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 Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus

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PostSubject: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:23 am

Ryugyong Hotel construction continues apace – Well known to lovers of unusual architecture as well as DPRK watchers in general the 105 floor pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel in central Pyongyang is one of the most recognizable buildings in the North Korean capital. As mentioned in a previous newsletter, work resumed in May 2008 after a 16 year hiatus as a contract was signed with Egyptian company Orascom to make the building functional, if anyone knows how to build a pyramid it’s the Egyptians and although it looked at one stage as if total construction time would rival those at Giza, the Ryugyong has recently been undergoing a growth spurt with glass cladding spreading across two sides of the structure, and even the rare sight of electric lights inside being seen in the evenings as work goes on. Planned opening date for the hotel is April 15th 2012; the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung, massive events will obviously be taking place at this time so book a tour now! Of course Koryo tours will have a full range of trips on offer at that time.
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North Korea's "Hotel of Doom" wakes from its coma

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea's phantom hotel is stirring back to life. Once dubbed by Esquire magazine as "the worst building in the history of mankind," the 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel is back under construction after a 16-year lull in the capital of one of the world's most reclusive and destitute countries.

According to foreign residents in Pyongyang, Egypt's Orascom group has recently begun refurbishing the top floors of the three-sided pyramid-shaped hotel whose 330-metre (1,083 ft) frame dominates the Pyongyang skyline.

The firm has put glass panels into the concrete shell, installed telecommunications antennas -- even though the North forbids its citizens to own mobile phones -- and put up an artist's impression of what it will look like.

An official with the group said its Orascom Telecom subsidiary was involved in the project but gave no details.

The hotel consists of three wings rising at 75 degree angles capped by several floors arranged in rings supposed to hold five revolving restaurants and an observation deck.

A creaky building crane has for years sat unused at the top of the 3,000-room hotel in a city where tourists are only occasionally allowed to visit.

"It is not a beautiful design. It carries little iconic or monumental significance, but sheer muscular and massive presence," said Lee Sang Jun, a professor of architecture at Yonsei University in Seoul.

The communist North started construction in 1987, in a possible fit of jealousy at South Korea, which was about to host the 1988 Summer Olympics and show off to the world the success of its rapidly developing economy.

A concrete shell built by North Korea's Paektu Mountain Architects & Engineers emerged over the next few years. A proud North Korea put a likeness of the hotel on postage stamps and boasted about the structure in official media.

According to intelligence sources, then North Korean leader Kim Il-sung saw the hotel as a symbol of his big dreams for the state he founded, while his son and current leader Kim Jong-il was a driving force in its construction.

But by 1992, worked was halted. The North's main benefactor the Soviet Union had dissolved a year earlier and funding for the hotel had vanished. For a time, the North airbrushed images of the Ryugyong Hotel from photographs.

As the North's economy took a deeper turn for the worse in the 1990s the empty shell became a symbol of the country's failure, earning nicknames "Hotel of Doom" and "Phantom Hotel."

Yonsei's Lee and other architects said there were questions raised about whether the hotel was structurally sound and a few believed completing the structure could cause it to collapse.

It would cost up to $2 billion to finish the Ryugyong Hotel and make it safe, according to estimates in South Korean media. That is equivalent to about 10 percent of the North's annual economic output.

Bruno Giberti, associate head of California Polytechnic State University's Department of Architecture, said the project was typical of what has been produced recently in many cities trying to show their emerging wealth by constructing gigantic edifices that were not related in scale to anything else around them.

"If this is the worst building in the world, the runners up are in Vegas and Shanghai," said Giberti.

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the pictures are clearly showing that the glass cladding is being installed.





Great pic! This is how it's meant to look after completion:

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?p=29527838
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:35 am

Wow, thanks for the photos. I personally am quite interested in this edifice since I'm trained as an architect (B. Arch, Pratt).

The construction looks quite poor, and all that concrete is probably sub-standard and perhaps not even reinforced in most places. It's probably a disaster just waiting to happen. The cheap style of construction seen in Pyongyang looks reminiscent of the type of construction seen in Egypt as well, so it doesn't surprise me that an Egyptian Construction Manager took over the project.

