The Saudi Arabian government’s ambitious plan to build Neom, a city in the desert about the size of Massachusetts costing upwards of $500 billion, was first revealed in 2017. But details of one of the components of the project, a planned 75-mile long skyscraper that would be the largest structure in the world once completed, have just been unveiled. The Mirror Line would entail two buildings cutting through the desert in a northwest region of the country and rising up to 1,600 feet tall.
Plans for the project also include a high-speed train that would run underneath the building, which would be connected by walkways, a sports stadium 1,000 feet in the air, and housing for 5 million people. The project is owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund and seeks to draw foreign investment and create jobs. Several high-profile architectural firms based in North America are part of planning the project, including Morphosis Architects, Thornton Tomasetti and Montreal-based WSP Global. “They are going for something that has never been done before,” said Javier Quintana de Uña, chief executive at the nonprofit group Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
A project of such enormous scale would have numerous obstacles, like a lack of sunlight due to the shade created by two buildings running parallel to each other, according to the plan’s documents. One of the most mind-boggling challenges would be almost unheard of in the construction world—how to adapt a project to the Earth’s curvature. The buildings are so vast in size that they would need to include gaps at the top of the structures in order to literally bend them around the world. The project is in some ways reminiscent of Telosa, billionaire Marc Lore’s vision of a sustainable, utopian city built in a desert area of the U.S. that would house a population of 5 million. These kinds of projects would face a lot of hurdles and potentially take decades to complete. But building an entire city in a desert isn’t unheard of—just look at Las Vegas and Dubai.