Chair: Peter Weismantle, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture


Click a presenter to see a video of their presentation, and the accompanying paper and PowerPoint presentation.

Adrian Smith

Adrian Smith

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
“The Tall Building Impact: From Local to Global”
Keith Brooks

Keith Brooks

Client Development Director
“Project Management to Maximize the Benefits of 'Vertical Cities'”
George Leventis

George Leventis

Managing Principal & Executive Vice President
“Analysis and Design of the Kingdom Tower Piled Raft Foundation”

Session Summary

As the future tallest building in the world and the first structure to climb over 1,000 meters, much attention is being paid to Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia as it slowly rises over its desert surroundings. Given its superlative status, Kingdom Tower incorporates innovation at every turn and executes a level of forethought that will turn the tower and the surrounding district into a global center of commerce and socioeconomic activity. This session explored the technical and architectural innovations that have allowed the structure to rise as well as the future impact that it will have on Jeddah and Saudi Arabia as a whole.

Adrian Smith, Partner, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, delivered the first presentation of the session. He used his time to examine the impact that iconic skyscrapers have on both their local environment and the global environment. Drawing on the Kingdom Tower and other high-profile skyscrapers as examples, Smith detailed the strategy of building iconic skyscrapers to attract attention and eventually investment to otherwise underappreciated cities. Finally, he took some time to explore the environmental impact of such massive structures, and the evolving response by architects and city planners, including a discussion of a prototype satellite city concept in China with an area of one square kilometer emphasizing that the high densities of such placemaking vastly reduces the need for parking and the use of private automobiles.

Adrian explained, "One of the things that was interesting that we tried here that we hadn't done before was to apply the ability to analyze master plans for a whole district in terms of solar impact and wind impact and be able to adjust buildings and streets to get the right amount of solar time frame – 2-hour, 3-hour, 4-hour time frames – within the public spaces and to get the proper amount of shading for a whole series of street conditions at different orientations."

The second presentation of the session was offered by Keith Brooks, Global Leader, Arcadis U.S., Inc., who extolled the virtues of strong program management in order to achieve safe and efficient construction results. Brooks began by describing the performance management objectives for Kingdom Tower as they relate to the tower’s key performance indicators. After explaining the specific routes to improved efficiency, Brooks mentioned the importance of enabling innovative planning and execution on a project this large throughout the construction process rather than applying a rigid top-down approach. Brooks then shifted his attention to the potential city-wide benefits of performance management, including efficiently integrated public transportation and civic spaces while creating 5.3 million square meters of new development through the greater Kingdom City master plan.

Brooks closed with some promising words about the practice of program management, saying "The key thing around the Kingdom Tower: there's huge amounts of innovation going on at a ll levels, but it's not just through the design. We as the program managers have to innovate and have to do some things that are very different and haven't been done before. Our role is not to report, it's not to police, its not to create a constraints on innovation; actually, it's to enable it and to forecast and predict what's coming down the track so we can manage all those moving parts in the most efficient way."

Finally, George Leventis, Managing Principal, and Alan Poeppel, Senior Principal, Langan, presented on the analysis and design of the Kingdom Tower piled raft foundation. After discussing the geotechnical site investigation, which included borings and laboratory testing to determine the general subsurface conditions, the team discussed the implementation of the structure’s foundation. Their presentation focused primarily on the complexities of designing a kilometer-high tower anchored into soft coralline limestone with a density slightly less than that of beach sand, as well as the iterative process of determining the best possible foundation design. The outcome from the research resulted in a foundation with pile depths ranging from 65 meters at the edges of the tower footprint to 105 meters directly below the core. The initial results of the foundation was then discussed as well as the process of constructing a reinforced concrete raft with a thickness of up to five meters, upon which the tower is now rising skyward. At the time of the presentation, the structure of the Kingdom Tower had reached the 25th floor.

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