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Burj Khalifa: Unpacking The Tallest Building In The World

Burj Khalifa: Unpacking The Tallest Building In The World

For three weeks, Adrian Smith created the original blueprints that would become the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. In the early 2000s he was contacted by Emaar Properties, the real estate company that developed the skyscraper. “They wanted to ask us about our experience with supertalls,” Smith told AD. He was working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) at the time and designed buildings such as the Jin Mao Tower, a 1,380-foot tower in Shanghai; and Zifeng Tower (formerly known as Nanjing Greenland Financial Tower), a 1,480-foot-tall tower located in Jiangsu, China.

Smith and his colleagues, including SOM structural engineering partner Bill Baker, attended the meeting and traveled from Chicago for an informal meeting but informative in New York. “We talk a lot about designing tall buildings because they are very different, even from a 60-story building,” Smith says. Emaar representatives told the SOM team that they wanted to build the world's tallest skyscraper in Dubai and asked for advice on selecting an architect. “I said we should have a two- or three-week ideas competition,” Smith recalls. “And they called back the next week and said, 'This is what we're going to do.'”

Shortly afterward, Emaar contacted a handful of people. architecture laboratories. , including Smith's team at SOM, with the basic details of the project (they wanted an elevation between 1,640 and 1,968 feet) and gave each team a few weeks to put their ideas into practice. As Smith explains, the SOM team presented “a rough version” of what eventually became the Burj Khalifa. "The first projects were adapted to his needs," he explains. "They chose us and about a month later we started in earnest."


What is the design of the Burj Khalifa based on?

Burj Khalifa | 2010-08-16 | Architectural Record

Structurally, the Burj Khalifa is designed with a three-part Y-shaped floor geometry. The project was largely based on Samsung Tower Palace Three, a Seoul skyscraper with a similar structure that Smith had worked on previously. Due to zoning restrictions, Tower Palace Three currently has 73 floors when it was originally planned to have 93, with several snags as it grew. When the height was reduced, "I lowered them to the point where they could still walk, but only in two- or three-story increments," Smith says. “So it was almost like putting a roof on the building.”

Although the original vision of Tower Palace Three in Seoul was not realized, the Smiths still have the power. idea of ​​a very tall structure with different levels of the three. tripod points. “I had a scheme where each leg of the three tripods would come down at different points,” he says, “and the other two legs would go up, then one of them would go down until there was no more than one leg left. Similarly, Smith had also designed a version in which the feet moved around the building at different distances, so that from a distance the building appeared to form a spiral. During the three-week ideas competition, Smith presented both concepts to Emaar, who was impressed by the that the building in both versions was not only buildable, but also had a dynamic quality.

After winning the competition, the architect concentrated on refining the building to best suit the Middle East. Eastern heritage: “When I developed Massing, I thought about architectural elements that exist in the Middle East, not just Dubai, and that people know well,” he says. When we think in particular to Islamic architecture, think of the pointed arches and the onion dome; Although this form is often associated with Russian Orthodox churches, it has roots in Syria and Iran. “So I thought, 'I'm going to use this, and I want to use it in an abstract way, where it's not obvious,'” Smith says of the dome shape. Due to its various setbacks, when looking at the building from below, the shape of a dome appears, although this shape is not particularly visible when looking from the base. “I wanted it to be a little mysterious but predominant.”

Where is the Burj Khalifa?

Burj Khalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world

The Burj Khalifa is located in the center of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, near the Dubai Promenade Primavera. . Today the building is surrounded by other offices, shops and restaurants, including the Dubai Mall, which is home to many designer stores such as Hermés, Saint Laurant, Cartier and Balenciaga, as well as other major destinations such as Burj Al Arab and Palm Jumeirah in the area. Although the city is now known for its ostentatious lifestyle and wealth, at the start of the project the area was little more than a plot of land with a few buildings scattered here and there.

“Sheikh Mohammed was a brilliant leader and he owned all the land around Dubai and he wanted to make that city a world-class destination,” Smith says. The effort aimed, in part, at diversifying Dubai's economy away from being essentially oil-based. “He told his developer friends, 'If you have a really good idea, I'll give you the land as long as you develop it quickly,'” Smith says. “This is how Dubai has blossomed so quickly.”

This is also why the construction of the Burj Khalifa began so quickly. Less than a year after Emaar hired Smith and SOM to design the massive structure, construction began. “We built the building in about four or five months,” Smith recalls. At the time, the Burj Khalifa was designed as a 2,297-foot-tall tower, but because excavating and laying the foundation for a building of that size can take about a year, Smith took advantage of this time to develop a further design of the structure . “During this process I managed to develop a number of options to gradually increase the height of the building, up to around 950 metres,” he explains.

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How tall is the Burj Khalifa?

Learn in a Minute: Facts & Figures about the Burj Khalifa | by Be The  Ignite | Medium

From the base to the top of the building, which includes a tower and an antenna. The Burj Khalifa is 2,722 feet tall, or just over 800 meters. However, this was not always the case. Although he was thrilled to win the design competition, something was wrong in the back of Smith's mind. “As I grew it over the next three or four months, I was annoyed because it still wasn't big enough and wasn't filling in,” he recalls.

