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Burj Dubai ( "Dubai Tower") is a supertall skyscraper under construction in Dubaimarker, United Arab Emiratesmarker, and is the tallest man-made structure ever built, at . Construction began on 21 September 2004, and the tower is expected to be completed and ready for occupancy on 4 January 2010.

The building is part of the flagship development called "Downtown Burj Dubai" at the "First Interchange" along Sheikh Zayed Roadmarker, near Dubai's main business district. The tower's architect is Adrian Smith, who worked with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill until 2006. The Chicago-based architecture and engineering firm SOM is in charge of the project. The primary builders are Samsung Engineering & Construction and Besix along with Arabtec. Turner Construction Company was chosen as the construction manager.

The total budget for the Burj Dubai project is about US$4.1 billion, and for the entire new "Downtown Dubai", US$20 billion. Mohamed Ali Alabbar, the CEO of Emaar Properties, speaking at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat 8th World Congress, said that the price of office space at Burj Dubai had reached US$4,000 per sq ft (over US$43,000 per m2) and that the Armani Residences, also in Burj Dubai, were selling for US$3,500 per sq ft (over US$37,500 per m2).



  • 21 September 2004: Emaar contractors begin construction.
  • February 2007: Surpasses the Sears Towermarker as the building with the most floors.
  • 13 May 2007: Sets record for vertical concrete pumping on any building at , surpassing the to which concrete was pumped during the construction of Taipei 101marker.
  • 21 July 2007: Surpasses Taipei 101, whose height of made it the world’s tallest building.
  • 12 August 2007: Surpasses the Sears Tower antenna, which stands .
  • 12 September 2007: At , becomes the world's tallest freestanding structure, surpassing the CN Towermarker in Torontomarker.
  • 7 April 2008: At , surpasses the KVLY-TV Mastmarker to become the tallest man-made structure.
  • 17 June 2008: Emaar announces that Burj Dubai's height is over and that its final height will not be given until it is completed in September 2009.
  • 1 September 2008: Height tops , making it the tallest man-made structure ever built, surpassing the previous record-holder, the Warsaw Radio Mastmarker in Konstantynówmarker, Polandmarker.
  • 17 January 2009: Topped out at .
  • 1 October 2009: Emaar announces that the exterior of the building is completed.

Current records

  • Tallest structure: (previously KVLY-TV mast - )
  • Tallest freestanding structure: (previously CN Tower - )
  • Building with most floors: 160 (previously both 1 & 2 World Trade Centermarker - 110)
  • World's highest elevator installation
  • Worlds fastest elevators at speed of or (previously Taipei 101marker – 16.83 m/s)
  • Highest vertical concrete pumping (for a building): (previously Taipei 101marker - )
  • Highest vertical concrete pumping (for any construction): (previously Riva del Gardamarker Hydroelectric Power Plant - )
  • The first world's tallest structure in history to include residential space

Note: Additional records for tallest skyscraper are considered unofficial. On 20 July 2007, the Executive Director of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), Antony Wood, said "We will not classify it as a building until it is complete, clad and at least partially open for business to avoid things like the Ryungyongmarker project. Taipei 101 is thus officially the world's tallest until that happens."

History of height increases

Burj Dubai compared to some other well-known tall structures.
Though unconfirmed, Burj Dubai has been rumoured to have undergone several planned height increases since its inception. Originally proposed as a virtual clone of the Grollo Tower proposal for Melbournemarker, Australia's Docklands waterfront developmentmarker, the tower was redesigned with an original design by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill discussed below. Marshall Strabala, an SOM architect who worked on the project until 2006, recently said that Burj Dubai was designed to be tall. However, contradictory information abounds regarding the official height of the building, and it will only acquire the title of world's tallest building upon completion in 2009.

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 currently planned 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. However, the top of the tower has a steel frame structure, unlike the lower portion's reinforced concrete. The developer, Emaar, has stated this steel section may be extended to beat any other tower to the title of tallest.


