Ryugyong Hotel is an impressive 105-story building located in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital. Its shape resembles a pyramid and its height is about 330 meters. According to Calvin Chua, an architect involved in urban architectural design who also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, the building was supposed to look like a mountain (not a pyramid) as mountains are symbolic figures for the country's history.
The framework of the structure was completed in 1992 but, due to lack of resources, the subsequent works paused for 16 years. If it was operational, it would have more than 3,000 rooms and 5 restaurants.
The building's inclination is about 75 degrees and is made out of reinforced concrete, an unusual fact as such skyscrapers are usually made out of steel. "It was built like this because the upper levels needed to be lighter. They didn't have advanced construction materials, so it was built entirely in concrete. You can't achieve a slender tower that way, you need to have a massive base with a tapered top. If you look at the history of construction in North Korea since the end of the Korean War, most of the buildings are made of concrete: That's the material that they are familiar with, and the technology transfer between Soviet or communist states is purely based around concrete," Mr. Chua, stated.
An attempt to alter the fate of the hotel started in 2008 when Orascom, an engineering construction company based in Egypt, took over the construction works. Glass and metal panels were installed in the windowless building at a cost of $180 million and the hotel was completed in 2011. Kempinski Hotels, a hotel group that handled the management, stated that the facility would open in 2013, a plan that was later aborted when the company announced that the marker was not currently ready.
Moreover, the probability of an opening decreased when the building's integrity was highly doubted. Some stated that the building techniques and the materials used were inadequate. "Judging from the exterior, the building looks structurally sound, although the interior may be a different story," Mr. Chua, added.
The "Hotel of Doom" received focus again in 2018 when its facade was lightened using a LED panel. Regarding whether the hotel will ever open or not, Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Group, a Chinese travel agency, commented: "It's very hard to say, because since the building was clad in glass, you can't see inside. No doubt something's going on. It's a very large building. It's not inconceivable that some part of it may open before the whole of it could open. If it was my building, I'd focus on the top and the bottom."