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The Illinois, Frank Lloyd Wright, 1956 / Photo: FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT FOUNDATION

Or whatever you would call it when the urge to put up very tall buildings won’t go down. Saudi Prince al-Walid bin Talal is proposing to build a mile high tower near Jeddah. Actually, word of this project has been kicking around for a while. The engineering firm Arup is involved, and preliminary designs and studies have apparently also been done by the New Haven-based architecture firm Pickard Chilton, the engineering firm Thornton Thomasetti and other outfits, but I don’t find images yet on anybody’s websites. Whether this actually gets built or meets the fate of a lot of announced and unbuilt projects is a question I can’t answer here, but the prince’s holding company plans to invite bids this summer for construction. What does seem clear is that this is the Saudi way of telling every other Gulf state or Asian contender to forget about having the world’s tallest anything. The Burj Dubai, still under construction in the emirate next door, which will be the world’s tallest building when it’s completed next year, is less than a half mile.

Any building called “Mile High” is automatically a descendant of a Frank Lloyd Wright proposal from 1956, which is that tall thing in the picture above. He hoped to see it rise in Chicago. They dodged that bullet. This was the same Wright who once called the skyscraper “Incongruous mantrap of monstrous dimensions”. You talk that way I guess until you start to think you might get to do one.