Tallest Building in the World – The Burj-e-Khalifa, Dubai


Skyscrapers have become a symbol of power and luxury throughout the globe; akin to a man holding an Apple iPhone, or a woman dressed in Versace, it speaks volumes about the standards of the one in possession of the product. They are a mesmerising amalgam of economics, aesthetics and architecture. From New York to the United Arab Emirates, skyscrapers have become quite fashionable in the world of buildings. The tallest of these structures stands at an impressive height of 2722 feet (around 830 metres), in Dubai, alias Burj Khalifa.

The Burj Khalifa, formerly known as the Burj Dubai, was initiated in 2004 by EMAAR; however, external construction took a good five years to complete. It was launched in 2010. The launch was an ostentatious one, with a total of around 6,000 guests, 10,000 fireworks, 868 stroboscope lights, and live coverage by hundreds of media outlets. The total cost accumulated was an eyebrow-raising 1.5 billion US dollars, which is still less than the construction of shorter buildings such as those in China – this could have been because lower labour cost in Dubai, and favourable conditions such as the subsoil conditions.The architecture and engineering was outsourced to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill from Chicago, whilst construction was undertaken by Al Ghurair Investment Group.

With a total of 163 floors, it should come across as no surprise that Burj Khalifa has managed to bag world records such as ‘Building with most floors’ and ‘World’s highest elevator installation’ – the list is actually quite extensive, with the Burj having broken more than 15 such world records. That is quite an achievement! Only one floor is located underground, though.

The Gross Floor Area (total floor area inside the building, including the walls but excluding the roof) is more than 3 million square feet. The entire project required more than 100,000 tonnes of cement, 55,000 tonnes of steel rebar and 20 million man-hours; an average of 12,000 people worked on it every day.

Visually, the Burj is said to have been built to mirror the Hymenocallis flower; furthermore, the architectural style is called Neo-futurism, which incorporates technology into art. It is said that the style was inspired by Islamic architecture, and other historical and religious elements. The Y-shape of the tower was designed intentionally for residential and hotel usage.

The building is not just eye-candy, though. It has 58 elevators that work at a speed of 10 metres per second; it takes approximately one minute to reach the observation deck on the 124th floor. It has 2960 parking spaces, 300 hotels and around 900 apartments.

Armani Residences in the Burj sold for 3,500 US dollars per square foot, and office space pricing was $4,000 per square foot. WET Enterprises invested $217 million in a fountain – the Dubai Fountain – located outside the building; it is adorned by 6,600 lights and 50 coloured projectors. At 270 metres, it shoots water at a height of 150 metres in sync with Arabic or world music.

A 27 acre park surrounds the building, fashioned by the SWA Group. It was christened the Burj Khalifa Park, and mimics the core design concepts of the building itself. The ground has flowering trees, gardens, pathways, and at the centre of it all is the water room, with pools and fountains.

Back in the building, there is an observation deck on the 124th deck, which was given the name ‘At the Top’. This name is very fitting for the iconic destination that soars at an awe-inspiring 555 metres. There are lounges and other forms of entertainment present here for all those who are interested and who are not afraid to indulge a little. It broke the world record for highest observation deck until December 2011, when Canton Tower surpassed ‘At the Top’.

So why was the tower built? Rumour has it that the Dubai government decided to diversify from being entirely dependent on its oil reserves to attracting tourists and gaining international recognition as well. The building of the tower itself was named in honour of the president of the UAE, Khalifa bin Zaid al Nahyan. The site of the building was originally a military compound, dubbed the ‘Central Military Command’.

The building is home to the second-highest swimming pool as well; the pool is on the 76th floor, and is second to one in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Hong Kong – the pool there is on the 118th floor. What’s more, the Burj uses up 250,000 gallons of water on a daily basis. Electricity consumption is also bound to raise a few eyebrows – it is equal to 360,000 bulbs, each of 100 watts, burning simultaneously.

Due to its incredible height, the tower has a very strong support system; the concrete used weighs as much as 100,000 elephants and aerospace enthusiasts will be stunned to hear that total aluminium used weighs as much as five A380 aircraft. To create the building’s exterior, 26,000 glass panels were cut individually. These windows are cleaned by 36 cleaners who board 12 machines of 13 tonnes each to get the job done. 300 Chinese cladding experts were employed to design the cladding system the tower currently possesses to withstand Dubai’s notorious heat.

Because of the height, the sun appears many minutes later on the top floor – for Muslims residing there, fasting in the holy month of Ramadan is made difficult. The gorgeous view is unbeatable, though! The tip of the Khalifa can be seen from a distance of 95 kilometres; such is the stunning height of the construction.


Mission impossible.

Let’s not forget that the Burj featured in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, with Tom Cruise performing many stunts on the building itself. A similar tower was also shown in a Simpsons episode; its destruction was also filmed in Independence Day: Resurgence.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Burj Khalifa is a beautiful tribute to architecture and it will be a hard act to follow. EMAAR is now working on an even larger project – we are waiting with bated breath to be blown away yet again!

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