Straddling the corridor between King Fahd Highway and Olaya Street lie two of Riyadh’s most famous landmark towers, representing the absolute pinnacle of architectural design.
First to completion in May 2000 was the Al Faisaliah Centre, designed by Sir Norman Foster and Partners on behalf of HRH Prince Bandar bin Sa’ud bin Khaled. The tower was Riyadh’s very first skyscraper, reaching a height of 269 metres (881 ft) – just taller than the UK’s Canary Wharf. Owned by the King Faisal Foundation, profits from the site are used to underwrite philanthropic activities throughout the world.
Al Faisaliah, which has a square base which tapers to a lantern at the summit, boasts a 5-star 224-bedroom hotel, 100 apartments and 30 floors of office space, whilst at the top of the tower is a huge golden geodesic sphere called The Globe.
From this gallery on a clear day you can get the most fantastic views of the capital and beyond.
The first three levels boast one of Riyadh’s most popular shopping arcades with 180 stores – including Harvey Nicholls and a selection of 25 fast food outlets on level three. Beneath the ground level plaza is an enormous underground room with the world’s largest single support column-free concrete arch ceiling. This room is used for the hosting of prestigious wedding parties.
The building itself is clad in anodised aluminium panels with large cantilevered sun shading devices that minimise glare and allow the use of non-reflective, energy efficient glass. And inside, there is a 79-foot wide by 265-foot high stained glass window by British artist Brian Clarke which is the largest stained glass work ever produced.
It’s almost impossible not to be able to find Al Faisaliah. You can reach it by driving south down Olaya Street or northbound up King Fahd Highway.
Al Faisaliah shopping entrance:
24o 41.3’ N , 46o 41.1’ E
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