Emaar Properties announced on 9 June 2008 that construction of Burj Dubai was delayed by upgraded finishes and will 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 has been announced.

Architecture and design

Supertall cross-section comparisons.
Photo in January 2008 shows the 3-lobed structure.
A Hymenocallis flower showing 6 spokes, as pattern for the 3-lobed design.
The tower is designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which also designed the Willis Tower in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker and 1 World Trade Centermarker in New York Citymarker, among numerous other famous high-rises. The building resembles the bundled tube form of the Willis Tower, but is not a 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 Dubai was designed based on the 73-floor Tower Palace Threemarker, an all-residential building in Seoulmarker, South Koreamarker. In its early planning, Burj Dubai was intended to be entirely residential.

Emaar Properties has also engaged GHD, an international multidisciplinary consulting firm, to assist with the design, review and assessment involved in the construction process.

The design of Burj Dubai is derived from patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture. 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 an upward spiralling pattern, decreasing the cross section of the tower as it reaches toward the sky. There are 26 terraces in Burj Dubai. 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 Gulfmarker. Viewed from above or from the base, the form also evokes the onion domes of Islamic architecture. During the design process, engineers rotated the building 120 degrees from its original layout to reduce stress from prevailing winds. At its tallest point, the tower sways a total of .

To wash the 162 floors of habitable space of Burj Dubai, a horizontal track has been installed on the exterior of Burj Dubai at three levels 40, 73 and 109. Each track holds a 1,500 tonne bucket machine which moves horizontally and then vertically using heavy cables. The first of the 18 buckets is being tested on the south side of the Burj Dubai at level 40. The top of the spire, however, is reserved for specialist window cleaners, who brave the heights and high winds dangling by ropes to clean the top panels.

More than 1,000 pieces of art will adorn the interiors of Burj Dubai, while the lobby of Burj Dubai will have the artwork of 196 bronze and brass alloy cymbals representing the 196 countries of the world. The visitors in the 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.

A total of 24,348 pieces of cladding have been installed, with the last piece, spanning six metres in length, yet to be installed.

The exterior cladding of Burj Dubai consists of 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, at its projected height the exterior temperature at the top of the building will be 6 °C (11 °F) cooler than at its base.

The interior will be decorated by Giorgio Armani. An Armani Hotel, the first of four by Armani, will occupy the lower 37 floors. Floors 45 through 108 will have 700 private apartments on 64 floors (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 78th floor of the tower. Corporate offices and suites will fill most of the remaining floors, except for a 123rd floor lobby and 124th floor (about ) indoor/outdoor observation deck. The spire, itself over tall, will hold communications equipment. . Burj Dubai is expected to hold up to 35,000 people at any one time. A total of 56 elevators will be installed, the fastest rising and descending at up to . Engineers had considered installing the world's first triple-deck elevators, but the final design calls for double-deck elevators.

The graphic design identity work for the Burj Dubai is the responsibility of Brash Brands, who are based in Dubai. Design of the global launch events, communications, and visitors centers for the Burj Dubai 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 the Burj Dubai, which toured Milan, London, Jeddah, Moscow and Delhi.

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 Californiamarker-based company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio Hotelmarker Lake in Las Vegasmarker. Illuminated by 6,600 lights and 50 colored projectors, it is long and is shooting water 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.


Burj Dubai aerial closeup in March 2008.
The tower is being constructed by a South Korean company, Samsung Engineering & Construction, which also built the Petronas Twin Towersmarker and the Taipei 101. Samsung Engineering & Construction is building the tower in a joint venture with Besix from Belgiummarker and Arabtec from UAE. Turner is the Project Manager on the main construction contract.

The primary structural system of Burj Dubai is reinforced concrete. Over of concrete, weighing more than were used to construct the concrete and steel foundation, which features 192 piles buried more than deep. When completed, Burj Dubai's construction will have used of concrete and of steel rebar, and construction will have taken 22 million man-hours.

