Posted by: distributorcap | January 4, 2010

Up The Ladder To The Roof

Come up the ladder to the roof
Where we can see heaven much better
Come up the ladder to the roof
Where we can be, where we can be mmm…
where we can be…closer to heaven
To heaven-stay

When it opens in mid-January, the Burj Dubai will become the world’s tallest building, world’s tallest freestanding structure and the world’s tallest anything else. The opening of this architectural marvel comes right on the heels of the near-bankruptcy (or maybe the everything but in name bankruptcy) of its home – the Emirate of Dubai.

For the past decade, Dubai (one of the seven Emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates) has gone on a construction shopping spree. The interesting thing is that Dubai has very little oil. Abu Dhabi is the Emirate that got all the oil. Most of the money earned by the Emirate of Dubai has been from finance, tourism, trade and real estate (and a lot of good PR). But what Dubai built was not only a skyline that rose from the sands of the desert (let’s not forget the indoor ski slope and the man-made islands in the Persian Gulf, islands shaped like a globe and like a palm tree), Dubai also built itself a house of cards.

While Dubai teeters on default (only to be rescued by oil-rich Abu Dhabi – who cannot fathom having a bankrupt city state less than an hour away), the opening of the Burj Dubai should bring something else to the attention of Americans – the obvious fact that America has lost its technological and inspirational edge to many other nations, not only Dubai, but China, Malaysia, Korea and other Asian countries. If urban landscapes represent something about the growth and development of a nation – the US lags well behind many other nations, including Dubai.

When the Burj Dubai opens, the rank of the tallest buildings (or free standing structures) in the world will be:

1. Burj Dubai (Dubai) – 2,684′ (more than 1/2 mile high)
2. Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower (China) – 2,001′
3. CN Tower (Canada) – 1,815′
4. Ostankino Tower (Russia) – 1,772′
5. Willis Tower (USA) – 1, 730′ (includes antenna, formerly Sears Tower)
6. Taipei 101 (Taiwan) – 1,671′ (was tallest building until Burj Dubai)
7. Shanghai World Financial Center (China) – 1,598′
8. Oriental Pearl Tower (China) – 1,500′
9. John Hancock Center (USA) 1.500′
10.Petronas Twin Towers (Malaysia) – 1,483′

  • The KVLY-TV Antenna in North Dakota is 2,063′ and is the tallest structure in the US.
  • The Warsaw Radio Tower in Poland stood at 2,121′. It collapsed in 1991.
  • The World Trade Center (North Tower) in NYC stood at 1,727′ (with the antenna) until it was destroyed (along with the South Tower) on Sep 11, 2001. The towers would have ranked #6.
  • There are 23 other TV Towers in the US that stand at 2,000′

The first 1,000′ structure was the Eiffel Tower in Paris, completed in 1889. From 1931-1973, the Empire State Building in NYC was the world’s tallest building at 1,454; (including its antenna). The Willis Tower, the World Trade Center and the Hancock Center all surpassed the Empire State Building in the early 1970’s.

As of 2010 – 61 of the tallest 100 structures in the world are in Asia. In the past 15 years – 61 of those 100 have been built, with 53 of them in Asia. Kind of says something.

There are several other planned 2,000’+ buildings under construction or being planned. They are:

  • Digital Media Center (Korea) – 2,100′
  • Tokyo Sky Tree (Japan) – 2,080′
  • Shanghai Tower (China) – 2,073′
  • Pentominim (Dubai) – 2,028′ (which will be the tallest all-residential building)
  • Incheon Tower (Korea) – 2,000′

The Chicago Spire, the only American building planned for 2,000′, has a hold on construction. The Freedom Tower in NYC, being built on the site of the World Trade Center – will top out (as of now) at 1,776′ – if it is ever completed.

I am not advocating building skyscrapers for the sake of being called “world’s tallest” (something that was most assuredly done in Dubai) – but we are not seeing (and have not seen) the daring architecture and soaring towers as symbols of American spirit, innovation and determination. With the current economic crisis largely brought on by the world of real estate – it is unlikely we will be seeing any grand projects in the US anytime soon.

The soaring towers (and cities) of Asia are just another symbol of how America let’s its economic fortunes slip away.



  1. i have an ever-increasing fear of heights, and this post didn't make it any better. i have to go lie down now.

  2. I was thinking about the Burj Dubai and the recent credit crisis. It occurred to me that it was a symbolic modern day Tower of Babel. Some of the "build it, expand it at whatever cost" is going to be the undoing of many companies and governments. (Not from a biblical standpoint, just practical)That being said, I agree that the innovated spirit of America needs to be reinvigorated.

  3. I was thinking more of "She's buying a stairway to heaven".No fear of heights here. I was one of many who took the asbestos out of the space needle 600ft in the air.

  4. So, who the hell is going to fill the Burj Dubai? Goldman Sachs? Because I understand a lot of foreigners (and I'm guessing that's people and businesses) high tailed it out of Dubai since they jail people who don't pay their debts. Just saying.

  5. A hideous structure, without any visual interest. They say, good architecture is architecture that feels good, looks good, and works. Bad architecture never feels good because it either looks bad, or doesn't work, or both.The only achievement of Burj Dubaiis its height — as if height alone is enough. But imagine if you work on the 160th floor and the time and energy to get from lobby level to your office or cubicle each day?At least those of us in the west who own and drive cars can now see where our money has gone everytime we put 10 gallons of regular gasoline in the tank.

  6. Like politics, just another dick-waving contest. My skyscraper can beat up your skyscraper!

  7. Greetings,My name is Barbara O’ Brien and my blogging at The Mahablog, Crooks and Liars, AlterNet, and elsewhere on the progressive political and health blogophere has earned me the notoriety of being a panelist at the Yearly Kos Convention and a featured guest blogger at the Take Back America Conference in Washington, DC.I’m contacting you because I found your site in a prominent political and health reform blog search and want to tell you about my newest blogging platform —the public concern of health care and its reform. Our shared concerns include health reform, public health, safe workplaces, and asbestos contamination.To increase awareness on these important issues, my goal is to get a resource link on your site or even allow me to provide a guest posting. Please contact me back, I hope to hear from you soon. Drop by our site in the meantime—,Barbara O’

  8. All this smacks of the usual "my dick is bigger than your dick" doesn't it? But thanks for all the tall information…and my neck has a definite crick in it just from reading!

  9. The US invented tall buildings that were functional as well as just plain old big, there was a big rivalry between New York and Chicago to have the tallest.All the new skyscrapers in Asia were probably built with US Dollars, earned via Wal-Mart.

  10. Sobering, man. Sobering.

  11. I insist Burj Dubai is a copy of Emerald City, from the Wizard of Oz.But I suspect with Yemen heating up, & the plane underwear bomb incident & the general ongoing instability of the Middle East….People are going to be spooked about visiting the region from the US. I swear I hear the words al qaeda & terrorism about 100 times within a 2 hour period yesterday. I'm guessing there will be a mass exodus from Dubai playground of the oober wealthy as tensions rise.

  12. the above removed comments are from the racist no_slappz

  13. The Burj Dubai was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago, Illinois. It is based on the "bundled tube" design that was also used by SOM in the Sears Tower.

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