Meet Africa’s tallest building, The Leonardo

There’s a new kid on the block in Sandton. The Leonardo, Africa’s tallest skyscraper, has opened its doors after four years of construction.

The R3-billion, 55-floor mixed-use property development offers luxury lifestyle living, with hotel facilities, restaurants, conferencing and meeting venues, a lifestyle and recreation zone and a Montessori pre-school.

The building has 260 apartments, including The Leonardo Suite – a three-storey penthouse suite at the top with a price tag of R250-million.

“There is no reason to leave. We purpose-built The Leonardo to ensure all guests, whether they are staying with us or just visiting, have everything they need at one address,” said Legacy Hotels & Resorts CEO Bart Dorrestein in a recent interview.

Places of interest near The Leonardo include the high-end Sandton City Mall and Nelson Mandela Square, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. OR Tambo International airport is 27km away.

Some of the once record-breaking buildings in Africa that The Leonardo towers over include:

The Carlton Centre, downtown Johannesburg

The building opened in 1972 and reigned as the tallest building in Africa for almost three decades. The Carlton Centre is 50 storeys high, with much of the floor area below ground. It opened with the five-star, 30-storey Carlton Hotel taking up most of the floor space. The hotel was popular among the rich and famous, hosting many famous guests over the years, including Whitney Houston, Mick Jagger, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand.

In the early 1990s, Nelson Mandela had a lengthy stay in the presidential suite, and the late former president hosted many significant events there, including a reception for singer Paul Simon after the cultural boycott was lifted. The wedding of Mandela’s daughter Zindzi took place there, as well as his own 75th birthday party.

This is also where he announced the African National Congress’s first election victory in May 1994.

The hotel closed down in 1998, but the centre remains a popular shopping destination and visitors can take a lift up to the top floor, known as the Roof of Africa, for spectacular views over Johannesburg.

Britam Tower, Nairobi

The Britam Tower is 32 storeys high and ranks as the tallest building in Kenya. It is home to financial institutions, diplomatic missions, private companies and multinational corporations.

NECOM House, Lagos

NECOM House is a 32-storey building, with a communications spire at the top of the tower serving as a lighthouse beacon for Lagos Harbour. At the time of its completion in 1979, it was the tallest building in West Africa.