Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa stands tall as the world’s highest skyscraper, boasting numerous records and serving as a testament to architectural prowess. Recognized globally, it’s a symbol of Dubai’s rapid ascent in the world of architecture and design.
A Historical Overview
Officially inaugurated on January 4, 2010, the Burj Khalifa stands at an awe-inspiring height of 828 meters, encompassing 163 stories. Originally known as the “Burj Dubai” during its construction, the building was renamed in honour of the UAE’s President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on its opening day.
By 2007, even before its completion, the tower had set records. In May 2008, it claimed the title of the world’s tallest above-ground structure. Initially scheduled to open alongside the Dubai Metro on September 9, 2009, financial challenges delayed its grand unveiling to 2010. With an investment of $1.5 billion, the tower embodies the concept of a “city within a city”, complete with its own green spaces, boulevards, and parks.
Design and Architecture
Credit for the building’s design goes to the American architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. At the helm of the project was renowned architect Adrian Smith, known for designing China’s Jin Mao skyscraper – though it’s half the height of the Burj Khalifa. The exact height of the Burj Khalifa was kept under wraps to possibly adapt should another country aim for the “world’s tallest” title. Ultimately, the structure rose to 828 meters, with 180 meters dedicated to its spire.
Constructing a Behemoth
Taking six years to construct, the building progressed astonishingly, growing by 12 floors weekly. At its peak, 12,000 workers toiled day and night. 320,000 cubic meters of concrete and over 60,000 tons of steel reinforcement were used. Due to Dubai’s intense heat, a unique concrete mix was poured at night, with ice added to cool it. Asymmetrical design was chosen to minimize wind-induced sway. The building’s total area equals 17 standard football fields and is clad in heat-resistant tinted glass panels. Maintaining its sparkling façade is a never-ending task, taking up to three months for a complete cleaning.
Inside the Marvel
The Burj Khalifa houses many facilities, including a hotel, apartments, shopping centres, and offices, with three separate entrances. Fashion designer Giorgio Armani crafted the hotel interiors. Notably, the 100th floor belongs to Indian billionaire Bavaguthu Shetty, who owns three expansive apartments there. Observers can marvel at the city from viewing decks on the 124th and 148th floors, with the latter holding the title of the world’s highest observation point. The tower even boasts a signature fragrance, permeating throughout via floor grates.
Featuring 57 elevators and eight escalators, only the service elevator travels from the ground to the top without interruption. But fret not; other elevators zoom at 10 meters per second.
Surroundings and Innovations
Adjacent to the skyscraper lies an artificial lake spanning 12 hectares, graced by a musical fountain dancing to modern Arabic and global hits tunes. A unique feature of the Burj Khalifa is its condensation collection system. In Dubai’s arid climate, the building’s cooling process produces significant condensation. This is captured and repurposed for irrigating the tower’s greenery, conserving up to 40 million litres of water annually.
Challenges to its Crown
Though currently unmatched, the Burj Khalifa’s reign might soon be contested. Dubai’s Creek Harbor tower, expected to be 100 meters taller, nears completion after delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A 1,007-meter tall building was planned for Saudi Arabia, but financial constraints halted its progress in 2018.
Nevertheless, the Burj Khalifa stands proudly, symbolizing Dubai’s ambition and architectural mastery. But as the race to the sky continues, its supremacy may be challenged in the not-so-distant future.