A Latter-day Pisa Leans into the Spotlight

Abu Dhabi’s new Capital Gate tower is one for the record books.

It’s a perfect metaphor for the teetering global real-estate market: Capital Gate, the glassy tower at the center of Abu Dhabi’s $2.2 billion Capital Centre development, has just been submitted to the Guinness Book of World Records as the “world’s most inclined building,” according to the press release. (I prefer “leaningest.”)

Capital Gate practically swoons with a queasy 18-degree westward tilt, easily besting Pisa’s paltry 3.9 degrees. (The more famous building’s accidental declivity comes from a shoddy foundation and loose soil, problems that Capital Gate’s architect, RMJM, expects to stave off with a steel diagrid structure and hundred-foot-deep piles.)

The 35-story tower, which includes a five-star Hyatt hotel, should be completed next fall, but given the tanking world economy, I’m not sure the developers have fully realized its symbolic potential. Why not, for example, tie the building’s angle to the stock markets’ sinking fortunes and turn Capitol Gate into a a huge art-installation-cum-roller-coaster?

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