Burj Khalifa on 23 December 2009
Former names Burj Dubai
Tallest in the world since 2010[I]
Preceded by Taipei 101
Location Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Coordinates 25°11′49.7″N 55°16′26.8″ECoordinates: 25°11′49.7″N 55°16′26.8″E
Construction started January 2004
Opening 4 January 2010
Cost USD $ 1.5 billion
Architectural 828 m (2,717 ft)
Tip 829.84 m (2,723 ft)
Roof 828 m (2,717 ft)
Top floor 621.3 m (2,038 ft)
Observatory 452.1 m (1,483 ft)
Floor count 163 habitable floors
plus 46 maintenance levels in the spire and 2 parking levels in the basement
Floor area 309,473 m2 (3,331,100 sq ft)
Design and construction
Owner Azhar Bin Sulaiman
Main contractor SOM, Besix and Arabtec, Samsung C&T
Supervision Consultant Engineer & Architect of Record Hyder Consulting
Construction Project Manager Turner Construction
Planning Bauer AG and Middle East Foundations
Lift contractor Otis
VT consultant Lerch Bates
Architect Adrian Smith at SOM
Developer Emaar Properties
Structural engineer Bill Baker at SOM
Burj Khalifa (Arabic: برج خليفة “Khalifa Tower”), known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is the tallest manmade structure in the world, at 829.84 m (2,723 ft). Construction began on 21 September 2004, with the exterior of the structure completed on 1 October 2009. The building officially opened on 4 January 2010, and is part of the new 2 km2 (490-acre) flagship development called Downtown Dubai at the ‘First Interchange’ along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai’s main business district. The tower’s architecture and engineering were performed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago, with Adrian Smith as chief architect, and Bill Baker as chief structural engineer. The primary contractor was Samsung C&T of South Korea.
The total cost for the project was about US$1.5 billion; and for the entire “Downtown Dubai” development, US$20 billion. In March 2009, Mohamed Ali Alabbar, chairman of the project’s developer, Emaar Properties, said office space pricing at Burj Khalifa reached US$4,000 per sq ft (over US$43,000 per m²) and the Armani Residences, also in Burj Khalifa, sold for US$3,500 per sq ft (over US$37,500 per m²).
The project’s completion coincided with the global financial crisis of 2007–2010, and with vast overbuilding in the country, led to high vacancies and foreclosures. With Dubai mired in debt from its huge ambitions, the government was forced to seek multibillion dollar bailouts from its oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi. Subsequently, in a surprise move at its opening ceremony, the tower was renamed Burj Khalifa, said to honour the UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his crucial support.
Due to the slumping demand in Dubai’s property market, the rents in the Burj Khalifa plummeted 40% some ten months after its opening. Out of 900 apartments in the tower, around 825 were still empty at that time. Conception
Burj Khalifa was designed to be the centerpiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development that would include 30,000 homes, nine hotels (including The Address Downtown Dubai), 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of parkland, at least 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 12-hectare (30-acre) man-made Burj Khalifa Lake.
The building has returned the location of Earth’s tallest freestanding structure to the Middle East where the Great Pyramid of Giza claimed this achievement for almost four millennia before being surpassed in 1311 by Lincoln Cathedral in England.
The decision to build Burj Khalifa is reportedly based on the government’s decision to diversify from an oil based economy to one that is service and tourism based. According to officials, it is necessary for projects like Burj Khalifa to be built in the city to garner more international recognition, and hence investment. “He (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) wanted to put Dubai on the map with something really sensational,” said Jacqui Josephson, a tourism and VIP delegations executive at Nakheel Properties. History of height increases
Burj Khalifa compared to some other well-known tall structures
There are unconfirmed reports of several planned height increases since its inception. Originally proposed as a virtual clone of the 560 m (1,837 ft) Grollo Tower proposal for Melbourne, Australia’s Docklands waterfront development, the tower was redesigned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM). Marshall Strabala, an SOM architect who worked on the project until 2006, in late 2008 said that Burj Khalifa was designed to be 808 m (2,651 ft) tall.
The design architect, Adrian Smith, felt that the uppermost section of the building did not culminate elegantly with the rest of the structure, so he sought and received approval to increase it to the current height. It has been explicitly stated that this change did not include any added floors, which is fitting with Smith’s attempts to make the crown more slender.
