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The Tallest Building In Africa Will Open This Year And Was Designed By A Team Of Women

By Kelsey Marie

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By the end of 2019, the financial center of Johannesburg, known as Sandton, will be home to the tallest building in Africa.

The Leonardo will be a combination of shops, office spaces, apartments, a 3-floor penthouse, and hotel rooms, and was designed by a South African firm, Co-Arc International Architects.

Prior to the Leonardo, the tallest building in Africa was the Carlton Centre, also located in Johannesburg, which was built in 1973.

According to CNN, a female-led team of architects managed the construction of the building, with 9 out of 11 positions on the team being filled by women.

Malika Walele, one of the female architects who oversaw the site since November 2017, talked to CNN about the difficulties she faced on the project: “Specifically being female, being young and being of color, there are a lot of challenges you face being in that building environment. I think there’s this preconception of females not being able to be in that sort of environment.”

During her time on the project, Walele recalls coming in contact with about 2,000 workers who were mostly men and experiencing sexism.

“I really had to work hard to prove myself. It takes some personality. I really had to step up and speak out — make sure that I was being heard by men,” she tells CNN.

Interestingly, it is estimated by the South African Institute of Architects in the Eastern Cape that 21% of the registered architects in South Africa are women.

The director at Co-Arc International Architects, Patric McInerney says he has hopes of the Leonardo offering a “beacon of hope” for architecture on the African continent.

“Being the tallest [building] in Africa at this time is quite interesting. I think to a certain extent we’re hoping the success of the development itself will demonstrate that it’s possible to reach for the stars and achieve them,” he says to CNN.

The 768-foot building will offer a 360-degree view of Johannesburg, making it another tourist attraction in the city of gold.

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Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

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