As construction of the tower progressed, it became increasingly difficult to vertically pump the thousands of cubic metres of concrete that were required. The previous record for pumping concrete on any project was set during the extension of the Riva del Garda Hydroelectric Power Plant in Italy in 1994, when concrete was pumped to a height of . Burj Dubai exceeded this height on 19 August 2007, and as of 8 November 2007 concrete was pumped to a delivery height of .

In Burj Dubai, concrete was pumped to the 156th floor, while the remaining structure was built of lighter steel. Burj Dubai is highly compartmentalised, with refuge floors built every 30 floors, where people can shelter on their long walk down to safety in case of an emergency.

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.

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 Gulfmarker temperatures that can reach . To combat this problem, the concrete was not poured during the day. Instead, 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 Dubai 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.

Floor plans

The following is a breakdown of floors as noted by

Floors Use
160-206 Mechanical
156-159 Transmission
155 Mechanical
139-154 Office
136-138 Mechanical
125-135 Office
124 Observatory
111-123 Office
109-110 Mechanical
76-108 Residential
73-75 Mechanical
43-72 Residential
40-42 Mechanical
19-39 Hotel
17-18 Mechanical
5-16 Hotel
4 Hotel, Mechanical
3 Hotel, restaurant
2 Hotel, lobby
1 Hotel, lobby, restaurant
Concourse Restaurant, lobby
B1-B2 Parking, Mechanical

Labour controversy

Burj Dubai is being built primarily by immigrants from South Asia. Press reports indicated in 2006 that skilled carpenter at the site earned UK£4.34 a day, and labourers earned UK£2.84.

On 21 March 2006, about 2,500 workers upset over buses that were delayed for the end of their shifts rioted, damaging cars, offices, computers, and construction equipment. A Dubai Interior Ministry official said the rioters caused almost UK£500,000 in damage. Most of the workers involved in the riot returned the following day but refused to work.

As of 17 June 2008 there are 7,500 skilled workers employed in the construction of Burj Dubai.


Burj Dubai has been designed to be the centerpiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development that will include 30,000 homes, nine hotels such as the Burj Dubai Lake Hotel & Serviced Apartmentsmarker, of parkland, at least 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mallmarker, and the man-made Burj Dubai Lake.

The building has returned the title of Earth's tallest free-standing structure to the Middle East—a title not held by the region since 1311 when Lincoln Cathedralmarker in England surpassed the height of the Great Pyramid of Gizamarker, which had held the title for almost four millennia.

The decision to build Burj Dubai is reportedly based on the government's decision to diversify from an oil-based economy to one that is service- and tourism-oriented. According to officials, it is necessary for projects like Burj Dubai to be built in the city to garner more international recognition, and hence investment. "He wanted to put Dubai on the map with something really sensational," said Jacqui Josephson, a tourism and VIP delegations executive at Nakheel Properties.

Progression of the construction of Burj Dubai

1 February 2006
29 August 2006
21 March 2007
File:Burj Dubai 20071204.jpg|
4 December 2007
11 March 2008
File:Burj_Dubai_20081019.jpg|19 October 2008File:2008-10-26 burjdubai.jpg|
26 October 2008
File:Burj Dubai 20090104.jpg|
4 January 2009
20 March 2009
File:Burj Dubai 29 June 2009.jpg|
29 June 2009

See also


  1. Dubai skyscraper world's tallest. BBC News. 22 July 2007.
  2. Cityscape, 18 September 2005. Retrieved on 5 May 2006.
  6. Baldwin, Derek (25 August 2009). A tall order: Burj Dubai all set to come clean. Xpress.
  7. Burj Dubai will officially open for the UAE National Day. Dubai Chronicle. 29 July 2009
  9. The Burj Dubai: Glass Steel and Stone

External links

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