Emaar Properties announced on 9 June 2008 that construction of Burj Khalifa was delayed by upgraded finishes and would be completed only in September 2009. An Emaar spokesperson said “The luxury finishes that were decided on in 2004, when the tower was initially conceptualized, is now being replaced by upgraded finishes. The design of the apartments has also been enhanced to make them more aesthetically attractive and functionally superior.” A revised completion date of 2 December 2009 was then announced. However, Burj Khalifa was opened on 4 January 2010.
Architecture and design
A Hymenocallis flower showing six spokes, as pattern for the three-lobed design
The tower is designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which also designed the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago and the new One World Trade Center in New York City among numerous other famous high-rises. The building resembles the bundled tube form of the Willis Tower, but is not a bundle tube structure. Its design is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision for The Illinois, a mile high skyscraper designed for Chicago. According to Marshall Strabala, an SOM architect who worked on the building’s design team, Burj Khalifa was designed based on the 73 floor Tower Palace Three, an all residential building in Seoul. In its early planning, Burj Khalifa was intended to be entirely residential.
Subsequent to the original design by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Emaar Properties chose Hyder Consulting to be the supervising engineer with NORR Group Consultants International Limited chosen to supervise the architecture of the project. Hyder was selected for its expertise in structural and MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) engineering. Hyder Consulting’s role was to supervise construction, certify SOM’s design, and be the engineer and architect of record to the UAE authorities. NORR’s role was the supervision of all architectural components including on site supervision during construction and design of a 6-storey addition to the Office Annex Building for architectural documentation. NORR was also responsible for the architectural integration drawings for the Armani Hotel included in the Tower. Emaar Properties also engaged GHD, an international multidisciplinary consulting firm, to act as an independent verification and testing authority for concrete and steelwork.
The design of Burj Khalifa is derived from patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture. According to the structural engineer, Bill Baker of SOM, the building’s design incorporates cultural and historical elements particular to the region. The Y-shaped plan is ideal for residential and hotel usage, with the wings allowing maximum outward views and inward natural light. The design architect, Adrian Smith, has said the triple lobed footprint of the building was inspired by the flower Hymenocallis. The tower is composed of three elements arranged around a central core. As the tower rises from the flat desert base, setbacks occur at each element in a spiralling pattern, decreasing the cross section of the tower as it reaches toward the sky. There are 27 terraces in Burj Khalifa. At the top, the central core emerges and is sculpted to form a finishing spire. A Y-shaped floor plan maximizes views of the Persian Gulf. Viewed from above or from the base, the form also evokes the onion domes of Islamic architecture. At its tallest point, the tower sways a total of 1.5 m (4.9 ft).
To support the unprecedented height of the building, the engineers developed a new structural system called the buttressed core, which consists of a hexagonal core reinforced by three buttresses that form the ‘Y’ shape. This structural system enables the building to support itself laterally and keeps it from twisting.
The spire of Burj Khalifa is composed of more than 4,000 tonnes (4,400 short tons; 3,900 long tons) of structural steel. The central pinnacle pipe weighing 350 tonnes (390 short tons; 340 long tons) was constructed from inside the building and jacked to its full height of over 200 m (660 ft) using a strand jack system. The spire also houses communications equipment.
More than 1,000 pieces of art will adorn the interiors of Burj Khalifa, while the residential lobby of Burj Khalifa will display the work of Jaume Plensa, featuring 196 bronze and brass alloy cymbals representing the 196 countries of the world. The visitors in this lobby will be able to hear a distinct timbre as the cymbals, plated with 18-carat gold, are struck by dripping water, intended to mimic the sound of water falling on leaves.
The exterior cladding of Burj Khalifa consists of 142,000 m2 (1,528,000 sq ft) of reflective glazing, and aluminium and textured stainless steel spandrel panels with vertical tubular fins. The cladding system is designed to withstand Dubai’s extreme summer temperatures. Additionally, the exterior temperature at the top of the building is thought to be 6 °C (11 °F) cooler than at its base. Over 26,000 glass panels were used in the exterior cladding of Burj Khalifa. Over 300 cladding specialists from China were brought in for the cladding work on the tower.
