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Raising The Burj – How Dubai Built a World-Class Architectural Phenomenon

There are only a few iconic attractions, existent in the world, that are synonymous with the country they are in – The Eiffel Tower in France, The Taj Mahal in India, and The Pyramids in Egypt, just to name a few. Burj Khalifa is one such resplendent monument that has enhanced the status quo of the United Arab Emirates.

It has, in fact, remarkably embossed Dubai on the world map, listing this glamorous city among the top 20 travel destinations of all times. Downtown Dubai, the prime location, and home to Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest marvel, is the most desired feature of all Dubai holiday packages.

Has there been any other structure in recent history, that is comparable in scale, to the Burj Khalifa? To an extent certainly the Burj Al Arab – the luxury hotel, based in Dubai, and considered an architectural marvel. But if Burj Al Arab is an architectural marvel, then, the rise of the Burj Khalifa marks one of the greatest feats of engineering, undertaken by man. So let’s find out, how this awe-inspiring wonder of the world, came into being…

A SYMBOL OF PROSPERITY

Burj Khalifa is much more than merely the world’s tallest tower. It is the nation’s beacon of progress, and an emblem of the dynamically evolving, prosperity of the Middle East. The decision to build a legendary monument of such magnitude originated from Dubai’s visionary leader, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in order to surpass the ‘seemingly impossible’ and set an all new world-class benchmark.

CRAFTING THE BLUEPRINT

The unique design of Burj Khalifa is what truly sets it apart. An exclusive design competition was hosted for some of the world’s most esteemed designers, prior to design selection. The honor of designing the world’s tallest tower was awarded to the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), along with Master Developer Emaar Properties PJSC, one of the largest real estate companies in the world, to implement designs laid out for the masterpiece.

The architecture is based on an abstraction of the Hymenocallis flower, composed of three elements encompassing a central core, set ingeniously to balance the laws of physics. A series of tests were performed to verify and establish the resilience of the tower – from wind tunnel testing, and temperature immunity tests, to exterior pressure tests, in order to ensure earthquake proofing.

Creatively integrating culture, the basal and aerial views highlight the feature evocative of the onion domes prevalent in Islamic architecture.

The floor plan showcases a variety of magnificently woven offerings, rendering it a highly sought after, mixed development project – from luxury hotel brands, to ultra-luxury residences, state-of-the-art recreational facilities, an exclusive fine dining venue, and the tower’s public observatory, it’s an all in one hotspot.

The Burj Khalifa and its interiors were inspired by local culture, adorned by over 1,000 pieces of art from prominent Middle Eastern and international artists, while reflecting the building’s status as a global icon.

AN ICON IN THE MAKING

The success of this project was not based on oil reserves, but on reserves of human creativity, talent, and initiative.

Foundation work began in January 2004, and within just 1,325 days, Burj Khalifa rose to become the world’s tallest free-standing structure.

The vast project involved more than 12,000 professional and skilled workers, and took around 22 million man hours to build. In totality, 330,000 cubic meters of concrete, 39,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement, 103,000 square meters of glass, and 15,000 square meters of embossed stainless steel were used in its construction. The entire weight of aluminum used on Burj Khalifa is believed to be equivalent to that of five A380 aircraft, and the total length of stainless steel bull nose fins is 293 times the height of Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The end result is a truly stunning structure, in the heart of Downtown Dubai.

Standing at an impressive 2,716 feet (828m) with 200 plus stories, of which 160 are habitable, this is an unfathomable work of wonder. Located at level 148 is the world’s highest observation deck and outdoor terrace, followed by the world’s highest swimming pool on level 76, and At.Mosphere, the world’s highest fine dining restaurant on level 122.

Furthermore, it is has secured world records for having the highest number of stories, highest occupied floor, highest outdoor observation deck, elevator with longest travel distance, and the Tallest service elevator.

The tower has also accomplished a world record for the highest installation of an aluminum and glass façade, at a resounding height of 512 meters.

THE SHINIEST WINDOWS

Maintaining a structure of such stature is no menial task. Did you know the tower’s water system requires an average of 946,000 liters of water per day, and at peak times requires cooling equivalent to that of 10,000 tonnes of melting ice. There are also 18 specialized machines and 36 trained workers designated to cleaning the building’s 24,000 windows. In all, this takes a total of around 4 full months to clean. Interestingly, Dubai’s hot and humid weather when combined with the building’s cooling process, creates condensed water, which when collected, equals to the capacity of 200 Olympic –sized swimming pools, per year – ideal for utilization in sustainable practices. In terms of electrical consumption, the tower’s peak demand is 36mW, equivalent to about 360,000 bulbs of 100 watts operating simultaneously – that’s the secret behind the world’s exclusively lit, tallest free fall structure.

CONCLUSION

And that’s what goes behind the making of a world-class architectural phenomenon. Just like in the case with every phenomenon, Burj Khalifa began with an ingrained vision, and an unwavering enthusiasm to create a symbol that is truly spectacular, and that needs to be witnessed to grasp its sheer brilliance. It is also reflective of Dubai’s growing role in a changing world, and how much this city has transformed from a Middle Eastern metropolis, to a truly global sensation.

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