The infamous 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang has awoken from its slumber and is once again seeing construction work. It has been reported that Egypt’s Orascom group has been contracted to refurbish the top floors of what has been termed by some as the ‘Hotel of Doom.’ Construction originally started in 1987 and it was thought that the tower was a jealous response to the South’s Olympic construction boom. The structure is 105 stories high and, if it were fully finished, it would contain 3.9 million square feet of floor space. Kim Ill Sung started construction to show off the state’s burgeoning economic power. Had it been completed it would have been the tallest hotel in the world at that time, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea lost one of its main economic benefactors and could no longer afford the price tag for the project which varies depending on the source (the Wiki entry estimates the bill at US$750 million according to Japanese newspapers; the Reuters article lists South Korean sources as suggesting that the structure would cost close to 2 billion to finish the structure and bring it up to code.)
The structure has been panned by critics as a horrible design, completely unrelated to the city surrounding it.
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.
Design Aesthetics aside, the building is a great example of ‘Blade Runner’esque, futuristic architecture and is notable for being one of the few (partially) constructed examples of communist super architecture.
The North Korean Government used the hotel extensively for a number of years in its ideology, with it appearing on North Korean stamps before it was finished, and it was boasted about extensively in state media. However, after construction work ceased, the hotel came to be seen as a symbol of the state’s failure to become an economic power and was airbrushed out of pictures of the capital and, according to foreigners living in the North Korean capital, that even though the structure is so massive that it can be seen from anywhere in the city, it was impossible to get anyone to talk about it at all.
While it is unlikely that the current construction work is to ‘finish’ the Hotel, it appears that the top levels are going to be adapted for some sort of use. Perhaps Dr. Evil decided to lease some space for a new lair.
Check out the Reuters article here.
The Wiki entry is here.