A 304 room Armani Hotel, the first of four by Armani, occupies 15 of the lower 39 floors. The hotel was supposed to open on 18 March 2010 but after several delays the hotel finally opened the public on 27 April 2010. The corporate suites and offices were also supposed to open from March onwards but the hotel and observation deck remain the only parts of the building which are open.
The sky lobbies on the 43rd and 76th floors will house swimming pools. Floors through to 108 will have 900 private residential apartments (which, according to the developer, sold out within eight hours of being on the market). An outdoor zero-entry swimming pool will be located on the 76th floor of the tower. Corporate offices and suites fill most of the remaining floors, except for a 122nd, 123rd and 124th floor where the At.mosphere restaurant, sky lobby and an indoor and outdoor observation deck is located respectively. Burj Khalifa will receive its first residents from February 2010. They will be among the first of 25,000 people who will live there.
Burj Khalifa is expected to hold up to 35,000 people at any one time. A total of 57 elevators and 8 escalators are installed. The elevators have a capacity of 12 to 14 people per cabin, the fastest rising and descending at up to 18 m/s (59 ft/s). Engineers had considered installing the world’s first triple-deck elevators, but the final design calls for double-deck elevators. The double-deck elevators are equipped with entertainment features such as LCD displays to serve visitors during their travel to the observation deck. The building has 2,909 stairs from the ground floor to the 160th floor.
The graphic design identity work for Burj Khalifa is the responsibility of Brash Brands, who are based in Dubai. Design of the global launch events, communications, and visitors centers for Burj Khalifa have also been created by Brash Brands as well as the roadshow exhibition for the Armani Residences, which are part of the Armani Hotel within Burj Khalifa, which toured Milan, London, Jeddah, Moscow and Delhi.
Water supply system
The Burj Khalifa’s water system supplies an average of 946,000 l (250,000 USgal) of water per day through 100 km (62 mi) of pipes. An additional 213 km (132 mi) of piping serves the fire emergency system, and 34 km (21 mi) supplies chilled water for the air conditioning system.
The air conditioning system draws air from the upper floors where the air is cooler and cleaner than on the ground. At peak cooling times, the tower’s cooling is equivalent to that provided by 13,000 t (29,000,000 lb) of melting ice in one day. The condensate collection system, which uses the hot and humid outside air, combined with the cooling requirements of the building, results in a significant amount of condensation of moisture from the air. The condensed water is collected and drained into a holding tank located in the basement car park; this water is then pumped into the site irrigation system for use on the Burj Khalifa park.
To wash the 24,348 windows, totaling 120,000 m2 (1,290,000 sq ft) of glass, a horizontal track has been installed on the exterior of Burj Khalifa at levels 40, 73 and 109. Each track holds a 1,500 kg (3,300 lb) bucket machine which moves horizontally and then vertically using heavy cables. Above level 109, up to tier 27 traditional cradles from davits are used. The top of the spire, however, is reserved for specialist window cleaners, who brave the heights and high winds dangling by ropes to clean and inspect the top of the pinnacle. Under normal conditions, when all building maintenance units will be operational, it will take 36 workers three to four months to clean the entire exterior façade.
Unmanned machines will clean the top 27 additional tiers and the glass spire. The cleaning system was developed in Melbourne, Australia at a cost of A$8 million. The contract for building the state-of-the-art machines was won by Australian company Cox Gomyl.
The Dubai Fountain
Main article: The Dubai Fountain
Outside, and at a cost of Dh 800 million (US$217 million), a record-setting fountain system was designed by WET Design, the California-based company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas. Illuminated by 6,600 lights and 50 coloured projectors, it is 275 m (902 ft) long and shoots water 150 m (490 ft) into the air, accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and world music. On 26 October 2008, Emaar announced that based on results of a naming contest the fountain would be called the Dubai Fountain.
An outdoor observation deck, named At the Top, opened on 5 January 2010 on the 124th floor. It is the third highest observation deck in the world and the second highest outdoor observation deck in the world, at 452 m (1,483 ft). The observation deck also features the Behold Telescope, an augmented reality device developed by gsmprjct° of Montréal, which allows visitors to view the surrounding landscape in real-time, and to view previously saved images such as those taken at different times of day or under different weather conditions. To manage the daily rush of sightseers, visitors are able to purchase tickets in advance for a specific date and time and at a 75% discount over tickets purchased on the spot.