While construction crews dug the building's foundations, Smith and his team flew to Dubai to present developers with a series of models that showed different ways of create this building that might seem finished. . . “We modeled it as a tower where you could take the top off and put another on,” Smith says. The architect advocated a height of approximately 850 meters (approximately 2,790 feet), although the builders were aware of the price implications of this additional height. But pre-sales were good, interest in the building was high, and the development team made an immediate decision. Once Smith finished his presentation, they agreed on the option of raising the building another 500 feet to its current height of 2,722 feet. “We made the decision on the spot,” says Smith.

Is the Burj Khalifa the tallest building in the world?

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At 2,722 feet tall, the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. When construction was completed in 2010, the record was set for Taipei 101, a 500-meter-tall mixed-use building located in Taipei, China. For comparison, two Eiffel Towers could be stacked on top of each other and the Burj Khalifa would be even taller; The Empire State Building sits just above the middle of the Burj Khalifa. Without the antenna and tower, the building is 600 meters tall, the equivalent of almost six and a half football fields stacked on top of each other.

However this is just one of the many world records held by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The monumental skyscraper is also the tallest structure ever built (surpassing the 2,121-foot radio antenna in Warsaw), the tallest freestanding structure (surpassing the 1,815-foot CN Tower in Toronto), and the tallest building (surpassing 110 plans). Around the world).Shopping centres). . in his 163).

How much does the Burj Khalifa cost?

Burj Khalifa : All you should know about [2023 Updated]

The total construction cost of the Burj Khalifa has been estimated at $1.5 billion. Even though it costs a significant amount of money, the Burj Khalifa is not the most expensive building in the world; The title goes to the Rawabi Abraj Al-Bait Tower in Saudi Arabia, which cost 15 billion dollars. In fact, there are 11 buildings in the world that cost more to build than the Burj Khalifa, even though they're all shorter.

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Why is Burj Khalifa famous?

Dubai: Burj Khalifa announces return of its famous laser show in 2023 -  Entertainment

Although the height of Burj Khalifa is undoubtedly its biggest claim to fame. Of course, it's his impact, that breathtaking height that makes him so special. “Every time you build the tallest building in the world, it's different because you run into problems that you don't even know exist,” Smith says. Designing a building of this size doesn't just mean finding problems that didn't exist before, but also solving them. “Every time you build a tall building, you learn about 10% more than anyone else knew about tall buildings.”

By designing the Burj Khalifa, they won over Smith. and his team, for example, have gained incredible insights from wind tunnel tests used to predict a building's response to different winds. Terms. The taller the buildings, the greater the impact of the wind and “at the Burj Khalifa they carried out wind tunnel tests which showed that it would be better to move the orientation of one of the legs 10-15 degrees in one direction. in the wind,” Smith says.

For other architects and designers, building design serves as inspiration and direction for their projects. According to Ashley Davis, architect and strategic construction consultant at Real Estate Bees, the Burj Khalifa is a model for consumer safety and evacuation procedures in skyscrapers. “As architects, our primary concern is the health, safety and welfare of the public,” she says. “The Burj Khalifa uses a combination of security factors, some traditional and others that take into account the special circumstances of the enormous square meters.” Notable features of the world's tallest tower include clearly defined exit routes with waste collection areas, multiple fire and smoke protections. exit stairs and fire-resistant floors.

However, the structure not only redefines the safety and well-being of residents, but is also aesthetically stimulating. “The Burj Khalifa stands out among architectural clichés that can only be copied and pasted because its aesthetic fully integrates every detail, from materials to geometry, history, metaphor and symbolism,” said Ana María Torres, a resident of New York City Living. architect and founder of En Arquitectos, she tells AD. According to Torres, architecture has the ability to speak to people, whether passers-by know it or not, and the Burj Khalifa has made her a more environmentally conscious reader. “It shows subtlety, strength and intelligence,” she says. “This strengthens the connection between our sense of beauty and our understanding of the nature of a good life,” she explains.

What is in the Burj Khalifa?

Dubai's Burj Khalifa: A look inside the world's tallest building | CNN

Originally, the developers had planned to use the building exclusively as a residential building, but over time it became a purely residential mixed-use structure. “Most of these very tall buildings really need to be mixed-use, because the taller they are, the larger they generally need to be at the base,” Smith says. “So you're building maybe two million and three million square feet of space, and if it's just for one-time use, it takes time to fill it and the maintenance costs become excessive as you try to lease the building. 

At the Burj Khalifa, the building is essentially divided into three main areas of use: residential, corporate and hotel. The tower features 900 apartments, consisting of studio, one, two, three and four bedroom apartments, on floors 19 through 108. In addition to the prestige of living in the world's tallest building, residents also have access to various amenities such as indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, library, smoking lounge and a four-story spa with two fitness centers. and spa facilities. “There is a pool on the common floors with lots of entrances and exits,” Smith says. “It's under the outer wall, so you can swim under the wall and get out.”

