End in sight for Ryugyong Hotel?

Baikdoosan Architects & Engineers-designed hotel in North Korea destined to open next year after 26-year construction

by Sian 09 November 2012
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    This week, social media forum Twitter has been alight with news that the Baikdoosan Architects & Engineers-designed Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea is due to complete in summer 2013. Construction began on this modern-day pyramid back in 1987 but has hit many speed bumps over the years leading to a construction period of 25 years to date.

    The 330m-high hotel topped out in 1992 however construction was paused in the same year as North Korea was hit with an economic crisis following the fall of the Soviet Union. Work picked up again in 2008, restoring life to the project which had stood for six years without windows.

    At the end of last week, hotel operator Kempinski announced that it was taking control of the complex, with Reto Wittwer, Chief Executive of the company confirming that Ryugyong Hotel will ‘partially, probably’ open for business in summer next year.

    This announcement was followed by much scepticism from the media who have tracked the building’s progress over the years and termed it the ‘Hotel of Doom’ for its troubled construction schedule. The Guardian ran an article by Justin McCurry in Tokyo entitled ‘Tall storey’ and Twitter-users blasted the hotel’s form, calling it an ‘eyesore’ (@LightfootTravel) and ‘weird’ (@YOlivia28).

    That the Ryugyong Hotel’s silhouette is unusual is undeniable. Its staggered pyramid form would be more at home in the sky-scraping cities of Dubai or Shanghai rather than the relatively low-rise skyline of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Like Renzo Piano’s The Shard in London - also due to open next year - this angular beast of a hotel towers over its neighbours in the urban realm.

    Images of the hotel’s interior were published recently following a visit by tour operator Koryo Group and show bare concrete walls and an immense light-filled atrium. Plans are for the lower floors to be utilised as retail and commercial outlet with the upper section used as the main hotel.

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