It wasn’t that long ago that buildings like the Sear’s tower and Taipei 101 were sufficiently tall and iconic. Then Arab money gets involved and we see an incredibly sleek and impressive tower by SOM now called the Burj Khalifa. A building so tall it is epically frightful to think about the structural systems being cantilevered into the sky. With that said, there is another developer aiming to out build the Burj Khalifa in less than a year. While I am sure that the building will be carefully designed and engineered, it is scary enough to see one of the world’s finest Architecture firms design one and carefully assemble over 6 years, not to mention under a year. Introducing developer Zhang Yue, who recently assemble a 57 floor tower in 19 days. Incredibly impressive timeline considering that even fast paced tenant improvements usually take longer than that- like 5 months more. There are a number of issues, proper footings, welding inspections, weather, the list can go on, however, the fast paced project will set precedence for construction schedules. Let me ask this question: why does the tallest building in the world need to be built in 9 months, faster than most any skyscraper in the world? I hope that the answer isn’t greed or an unrealistic desire to be the best.
As someone who has an interest in urbanism and city planning, a building can be the identity of a city and I think can be vital to tourism and financial investment. Take the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Disney company’s investment into the city of Los Angeles has created a stream of revenue and investment across the city. The primary motivator for investors just being that a large corporation invested serious money into an icon. The Burj Khalifa is another great example of this: a slender sleek tower in the middle of the desert aiming to impress the wealthiest in the world. With that said, sky city reminds me more of the South African Vodacom tower, which is now a slum.
In most cities, skyscrapers are exclusive and with the exception of the podium and public spaces that may or may not be provided are shut off to the world around. If sky city wants to be successful, it will need to properly address the urbanistic challenges of getting people in and around the building. With a base the size of warehouses the building will be incredible massive and if not properly addressed could become the world’s tallest abandoned project or slum.