Adrian Smith, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Architecture, Supertall, Supertall buildings

Super-tall tower in new film ‘Skyscraper’ based on real possibilities, says Burj Khalifa architect Adrian Smith

According to Adrian Smith, co-founder of Chicago-born firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the megatall structure in Rawson Thurber’s new blockbuster film ‘Skyscraper’ was based on “real possibilities”.

In an interview with Dezeen, Smith, who was consulted during the movie’s development, said, “Fictional skyscrapers in theory have no limits and can be designed using systems and materials that do not currently exist. This was not the case with the skyscraper in the movie since the producer wanted this to be a tower based on real possibilities.

“I was consulting on issues that tall buildings face in real life and design aspects, like wind behaviour, tower movement, elevator systems and how supertall towers can become cities within the tower, housing functions from office, hotel, residential, observatory, restaurants, health clubs, retail shopping, grocery stores and other daily needs.”

Informed by Smith’s input, the design of the film’s tower, called ‘The Pearl’ (created by production designer Jim Bissell and his team), consists of glass and steel forms that twist upwards to cradle a sphere at the top, alluding to the building’s name. Reaching 1,066m high, The Pearl would be categorised as megatall, overtaking both the Burj Khalifa and Jeddah Tower if it were built in real life.

In addition to the tower’s height, the storyline also highlighted The Pearl’s extreme safety measures, including pressurised safe rooms with reinforced fireproof concrete every 10th floor, and wind and earthquake-resistant elements.

The Pearl also featured vertical community living elements, like an interior green park located half way up the building, inviting residents to “live, work and play in the clouds”.

“The technology that it takes to design and build a supertall is daunting,” said Smith. “At one level, a skyscraper is a massive machine for living. It is a transportation system; it needs to move water, power, communications systems, air conditioning, and heating systems to every part of the millions of square feet contained within the tower.”

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