With a total height of 829.8 m (2,722 ft, just over half a mile) and a roof height (excluding antenna, but including a 244 m spire) of 828 m (2,717 ft), the Burj Khalifa has been the tallest structure and building in the world since its topping out in 2009, supplanting Taipei 101, the previous holder of that status.
Construction of the Burj Khalifa began in 2004, with the exterior completed five years later in 2009.
The building’s main structure is reinforced concrete, and some of the steel came from the former East German parliament, the Palace of the Republic in East Berlin.
The building was opened in 2010 as part of a new development called Downtown Dubai.
It is designed to be the centerpiece of large-scale, mixed-use development.
The decision to construct the building is based on the government’s decision to diversify from an oil-based economy and for Dubai to gain international recognition.
The building was originally named Burj Dubai but was renamed in honor of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Abu Dhabi and the UAE government lent Dubai money to pay its debts.
The building broke numerous height records, including its designation as the tallest building in the world.
Burj Khalifa was designed by Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, whose firm designed the Willis Tower and One World Trade Center.
Hyder Consulting was chosen to be the supervising engineer with NORR Group Consultants International Limited, chosen to supervise the project’s architecture.
As in the Great Mosque of Samarra, the design is influenced by Islamic architecture.
The Y-shaped tripartite floor geometry is designed to optimize residential and hotel space.
A buttressed central core and wings are used to support the height of the building.
Even though this design was derived from Tower Palace III, only the egress stairs within each of the wings provide vertical transportation within the Burj Khalifa’s central core.
The structure also features a cladding system that is designed to withstand Dubai’s hot summer temperatures.
It contains a total of 57 elevators and eight escalators.
At a certain point in the architectural and engineering process, the original Emaar developers experienced financial problems and required more money and economic funding.
Sheikh Khalifa, the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, granted monetary aid and funding, hence changing the name to “Burj Khalifa”.
The concept of profitability derived from building high-density developments and malls around the landmark has proven successful.
Its surrounding malls, hotels, and condominiums in Downtown Dubai have generated the most revenue from the project as a whole, while the Burj Khalifa itself made little or no profit.
Critical reception to Burj Khalifa has been generally positive, and the building has received many awards.
However, there were numerous complaints concerning migrant workers from South Asia who were the primary building labor force.
These centered on low wages and the practice of confiscating passports until duties were complete.
Frequent suicides committed by expatriate employees who worked at the structure were reported in 2011.
Burj Khalifa Development
Construction began in January 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 2 km2 (490-acre) Downtown Dubai development at the ‘First Interchange’ along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai’s central business district.
Adrian Smith served as chief architect, and Bill Baker served as a chief structural engineer at Chicago’s Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
The primary contractor was Samsung C&T of South Korea.
Burj Khalifa Conception
Burj Khalifa is the centerpiece of a sprawling, mixed-use development to include 30,000 homes, nine hotels (including The Address Downtown Dubai), 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of parkland, at least 19 residential skyscrapers, the Dubai Mall, and the 12-hectare (30-acre) artificial Burj Khalifa Lake.
The decision to build Burj Khalifa was reportedly based on the government’s decision to diversify from an oil-based economy to service and tourism-based.
According to officials, it was necessary for projects like Burj Khalifa to be built to garner more international recognition, and hence investment.
“He (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) wanted to put Dubai on the map with something sensational,” said Jacqui Josephson, a tourism and VIP delegations executive at Nakheel Properties.
The tower was known as Burj Dubai (“Dubai Tower”) until its official opening in January 2010.
During its construction, Dubai borrowed at least $80 billion from Abu Dhabi and the Federal Government of the UAE to pay off its debts to Abu Dhabi – UAE loans were in the billions of dollars.
In the 2000s, Dubai started diversifying its economy, but it suffered from an economic crisis in 2007–2010, leaving large-scale projects already in construction abandoned.
Burj Khalifa Records
The Burj Khalifa set several world records, including:
• Tallest existing structure: 829.8 m (2,722 ft) (previously KVLY-TV mast – 628.8 m or 2,063 ft)
• Tallest structure ever built: 829.8 m (2,722 ft) (previously Warsaw radio mast – 646.38 m or 2,121 ft)
• Tallest freestanding structure: 829.8 m (2,722 ft) (previously CN Tower – 553.3 m or 1,815 ft)
• Tallest skyscraper (to top of spire): 828 m (2,717 ft) (previously Taipei 101 – 509.2 m or 1,671 ft)
• Tallest skyscraper to top of antenna: 829.8 m (2,722 ft) (previously the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower – 527 m or 1,729 ft)
• Building with most floors: 163 (previously World Trade Center – 110)
• World’s highest elevator installation (situated inside a rod at the very top of the building)
• World’s longest travel distance elevators: 504 m (1,654 ft)
• Highest vertical concrete pumping (for a building): 606 m (1,988 ft)
• World’s tallest structure that includes residential space
• World’s highest installation of an aluminum and glass façade: 512 m (1,680 ft)
• World’s highest nightclub: 144th floor
• World’s highest restaurant (At.mosphere): 122nd floor at 442 m (1,450 ft) (previously 360, at the height of 350 m (1,148 ft) in CN Tower)
• World’s highest New Year display of fireworks.
