Developments prepare to reach mile into the sky

The Dubai skyline with Burj Khalifa, center.
The Dubai skyline with Burj Khalifa, center.

A mile-high skyscraper may be closer to reality than most people think. By 2020, construction could be underway on such a structure for completion by 2025, Timothy Johnson, the chairman of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, told Bloomberg News.

The tallest tower today is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which extends just beyond half a mile in the air. The Kingdom Tower in Jeddah will overtake the 1 kilometer milestone when it’s completed in 2018, leaving only the mile marker to be surpassed. In fact, before the recession, one Middle Eastern developer in China had eyes on building a 1.5-mile tower, Johnson said.

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The tallest towers are being built in China, which has nine of the world’s highest 20 buildings under construction, and the Middle East, where Dubai, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates combine for five of the 20 tallest buildings.

The push for the tallest tower, which is also underway in New York City, is largely an ego-driven pursuit, according to Johnson. Nations that use such structures to flaunt their wealth, largely achieved through the oil trade, need only to overcome challenges posed by traditional construction material and elevators.

“Technologically, mile-high buildings are feasible to do, you can build them now,” Johnson said. “Maybe the one-mile building will be in Africa, a place that needs to somehow say ‘look, we are also here.’” [Bloomberg] — Adam Fusfeld