Standing Tall

Did Frank Lloyd Wright Influence Burj Khalifa?

Though Dubai’s Burj Khalifa was revealed last week as the world’s tallest building, some are asserting the title should be shared with Frank Lloyd Wright, whose Mile-High Illinois skyscraper reportedly influenced the record-breaking design. But Burj Khalifa’s chief architect, Adrian Smith, and chief engineer, Bill Baker, say that’s not the case. The Chicago-based masterminds behind the Dubai tower both denied the similarities to Wright’s design for the Mile-High Illinois, which he revealed in 1956 in their home base. Wright’s structure was deemed unfeasible and never became a reality, but did become an architectural legend. When the new half-mile-high structure debuted in Dubai, critics continuously drew comparisons. Externally, the skinny, tall, and jagged buildings seem similar, but they are distinct structurally. Smith says the Burj Khalifa design was actually inspired by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s 1921 unbuilt plans for glass-sheathed towers in Germany and Chicago’s Lake Point Tower, which was completed in 1969. The architect hopes skeptics will reconsider their thoughts about those in glass houses.