Spanish 'starchitect' reaches new high with tallest building

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Jessica Jones - [email protected]
Spanish 'starchitect' reaches new high with tallest building
Photo: Emaar Properties

Controversial Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has announced plans to build the world’s tallest building in Dubai.


The project will be built by Emaar properties, the company behind the world’s current tallest building, the Burj Kalifa, and will exceed its height of 828 metres (2,716 feet). 

Top ten: Spain's ugliest buildings 

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, whose World Trade Centre Transportation Hub recently opened in New York, will design the skyscraper, which will cost an estimated one billion dollars (€900 million).

During a press conference held in Dubai, Calatrava, along with the president of Emaar properties, Mohamed al Abbar, confirmed that work on the next world’s tallest building would commence in June or July 2016 and would be completed before Dubai’s World Expo in 2020.

The as yet unnamed project, which is part of the Dubai Creek development, will be "a notch taller" than the Burj Kalifa, al Abbar confirmed during Sunday’s press conference.

Photo: Emaar Properties 

The skyscraper will be a smooth structure rising to a needle-point tip and feature observation decks filled with trees and plants as well as glass balconies that rotate outside the wall of the tower.

The tower will house a luxury hotel and 18 to 20 floors of shops, restaurants and other tourist facilities.

A world-renowned architect, Calatrava was awarded the European Prize for Architecture 2015 and in March 2016 his World Trade Centre Transportation Hub opened in New York.

But despite his many accolades Calatrava’s career has been mired in controversy. He was forced to pay millions in compensation after eaves collapsed in the parliament building in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo and many of his projects have run over by years, adding millions to the final bill.

He designed Valencia’s now iconic City of Arts and Sciences which includes a science museum, IMAX cinema and open air aquarium and is the largest collection of Calatrava’s work in the world.

Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences, designed by Calatrava. Photo: KA13/Flickr 

But the project did not go smoothly. It’s original budget was €300 million but it ended up costing nearly three times as much, becoming a symbol of the overspend on public infrastructure projects that helped send Spain into a spiral of debt.

A local Valencian politician claimed that the opera house included 150 seats with obstructed views, while the science museum was originally built without fire escapes or disabled access. 

Meanwhile the Italian city of Venice sued Calatrava over his design for a bridge after the city was hit with ballooning bills for its upkeep.



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