The tallest building in the world, Dubai’s new Khalifa Tower, is “a frightening purposeless monument to the subprime era” writes The Telegraph’s Stephen Bayley. “’Less is only more where more is no good.’ I wonder how many guests squinting into the Gulf's blue skies before the sublime, coruscating, vitreous surfaces of the blasphemously vertiginous Burj Dubai at yesterday's opening ceremony knew Frank Lloyd Wright's sardonic remark.
Wright was the Welsh-American architect – part bardic mystic, part technophile, complete megalomaniac – who proposed in 1956 the Illinois Sky City in Chicago. This was an outrageous, mile-high building: 528 floors, each with a height of 10 feet. Wright's business was to shock and awe all mankind while doing what he could to épater la bourgeoisie at the same time. In 1956, there was neither the technological, nor indeed the financial, possibility of Wright's Sky City being built. It was a fantasy designed to impress. So, too, is Burj Dubai – or Burj Khalifa, the Khalifa Tower, as we must now call it, after it was renamed yesterday in honour of the president of the United Arab Emirates.”