On 8 February 2010, the observation deck was closed to the public after power supply problems caused an elevator to become stuck between floors, trapping a group of tourists for 45 minutes. Despite rumours of the observation deck reopening for St. Valentine’s Day (14 February), it remained closed until 4 April 2010.
Burj Khalifa park
Burj Khalifa is surrounded by an 11 ha (27-acre) park designed by landscape architects SWA Group. The design of the park is also inspired by the core design concepts of Burj Khalifa which is based on the symmetries of the desert flower, Hymenocallis. The park has six water features, gardens, palm lined walkways, and flowering trees. At the centre of the park and the base of Burj Khalifa is the water room, which is a series of pools and water jet fountains. In addition the railing, benches and signs incorporate images of Burj Khalifa and the Hymenocallis flower.
The plants and the shrubbery will be watered by the buildings’s condensation collection system that uses water from the cooling system. The system will provide 68,000,000 L (15,000,000 imp gal) annually. WET designers, who also developed the Dubai Fountain, developed the park’s six water features. Construction
Aerial close up of Burj Khalifa under construction in March 2008
The tower was constructed by South Korean company, Samsung Engineering & Construction, which also did work on the Petronas Twin Towers and Taipei 101. Samsung Engineering & Construction built the tower in a joint venture with Besix from Belgium and Arabtec from UAE. Turner is the Project Manager on the main construction contract.
Under UAE law, the Contractor and the Engineer of Record, Hyder Consulting, is jointly and severally liable for the performance of Burj Khalifa.
The primary structure is reinforced concrete. Over 45,000 m3 (58,900 cu yd) of concrete, weighing more than 110,000 tonnes (120,000 short tons; 110,000 long tons) were used to construct the concrete and steel foundation, which features 192 piles; each pile is 1.5 metre diameter x 43 m long, buried more than 50 m (164 ft) deep. Burj Khalifa’s construction used 330,000 m3 (431,600 cu yd) of concrete and 55,000 tonnes (61,000 short tons; 54,000 long tons) of steel rebar, and construction took 22 million man-hours. A high density, low permeability concrete was used in the foundations of Burj Khalifa. A cathodic protection system under the mat is used to minimize any detrimental effects from corrosive chemicals in local ground water. In May 2008 concrete was pumped to a then world record delivery height of 606 m (1,988 ft), the 156th floor. Three tower cranes were used during construction of the uppermost levels, each capable of lifting a 25-tonne load. The remaining structure above is constructed of lighter steel.
Burj Khalifa is highly compartmentalised. Pressurized, air-conditioned refuge floors are located approximately every 35 floors where people can shelter on their long walk down to safety in case of an emergency or fire.
Special mixes of concrete are made to withstand the extreme pressures of the massive building weight; as is typical with reinforced concrete construction, each batch of concrete used was tested to ensure it could withstand certain pressures. CTLGroup, working for SOM, conducted the creep and shrinkage testing critical for the structural analysis of the building.
The consistency of the concrete used in the project was essential. It was difficult to create a concrete that could withstand both the thousands of tonnes bearing down on it and Persian Gulf temperatures that can reach 50 °C (122 °F). To combat this problem, the concrete was not poured during the day. Instead, during the summer months ice was added to the mixture and it was poured at night when the air is cooler and the humidity is higher. A cooler concrete mixture cures evenly throughout and is therefore less likely to set too quickly and crack. Any significant cracks could have put the entire project in jeopardy.
The unique design and engineering challenges of building Burj Khalifa have been featured in a number of television documentaries, including the Big, Bigger, Biggest series on the National Geographic and Five channels, and the Mega Builders series on the Discovery Channel. Official launch ceremony
The opening ceremony of Burj Khalifa
The opening of Burj Khalifa was held on 4 January 2010. The ceremony featured a display of 10,000 fireworks, light beams projected on and around the tower, and further sound, light and water effects. The celebratory lighting was designed by UK lighting designers Speirs and Major. Using the 868 powerful stroboscope lights that are integrated into the façade and spire of the tower, different lighting sequences were choreographed, together with more than 50 different combinations of the other effects.
