Photo Special: The Ryugyong Hotel
The construction of the 330m tall Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea began in 1987. The building was intended to be completed in time for the World Festival of Youth and Students in June 1989; had this been achieved, it would have surpassed the Westin Stamford Hotel to become the world’s tallest hotel and ranked the seventh-tallest building in the world.
It has a total of 360,000 m² (3.9 million ft²) floor space and 105 stories and was designed to have 3,000 rooms, 7 revolving restaurants, casinos, nightclubs and Japanese lounges.
In early 1989 builders faced issues with crumbling concrete and problems with the elevator shaft forcing the opening to be delayed. Construction came to a complete halt in 1992 due to funding problems, electricity shortages, and the prevailing famine.
The alleged problems associated with the hotel led some media sources to dub it “The Worst Building in the World”, “Hotel of Doom” and “Phantom Hotel”.
Estimates suggest that the North Korean government spent in excess of $750 million, or 2% of the country’s GDP, on the hotel up to this point.
In April 2008, after 16 years of inactivity, an Egyptian firm, the Orascom group, has ventured to restore the hotel. Workers started installing glass panels on the concrete shell of the 105-storey building.
An official with the Committee for Cultural Relations With Foreign Countries told the Los Angeles Times in 2008 that the refurbishing of the Ryugyong Hotel would be completed by 2012, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the birth of “Eternal President” Kim Il-sung.
An Orascom official indicated that the goal of the refurbishment was to facelift the structure’s facade and make it more visually appealing.
Work on the building’s exterior is expected to last until the end of 2010, at which point it will be safe to begin interior work, which will last until 2012 or beyond, according to Orascom chief operating officer Khaled Bichara. The completed Ryugyong will be divided among hotel accommodation, apartments and business facilities.
The photos in the gallery below show the tower around 2007 before work had begun to enclose the upper floors in glass. In other images you can clearly see one side of the hotel completely clad in glass, along with the completion of the outside covering of the upper floors.
Video of The Ryugyong Hotel filmed circa 2006.
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