The Architects of the Burj Khalifa are Designing a Competing Skyscraper

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

The world of record-breaking property is full of strange logic and magical thinking. Now, the city that built the world’s tallest building has commissioned the architects behind it to design a new skyscraper that will claim the title of the tallest commercial building in the world. It’s called the Burj 2020.

The view from the Burj Khalifa by Guilhem Vellut; Creative Commons on Flickr.

The new building will also claim the title world’s tallest observation deck; after all, the Burj Khalifa’s deck ranks at a pathetic #3. Burj 2020 has actually been planned since 2013, but this month the developers behind the project announced they had chosen an architect: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, the Chicago-based firm that designed the Burj Khalifa (in fact, Smith and Gill were working at SOM at the time, then split off to form their own firm) along with Kingdom Tower, the kilometre-high skyscraper in Jeddah that is currently under construction.

The Architects of the Burj Khalifa Are Designing a Competing Skyscraper

The Burj Khalifa’s observation deck. AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili.

According to The National, which first reported the news, the 2020’s height hasn’t been announced yet, but it will be the tallest all-commercial building on Earth. The 2020’s Twitter account — which now seems to be defunct? — claimed in 2014 that the 2020 would reach 2,165 feet (660m), with a total of 115 floors.

That’s about 180 metres shorter than the Burj Khalifa, but the 2020’s observation deck, which will wrap the entire way around the building, will be much higher. Right now, the tallest observation deck in the world sits at about 1,600 feet (480m) in Guangzhou, China.

The Architects of the Burj Khalifa Are Designing a Competing Skyscraper

Image of the Burj Khalifa observation deck by SkyDivedParcel; Creative Commons on Flickr.

Does Dubai need another million-square-feet of office space? Keep in mind that the name “2020” is a nod to the Expo 2020, which will take place in Dubai in less than five years. As we explained back when Dubai won the bid, the $7 billion price tag of hosting the expo, which includes massive amounts of infrastructure and construction, has the potential to become an economic white whale for the UAE by driving up property speculation and incurring huge amounts of debt.

Hiring a pair of architects who are behind some of the world’s tallest buildings certainly makes it seem as though 2020 is going ahead. Whether or not that’s a good sign for Dubai? Well, it depends on who you ask. We’ve reached out to Smith + Gill and will update with more information when it’s available.