Imagine a particularly intricate and improbable piece of engineering that would uproot the Statue of Liberty, pedestal and all, from New York Bay and place it on top of the Burj Khalifa.
Now take a second Lady Liberty, all 93 metres of her, and balance this on top of the first. Only now do you have a structure to match the height of the proposed Kingdom Tower in Jeddah.
Due for competition by 2018, the Kingdom Tower will not just snatch the crown of the world's tallest building from Dubai, but also become the first building to rise above 1,000 metres.
Side by side, the two buildings could be sisters, soaring towers of glass that rise from a wide base to a needle spire that seems to pierce the sky. But their design is not the only thing they have in common. When it comes to the tallest of the tall, these days location is as important as engineering.
Earlier this year the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat released its annual report for 2012. The organisation, which studies trends in city architecture, is based in Chicago, a city once celebrated for its skyscrapers.
These days, though, the council must cast its net a little wider than the Windy City. and even far beyond the shores of the United States.
Three out of the five tallest buildings competed last year were in Dubai, led by the 413 metre Princess Tower in Dubai Marina, which is also the tallest residential skyscraper in the world. Dubai also boasts the tallest hotel in the world, the 355 metre JW Marriott Marquis Dubai which opened last month.
Seven of the top 20 were in China and three in Saudi, including the year's biggest, the 601 metre Makkah Clock Tower, one of only two buildings to be awarded "megatall" status by the council.
Other cities in the top 20 include Panama and Hanoi, while Abu Dhabi made it with the completion of the Nation Towers on the Corniche. But only one North American city can claim a place in the top 20: The Trump International Hotel in Toronto, down in 15th place.
As Dr Anthony Wood, the executive director of the CTBUH, points out, 2012 actually saw a slight decline in the number of tall buildings finished, something he attributes to the continuing impact of the world recession.
Yet at the same time, last year was still possibly the second most successful in history for skyscraper completion.
Dr Wood describes the pattern in the Middle East as: "Interesting." The global downturn hit construction in places like Dubai hard, yet the city is still up there. What has happened, says Dr Wood, is that initially "work stopped or slowed on buildings that were half way through competition. Last year saw a lot of those buildings finished."
In general, though, while cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to push upwards, much of the future construction will take place further east, in Asia.
In countries like China, tall buildings are an effective way of housing large numbers of people, as the population migrates from the countryside to the cities. In the Middle East, tall buildings are more of a statement of intent. The Burj Khalifa, says Dr Wood, is part of "A financial model based on a making a grab for business and tourism."
In that sense, the Burj represents Dubai's push to become a world city, and the costs of its construction need to be set against that bigger picture. At the same time, the 829 metre tall structure, which includes apartments and a luxury hotel, is not simply an expensive marketing tool for the Emirates. The "wow" factor of being in the shadow of the tallest building on Earth has pushed up land values all around the Burj, creating an economic ripple effect that benefits the whole city
Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/environment/kingdom-tower-burj-khalifa-and-the-era-of-the-megatall-buildings#ixzz2Okv29bRh