Is The Pearl In 'Skyscraper' A Real Building? The Hong Kong Tower Is A Sight To Behold
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is looking to continue his stellar year at the box office with Skyscraper, an old school action movie that's meant to be an homage to classics of the genre like Die Hard and The Towering Inferno. In Skyscraper, Johnson stars as a war veteran and former FBI hostage rescuer who now assesses security for skyscrapers. His newest assignment is The Pearl, the world's tallest and most advanced building, located in Hong Kong. Things of course don't go according to plan, and that may give you pause about visiting The Pearl in real life. But you don't have to worry about that, because The Pearl in Skyscraper is not a real building.
The building is entirely fictional, and there's not really any real world skyscraper that compares to it — at least not yet. But the film's marketing department has gone all out to convince fans that it is a real building thanks to the creation of a viral marketing website touting the building's unique features. Rising 240 stories above Hong Kong, the building features a spherical glass observation deck at the top — that's where the name The Pearl comes from. Between floors 200 and 230 is a giant wind turbine located within the building, generating its own power and making it a green skyscraper. Adding to its greenness is a giant, 30-story botanical garden located on the 100th floor. There's also an Olympic-sized swimming pool, gyms, basketball courts, a driving range, a movie theater, and a six story shopping mall — in addition to luxury apartments and hotels.
In the movie, The Pearl is 3,500 feet tall, which would make it the tallest building in the world by a whopping 783 feet over the actual world's tallest building, the 2,717 foot tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai. That height differential alone is larger than New York's Met Life Tower, which was at one time the tallest building in the world. Its 250 stories would also easily be a world record, dwarfing the current title-holder Burj Khalifa's 163. The tallest building in Hong Kong in real life is the 1,588 foot tall International Commerce Centre, which is less than half the size of the fictional Pearl.
The Pearl was designed by production designer Jim Bissell, while architect and Burj Khalifa designer Adrian Smith also had some input for the more technical aspects of the building. Bissell got his idea for the building's design from an ancient Chinese fable called the Dragon and the Pearl, with the building somewhat resembling a twisting dragon with a pearl in its mouth, as he explains in the video below.
As for possible real life inspirations for The Pearl beyond the Burj Khalifa, there are a couple of buildings in China that may fit the bill — both with the word "pearl" in their names. The Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai rises 1,535 feet, and was China's tallest structure from 1994 until 2007. The building functions mainly as a TV tower, though it does feature a circular observation deck with a glass floor. Then there's the Pearl River Tower in Guangzhou. Designed with input from Adrian Smith, the 1,016 foot tall skyscraper is one of the world's greenest buildings, according to Inhabitat, and it generates its own power through a number of methods, including through the use of wind turbines like The Pearl. Outside of China, there's the upcoming Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia. Another Smith design, this megatall structure will take the title of world's tallest building in 2020 when it's topped out at 3,280 feet. That still makes it a couple hundred feet shorter than The Pearl, which was surely no accident on the part of the filmmakers.
The Pearl may not be a real building, but it's not as far-fetched as it seems. It's only a matter of time before an actual skyscraper is built that's just as tall and energy efficient as The Pearl, and hopefully by then The Rock will still be around to make sure it's safe for the rest of us.