Architects Compete for Massive Mecca Makeover

Vast complex to be tripled in capacity to fit Hajj pilgrims
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 28, 2008 1:45 PM CST
Architects Compete for Massive Mecca Makeover
Thousands of Muslims circle the Kabaa inside and outside the Grand Mosque, during Eid al-Fitr morning prayers in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008.   (AP Photo/Issa Mohammad)

Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid are among the 18 architects reportedly in the running for the daunting job of remaking Mecca: designing a mosque complex to accommodate the 3 million pilgrims making the yearly Hajj. The "new architectural vision" would more than triple the complex's capacity and make it the highest-occupancy building in the world, reports the Independent.

Neither of the architects thought to be frontrunners would comment on the remodeling plans, which are thought to be bankrolled by the king of Saudi Arabia. The multi-part project is expected to first expand the al-Haram mosque, followed by "revisiting the whole area of the central district." Proposals will be presented to the king at the end of this month. (More Mecca stories.)

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