Nakheel draws up secret plan for mile-high tower

How Nakheel planned to make history with most ambitious skyscraper ever conceived

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By  Sean Cronin Published  October 9, 2005

Nakheel has drawn up sensational plans for a mile high tower, which would dwarf every other skyscraper in the world. The amazing revelation is contained in a secret memo seen by Construction Week, which reveals details of the incredible project. It also refers to a meeting that took place earlier this year in the US, where top engineers and designers from Bovis Lend Lease and Thornton Tomasetti discussed drawings for the tower. Three outline designs were at that point under consideration, including one that incorporated an entertainment ride at the top of the building — where part of the thrill would be generated from the sway of the structure. The memo detailed plans for a 1600m building — which would be around twice the height of the Burj Dubai. High rise expert Dennis Poon was one of an elite group consulted on the project. Poon is the managing principal of Thornton Tomasetti and led the structural engineering team for Taipei 101 in Taiwan — currently the tallest tower in the world. Contacted in New York this week, he said: “I am afraid I can’t say too much about that; I hope you understand my situation.” Senior Bovis Lend Lease engineer Dennis Prude was also consulted on the project. He said: “I believe we have fulfilled that contract — I worked on it for five or six months. I was dealing with constructability issues.” Japanese contractor Taisei Construction was earmarked to build the tower and architectural practice PEI Partnership was chosen by Nakheel to work on the initial designs. The current status of the project is unknown, but it is understood that the mile high tower may have been mothballed following the appointment of James Wilson as Nakheel’s chief executive in February, who arrived at the company from IFA — one of the biggest investors in Nakheel’s Palm Jumeirah and Waterfront projects. Former Nakheel director Mounir Haider was involved in the project before leaving the developer to join Abu Dhabi-based Sorouh Real Estate following a management shake up earlier this summer. Revelations of the plan will raise eyebrows in the developer community, but two of the world’s top structural engineers who spoke to CW this week say there is no reason why a mile high tower cannot be built. “I can’t see a reason why this (constructing a mile high building) cannot be done, but I don’t think we will see a step change, it will be more incremental. “We need to have time to develop the design and construction skills that are needed,” said Mohsen Zikri, director at the London office of Arup. The main barriers to construction on this scale would be economical rather than structural according to Kamran Moazami, director of WSP Cantor Seinuk — the designer of the Freedom Tower in New York and the Shard of Glass in London. He said: “As a structural engineer I would like to see it, but I’m not sure it is something people would want to build. Most super tall buildings lose money.” Nakheel was unavailable for comment. (see page five)

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