Dubai officials announced Monday that they have officially started construction on what will be the tallest building in the world, exceeding the current record-holder, Dubai's 2,700-foot-plus Burj Khalifa, Bloomberg reported.
Dubai Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum laid the foundation stone for the Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour on Monday, and officials said the skyscraper should be complete sometime in 2020, prior to the World Expo to be held there that year.
The tower, part of a new garden-themed waterfront residential development, is a joint venture between Emaar Properties and Sheikh Mohammed's Dubai Holding. The architect, Santiago Calatrava, also designed the Oculus centerpiece for New York City’s new World Trade Center Transportation Hub.
Emaar first announced the project in April, stating that the tower would be "a notch taller" than the Burj Khalifa, but details on exact height, as well as cost, have not been revealed. In addition to being part of a residential and retail development, the tower is also close to a wildlife sanctuary.
The Tower will only enjoy the position of world's tallest building if Dubai can complete construction before Saudi Arabia finishes the $1.23 billion, 3,280-foot Jeddah Tower (aka Kingdom Tower) in Jeddah City. The scheduled completion date is 2019 and officials said the skyscraper will feature offices, a residential component and a hotel.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat said that 2016 was going to be the year of "megatall" buildings — 1,968 feet or higher — and forecast that their number would more than double from three to seven in the next five years, at which time the desire to construct such tall buildings would dwindle. Advances in technology in both construction and materials are able to ensure the safety and viability of megatall buildings, but more people are reportedly questioning whether the pursuit of record-breaking heights is worth the effort. "More and more opposition groups are forming (against skyscraper developments), and even developers and architects working on skyscrapers appear defensive and even somewhat apologetic," London architect Barbara Weiss, who works to limit high-rise construction in London, told Dezeen.
In the U.S., luxury residential high-rises are often associated with gentrification and the fear of radical change to a neighborhood's character. For these reasons, critics are pushing back against skyscraper developments.
Albert Goldson, executive director of advisory firm Indo-Brazilian Associates in New York and a community development activist, told Construction Dive that these "de facto gated communities" and "vertical suburbs" don't serve the local community and that new residents often isolate themselves from the locals. In addition, said Thomas Leslie, professor of architecture at Iowa State University, these modern towers are often protest targets because they don't fit in with the existing area aesthetic.