I really wonder what the plan is like, I haven't checked it out yet. How the elevators and stairs are integrated into the design would be interesting to see.

The rendering does look like something out of Star Trek or Star Wars.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:35 am

I can't imagine that being open and exposed to the elements for 16 years would help it's structural integrety. On the forum site where I got this they have pics of the concrete falling apart - http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=630537 and someone said there were trees growing in it.

The thing is so massive it's scary. I wonder if Korea is in an earthquake zone?

Mayor, if you're an architect you should like that skyscraper city website.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:16 pm

Holy Mackrel! I took the following pic from that site. This thing is far worse than imagined!

It looks like this structure is just a massive bearing wall - in effect, one GIANT column. Perforated with windows. Which would explain the shape (larger at the bottom, small at the top). Not the way this kind of a building (or any building for that matter) should be built.

Just let them keep sticking the glass over the concrete, maybe that's all they'll do. It will be a nice illusion. Can't imagine even the most corrupt regime letting people actually stay in that thing. But who knows....

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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:20 am

Mayor_of_Pyongyang wrote:
Just let them keep sticking the glass over the concrete, maybe that's all they'll do. It will be a nice illusion.
I like what you said here. The Ryugyong could be a metaphor for the DPRK itself.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:17 pm

I have two theorys on this monstrosity:
1. They are building that giant hotel so they can make all visitors to Nk stay in one place, making it easier to keep them under surveillance - I'm sure it will be bugged to the max.
2. Jong-Il has phallis insecurity and is subconsiously compensating by building huge tall concrete monuments.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:58 pm

JIMBIALEK wrote:

2. Jong-Il has phallis insecurity and is subconsiously compensating by building huge tall concrete monuments.
LOL I think that explains it. Building tall monuments, also having pretty girls instead of traffic lights, miniskirted marching female soldiers....
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:45 pm

I found NK's explanation for halting construction ...... it's the fault of the USA!

http://www.aboutnorthkorea.com/
At 105 stories, the triangular Ryugyong Hotel dominates the Pyongyang skyline. Slated to be completed in 1989, construction was abandoned long ago, leaving a construction crane stranded atop its pinnacle. As we drive close by, we see that window panes were never installed. I mention to my roommate that the insides must be infested with pigeons. Then he points out that we have yet to see a single pigeon in Pyongyang. Urban pigeons live off the food that people discard, and I guess there isn't much of that in North Korea.

There are many rumors about why the hotel was never finished, including that the elevator shafts were built crooked. Concrete heats and distorts as it sets, and only recently has its use been perfected in the construction of tall skyscrapers. It seems foolhardy for the DPRK to have opted for concrete instead of steel back in the 1980s. But even more foolhardy is the notion of building a 3,000-room hotel in a city which gets so few visitors. And I wonder how a government that can't pull this off could be capable of building nuclear weapons.

Out of politeness none of us asks about the building, but to my surprise Dak-Ho brings it up himself. He tells us that the construction materials were being provided by fellow communist countries. When communism ended in eastern Europe in 1989, that cut off the supply of those materials to the DPRK, and "due to U.S. economic sanctions, we could not continue." It is one of several times that he will tell us of how U.S. policies have hurt his country. Even the DPRK's recent floods are "a result of global warming" and I'm pretty sure I know which country the North Koreans blame most for that.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:19 pm

Some of those points are well taken; steel has been the material of choice in constructing skyscrapers in the US, since it's so easily available. Due to recent advancements in the properties of concrete, it has been used in Asia to build very tall buildings (e.g. Petronas Towers). So it seems strange to think that the DPRK could actually pull off a 105 story concrete building. Plus it takes some intense engineering to calculate the reinforcing that must be set into the concrete....which I'm sure is lacking in the Ryugyong. Communist countires didn't have any real experience in building such structures, so perhaps the Ryugyong started out as an experiment that.....absolutely failed.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:57 pm

Let's hope it doesn't fail when it's full of people.
Another huge structure built from concrete is the Hoover Dam. Built in the 1930s, I remember reading somewhere that the concrete in it is still curing.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Thu Feb 12, 2009 8:50 am

I'd rather stay in the Ryugyong than in this thing being built in Dubai - http://www.burjdubai.com/

Being 160 stories up in a building really wouldn't seem that safe to me.
I also bet there are psychotic jihadist's somewhere just itching for this thing to be completed so they can fly an airplane into it.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:09 pm

Can you believe that this monstrosity is supposedly three times the height of the World Trade Center??