• World’s most considerable light and sound show staged on a single building.
Burj Khalifa History of height increases
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.
Marshall Strabala, a Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill architect who worked on the project until 2006, said in late 2008 that Burj Khalifa was designed to be 808 m (2,651 ft) tall.
The architect who designed it, 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 its height.
It was stated that this change did not add any floors, which fit with Smith’s attempts to make the crown more slender.
The building opened on 4 January 2010.
Burj Khalifa Architecture and design
The tower was designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM), who also designed the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago and the One World Trade Center in New York City.
Burj Khalifa uses the bundled tube design of the Willis Tower, invented by Fazlur Rahman Khan.
Due to its tubular system, proportionally, only half the amount of steel was used in the construction, compared to the Empire State Building.
Khan’s contributions to the design of tall buildings have had a profound impact on architecture and engineering.
It would be difficult to find any worldwide practices in the design of tall buildings that his work has not directly or indirectly influenced.
The design is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision for The Illinois, a mile-high skyscraper designed for Chicago, as well as Chicago’s Lake Point Tower.
When Adrian Smith was conceiving the project at SOM, he looked out his office window toward Lake Point Tower’s curved three wing layout and thought, “There’s the prototype”.
According to Strabala, Burj Khalifa was designed based on the 73 floors Tower Palace Three, an all-residential building in Seoul.
In its early planning, Burj Khalifa was intended to be entirely residential.
After the original design by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, Emaar Properties chose Hyder Consulting to be the supervising engineer and NORR Group Consultants International Ltd to supervise the project’s architecture.
Hyder was selected for its structural and MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) engineering expertise.
Hyder Consulting’s role was to supervise construction, certify the architect’s design, and be the engineer and architect of record to the UAE authorities.
NORR’s role was to supervise all architectural components, including on-site supervision during construction, and design a 6-story 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, as an independent verification and testing authority for concrete and steelwork.
The design is derived from Islamic architecture.
As the tower rises from the flat desert base, there are 27 setbacks in a spiral pattern, decreasing the cross-section of the building as it grows and creating convenient outdoor terraces.
These setbacks are arranged and aligned in a way that minimizes vibration wind loading from eddy currents and vortices.
At the top, the central core emerges and is sculpted to form a finishing spire.
At its tallest point, the tower sways a total of 1.5 m (4.9 ft).
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 weighs 350 tonnes (390 short tons; 340 long tons) and has 200 m (660 ft).
The spire also houses communications equipment.
This 244-meter spire is widely considered vanity height since very little of its space is usable.
Without the spire, Burj Khalifa would be 585 meters tall.
This was reported in a Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat study, noting that the empty spire “could be a skyscraper on its own”.
Such a skyscraper, if located in Europe, would be the 11th tallest building on that continent.
In 2009 architects announced that more than 1,000 pieces of art would adorn the interiors of Burj Khalifa, while the residential lobby of Burj Khalifa would display the work of Jaume Plensa.
The cladding system consists of 142,000 m2 (1,528,000 sq ft) of more than 26,000 reflective glass panels and aluminum and textured stainless steel spandrel panels with vertical tubular fins.
The architectural glass provides solar and thermal performance and an anti-glare shield for the intense desert sun, extreme desert temperatures, and strong winds.
The glass covers more than 174,000 m2 (1,870,000 sq ft) in area.
The Burj’s typical curtain wall panels measure 4’6″ wide by 10’8″ high and weigh about 800 pounds each, with more comprehensive panels near the building’s edges and taller ones near the top.
The exterior temperature at the top of the building is thought to be six °C (11 °F) more relaxed than at its base.
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, it finally opened to the public on 27 April 2010.
The corporate suites and offices were also supposed to open from March onwards, yet the hotel and observation deck remained the only parts of the building open in April 2010.
The sky lobbies on the 43rd and 76th floors house swimming pools.
Floors 20 through 108 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 is located on the 76th floor of the tower.
Corporate offices and suites fill most of the remaining floors, except for the 122nd, 123rd, and 124th, where the At.mosphere restaurant, sky lobby, and an indoor and outdoor observation deck are located.
In January 2010, it was planned that Burj Khalifa would receive its first residents from February 2010.
The building has 57 elevators and eight escalators.
For double-deck elevators, the highest speed is ten m/s (33 ft/s) for rising and descending.
However, the world’s fastest single-deck elevator belongs to Taipei 101 at 16.83 m/s (55.2 ft/s).
Engineers had considered installing the world’s first triple-deck elevators, but the final design called for double-deck elevators.
The double-deck elevators are equipped with entertainment features such as LCDs to serve visitors during their travel to the observation deck.
The building has 2,909 stairs from the ground floor to the 160th floor.