The event began with a short film which depicted the story of Dubai and the evolution of Burj Khalifa. The displays of sound, light, water and fireworks followed. The portion of the show consisting of the various pyrotechnic, lighting, water and sound effects was divided into three. The first part was primarily a light and sound show, which took as its theme the link between desert flowers and the new tower, and was co-ordinated with the Dubai Fountain and pyrotechnics. The second portion, called ‘Heart Beat’, represented the construction of the tower in a dynamic light show with the help of 300 projectors which generated a shadow-like image of the tower. In the third act, sky tracers and space cannons enveloped the tower in a halo of white light, which expanded as the lighting rig on the spire activated.
The ceremony was relayed live on a giant screen on Burj Park Island, as well as several television screens placed across the Downtown Dubai development. Hundreds of media outlets from around the world reported liveAwards
In June 2010, Burj Khalifa was the recipient of the 2010 Best Tall Building Middle East & Africa award by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. On 28 September 2010 Burj Khalifa won the award for best project of year at the Middle East Architect Awards 2010.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat bestowed a new award for Burj Khalifa at its annual “Best Tall Buildings Awards Ceremony” on 25 October 2010 when Burj Khalifa honored as first recipient of CTBUH’s new Tall Building “Global Icon” Award. According to CTBUH the new “Global Icon” award recognizes those very special supertall skyscrapers that make a profound impact, not only on the local or regional context, but on the genre of tall buildings globally. Which is innovative in planning, design and execution, the building must have influenced and reshaped the field of tall building architecture, engineering, and urban planning. It is intended that the award will only be conferred on an occasional basis, when merited by an exceptional project perhaps every ten or fifteen years.
CTBUH Awards Chair Gordon Gill, of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture said:
“There was discussion amongst members of the jury that the existing ‘Best Tall Building of the Year’ award was not really appropriate for the Burj khalifa. We are talking about a building here that has changed the landscape of what is possible in architecture a building that became internationally recognized as an icon long before it was even completed. ‘Building of the Century’ was thought a more appropriate title for it.”
The building has been used by several experienced BASE jumpers for both authorized and unauthorized BASE jumping:
In May 2008, Hervé Le Gallou and a British man (name unknown) dressed as engineers, illegally infiltrated Burj Khalifa (around 650 m at the time), and jumped off a balcony situated a couple of floors below the 160th floor.
On 8 January 2010, with permission of the authorities, Nasr Al Niyadi and Omar Al Hegelan, from the Emirates Aviation Society, broke the world record for the highest BASE jump from a building after they leapt from a crane suspended platform attached to the 160th floor at 672 m (2,205 ft). The two men descended the vertical drop at a speed of up to 220 km/h (140 mph), with enough time to open their parachutes 10 seconds into the 90 second jump.
On 28 March 2011, Alain Robert scaled the outside of Burj Khalifa. The climb to the top of the spire took six hours. To comply with UAE safety laws Robert, who usually climbs in free solo style, took the unusual step of using a rope and harness for the climb.
Within 18 months of the building’s official opening, a man described as “an Asian in his mid-30s” who worked at one of the companies in the tower committed suicide on 10 May 2011 by jumping from the 147th floor. He fell 39 floors, landing on a deck on the 108th floor. Dubai police confirmed the act as a suicide, reporting that “We also came to know that the man decided to commit suicide as his company refused to grant leave.”
During the summer of 2009, while Burj Khalifa was still under construction, contestants from The Amazing Race 15 visited the 120th floor to collect a clue.
A substantial part of the plot of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the fourth of the Mission: Impossible film series, takes place in and around the Burj Khalifa and involves Tom Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt having to scale a large section of the exterior using high-tech adhesive gloves. Filming included stuntwork on the building’s exterior with some scenes shot in the IMAX format.
New Year’s Eve fireworks display
On 31 December 2010, fireworks accompanied by lasers and lights were displayed from the Burj Khalifa, making it the highest New Year fireworks display in the world.
The theme of the 2011 New Year fireworks was the “New Year Gala”, a tribute to the spirit of Dubai, which is home to over 200 nationalities. The display also marked the first anniversary of Burj Khalifa. from the scene. In addition to the media presence, 6,000 guests were expected.
Compiled and Presented by
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili (Retd. Chief Engineer) presently based at UAE.