Azerbaijan’s New World Wonder: More from the Tallest, Largest, Oldest Series
If you think that Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is tall at 830 meters (2,723 feet), then we’ve got some news for you. After a successful run at putting up the world’s highest flagpole (at least until Tajikistan took the title), Azerbaijan is getting ready to awe everyone again -- this time, with what it claims will be the tallest building on earth.
The Azerbaijani developer Avesta plans to stick the 1,110-meter-high (about 3,642- feet-high ) building on a chain of artificial islands off Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea shore. Completion date: by 2019. The tower -- named, not surprisingly, "Tower of Azerbaijan" -- is expected to house hotels and business centers. It may not compensate for endemic corruption, a spotty civil rights record or any other of the Azerbaijani government's oft-cited deficiencies, but it surely will attract gaping onlookers and tourism money.
One British investment bank, though, recently warned against skyscraper mania. Barclays Capital found an “unhealthy correlation” between construction of the world’s tallest buildings and financial crisis. Such projects, the Bank argues, come in the middle of a brewing economic meltdown and represent a “widespread misallocation of capital.” The bank’s report cites several examples such as the Empire State Building, erected during the US Great Depression, and Burj Khalifa, which was completed in 2009 just as Dubai nearly went bust.
But, for now, Azerbaijan, bathing in oil and gas, probably figures it can afford such architectural feats. Let's just hope the building doesn't follow the flagpole's example and threaten to topple over in Baku's high winds.