Food and beverage options include Armani Hotel Dubai, the first developed from the Georgio Armani Hotel; At.Mosphere, an upscale restaurant on the 122nd floor; and two air lounges, At The Top Burj Khalifa SKY and Lounge Burj Khalifa, located on floors 124, 125 and 148 and 152, 153 and 154 respectively. The corporate suites are located on floors 112 to 154.

I visited an empty office in the Burj Khalifa that was available for rent a few years ago and it was a really strange office space. I've seen it before,” Nadia Michel, a journalist, podcaster and author, told AD. Although the building's structure had a somewhat unusual layout (a circular cave-like area with a column in the center, Michel explains), the view was unprecedented. “Seeing the Dubai Fountain from above after sunset is a magical experience. Imagine ending a long day at the office with a spectacular dancing fountain show. 

Other people who have stayed or visited the Burj Khalifa have had similar experiences. design, although they also think the views and amenities tend to make up for it. . “The hotel had long corridors and some rooms were strangely shaped if you were in a curved room,” Larina Chen-Mehta, senior associate at LWC Concepts, told AD. Chen-Mehta visited the Armani Hotel a few years ago and, although he noted that some rooms might have been oddly shaped, "everything was impeccable in terms of design and service."

However, although the different uses of the building may have some similarities, such as floor plans, Smith ensured that each also had its own identity. “One of the disadvantages of a Y-shaped building and floor plan is that when you enter the building, you're essentially walking between two legs,” Smith says. However, she decided to exploit this situation by creating several entrances and lobbies in the legs, one for each use of the building. “We designed each one differently to reflect the spirit of that feature,” Smith says, adding that it's one of his favorite features of the tower. Armani took creative direction on the hotel's entrance, while Smith and his team designed the other two.

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What does the top of the Burj Khalifa look like?

Burj Khalifa: Unpacking the World's Tallest Building | Architectural Digest

Maybe no one really understands what it feels like if you were on top of the Burj Khalifa, like Nicole Smith-Ludvick, a skydiver and stuntman who was on top of the Burj Khalifa in a commercial for the Emirates airline. “Standing at the top of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a place no other woman has ever been, was one of the most extraordinary and moving experiences she has ever had,” Smith-Ludvick told AD. To film the commercial, you climbed to the top of the building three times, for about five hours each time, usually arriving just before dawn. “At this time of day, much of the city is still asleep, so the weather is calm and peaceful,” she says. “I saw the sunrise over the Arabian desert from an aerial view; “I watched the fog roll in from the sea and dissipate as the temperature rose.” Besides the view, Smith-Ludvick says the most notable difference between the Burj and Earth is the noise pollution. “It was much quieter up there,” she said.

However, non-professionals who want to discover Dubai from the Burj Khalifa will have to settle for the observation platforms of the Burj Khalifa, which are currently the most accessible heights. for visitors. “Standing on top of the Burj makes you feel like you're on a plane, literally surrounded by clouds,” Sarah Churbuck, a financial services communications strategist in Boston, told AD. Churbuck visited the skyscraper with her father in 2011 and took what she called a "very quick" elevator to the 148th floor, one of the Burj Khalifa's two observation decks. “I went through a door that led to the observatory area that I didn't know was outside,” she explains. “When I realized I was outside, I looked down and realized I was on a wooden platform bolted together and I could see the sky through the cracks.” Churbuck, who doesn't like heights, quickly knelt down and went back inside. , "where it didn't take me long to get on the elevator," she says.

Of course, for those who don't care "I'm from New York, so I spend a lot of time in tall buildings, and that's wonderful," says Christine Deussen, president by Deussen Global Communications. “The view is fantastic and doesn't make you dizzy or uncomfortable at all,” she says, adding the recommendation to book tickets in advance to be there at sunset. According to Deussen, the building staff are friendly and helpful and you can stay as long as you like and there are plenty of photo opportunities.

Is free entry to the Burj Khalifa free?

Typically, entry is not free for visitors who wish to pass through the viewing platforms of the Burj Khalifa, although this depends on the circumstances. . There are many different admission packages available to guests, though a visit to the At The Top SKY observation deck typically costs between $108 and $150, depending on the date, time, and age of the visitor. A visit to the 154th floor lounge, the highest observation deck, would cost more than $230 per person.

What is taller than the Burj Khalifa?

Although there is currently nothing taller than the Burj Khalifa, it is unlikely that this is the case. forever – Because Smith has already designed a building that will surpass him. “When you're doing something for the first time and someone wants to build something bigger, they're usually looking for people who've done it before,” Smith says. Jeddah Tower, a 3,281-foot-tall tower designed by Smith, is believed to be the first building in the world to span an entire kilometer. Construction began in 2013 on the building, which will be located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, although construction was halted in 2018.

Smith also carried out research on the construction of structures. . A mile high, although testing hasn't started yet. “We had some ideas about mile-high structures,” he says, “but oxygen levels become a factor when you get to that level.” At this level, architects and engineers must integrate more oxygen into occupied units. because people come and go and don't have the ability to adapt to higher altitudes, like in Colorado. However, it's a challenge that Smith and others hope to solve. “After visiting the Burj Khalifa, I always thought there was an opportunity to do something bigger,” he says.


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