That being said, I think architecturally, the Ryugyong is a much more iconic architectural symbol of its place of being. The Burj Dubai is just "there"......that thing could be in many places. Not so with the Ryugyong.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Fri Feb 13, 2009 9:58 am

The Ryugyong was especially iconic to NK while sitting there uncompleted. Iconic and ironic.
I think a huge mass of concrete is a good symbol for the DPRK.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:07 am

Mayor_of_Pyongyang wrote:
Can you believe that this monstrosity is supposedly three times the height of the World Trade Center??

That being said, I think architecturally, the Ryugyong is a much more iconic architectural symbol of its place of being. The Burj Dubai is just "there"......that thing could be in many places. Not so with the Ryugyong.
If the World Trade Center was 100 stories, how can the Burj Dubai be 3 times taller at 160 stories? Unless each floor has double the ceiling height .........
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:22 pm

My error, it is actually twice the height of the World Trade Center.

The Burj Dubai reached its final height of 818 m (2,684 ft) on January 17, 2009. It is now approximately 240 stories high.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:01 am

240 stories??? Wikipedia says it has 160 stories. Or is it 240 stories high which includes any towers on top of it? Either way it's a nightmare waiting to happen in that area of the world. At full capacity how many people will be occupying this behemoth?? What a target!
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:19 pm

Yes, it certainly does look like a target; but do you really think that jihadists are going to destroy something in Dubai? I doubt it. They'd try to take down something like the Empire State Building or the Sears Tower before they did it in an Arab country.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Fri Feb 20, 2009 8:58 am

Murdering fanatics are murdering fanatics. They probably consider the UAE to be ultimate Muslim betrayers to Islam, being close allies with the West. The only thing worse than being a non-believer is to be a traitorous Muslim.
I don't doubt that this thing would be on their short list of potential targets.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:34 am

Well, aren't you a ray of sunshine. Although you're probably right.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:24 am

"...the lies of so many people and mass media in regard of the situation of our Ryugyong Hotel 105 floors high."

I found them talking about the Ryugyong in the KFA forum - http://www.korea-dpr.com/cgi-bin/simpleforum.cgi?fid=04&topic_id=1235833347

..... "The Hotel NEVER had structural problems as widely advertised by many ignorants." Laughing

I like reading through that forum, it's always entertaining. They're quite proud of their mighty concrete building.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:59 am

That website is hilarious. It's gottta be run by the NK propaganda ministry, comrades.
kim jong-il


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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Wed Mar 04, 2009 12:42 am

http://www.somethingawful.com/d/weekend-web/dprk-ratemymelons.php
"Only in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea can you erect a half-built pyramid shaped skyscraper in a virtually empty city center and claim that things are going swell."
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:55 am


Just an update - the "new construction" may just be cosmetic -

    Over the years, Japanese and South Korean companies have reportedly refused to take on the project because of concerns it was unstable or economically unfeasible. But the Egyptian conglomerate Orascom agreed to a face lift as part of a $400-million deal reached this year to install a cellphone network in North Korea.

    Orascom's resident project manager, Mahmoud Fawzi, said his company at the very least hoped to redo the facade to make it more attractive.

    If the Ryugyong is salvaged, it would give Pyongyang a big psychological boost. For years, North Korean guides have pretended the hotel wasn't there, refusing to answer the inevitable question from first-time visitors, "What's THAT?"

    North Korea is so embarrassed by the structure that it frequently airbrushes it out of official photographs. Now people are again showing a glimmer of pride in the building.

    One confident tour guide, Oh Keum Suk, predicted: "Come back to Pyongyang in 2012 and you can stay in a room at the top."
http://fairuse.100webcustomers.com/mayfaire/latimes0168.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:29 pm

I wouldn't stay there no matter how nice the facade is.
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PostSubject: Re: Ryugyong hotel construction resumes after 16 year hiatus   Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:57 pm

$400 million to install a cell-phone network?

Didn't know they had that kind of money to spare.
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