 meters), Kingdom will dwarf the current tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which stands at 2,717 ft (828 m). Burj Khalifa swiped the record in 2010 from Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan. That 101-story skyscraper became the tallest in 2004, surpassing the Petronas Towers, dual skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that overtook Chicago's Willis Tower in 1998.

The Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) was the last building to hold the world record long enough to settle in and get comfortable — it was tallest for 25 years. It was also the last member of an American dynasty of reigning buildings, having overtaken the World Trade Center towers in New York City in 1973, which themselves overtook the Empire State Building in 1971. That structure held the record for 40 years, topping the Chrysler Building a few blocks away in 1931.

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