Only one possible shape for Kingdom Tower, says bid architect


The vast majority of competition entries for Jeddah’s Kingdom Tower used a tapered design, according to a top architect behind an unsuccessful bid from SOM.

The winning design for the 1km-high tower – the brainchild of billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal – was submitted by AS + GG, a firm run by former SOM architect Adrian Smith.

George Efstathiou, consulting partner for SOM and an architect behind the Burj Khalifa, said: “Prince Al-Waleed put all the competitors in one room with all their models. What was interesting was that all of the submissions, except for a couple, were tapered towers. They all looked very similar with the same basis profile.”


He explains that the taper is needed to address the sizeable wind load at great height. “The structure costs would become so high in a straight tower, and the movements would be untenable. The firms with high rise experience knew they had to taper, or change the shape a little bit, or roughen the surface in order to confuse the wind,” he added.

Efstathiou, who was crowned Architect of the Year at the 2011 Middle East Architect Awards, added: “We thought it would be difficult for the client not to select us, given that we had just finished the Burj Khalifa and we had the same team of engineers and architects. At the end of the day it came down to a beauty contest.”

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