In a spa town in the Swiss Alps, you'll find snow-capped mountains, chocolate, goats... and soon, the tallest hotel in the world.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by skyscrapers. A poster with the skyline of Manhattan graced the wall of my childhood bedroom. And I belong to the slowly disappearing group of people who have gazed upon New York not only from the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center, but from the viewing platform of the vanished World Trade Center too.
Now a spectacular new project is underway in Switzerland that immediately drew my attention: a skyscraper in the middle of the mountains. The location is the village of Vals, in the canton of Graubünden. Even in multilingual Switzerland, Graubünden is remarkable: with native speakers of Swiss German, Italian, and Romansh, it is the country’s only trilingual canton. This spot in a beautiful arm of the Anterior Rhine valley is home to about 1,000 people. Approximately the same number of sheep are said to live there as well, but perhaps that’s just a rumor. The planned building will be 80 stories tall and soar 1,250 feet into the sky. That’s 23 feet higher than the Federation Tower in Moscow – which currently qualifies as Europe’s tallest building – and exactly as tall as the Empire State Building minus the antenna. However, a building now planned for St. Petersburg will come in at over 1,312 feet, reclaiming the top spot for Russia. Of course, all these structures are small potatoes compared to the world’s tallest building, which boasts 2,722 feet and is located in Dubai.
The Vals tower was designed by Thom Mayne, the principal architect of Morphosis. Mayne co-founded the firm in Los Angeles in 1972. He has taught at various Ivy League universities and at UCLA, and won the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 2005. Morphosis beat out seven other competitors for the Vals project.
As planned, “7132” – named for the town’s postal code – will be an unusually slender structure. Measuring just 101 feet long and 59 meters wide, it will stretch into the heavens like a transparent needle. A rendering of the finished building depicts a delicate, ethereal tower so barely visible against the sky that it almost appears to merge with the clouds. It’s likely that the style of illustration was chosen to make the building appear less dramatic than it will actually be in real life. In any case, it’s clear that the reflective, ultra-skinny tower will pose a real challenge for birds.
“7132” will house a hotel and about 100 luxury apartments that will command dizzying prices. Word has it that a double room will cost at least 590 Swiss francs (or $617). Some accommodations will stretch over the entire floor, providing guests with a 360-degree view. There will be a spa, gym, ballroom, library and gallery. The experience is meant to evoke the glory days of early Swiss tourism, with the legendary Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St. Moritz. The tower will be the tallest hotel in the world – beating out the current record holder, the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai, by 85 feet. And it is supposed to be one of the world’s five best hotels as well....MUCH MORE