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Burj Khalifa (Formerly Burj Dubai)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
AEWorldMap Entry

Completed: January, 2010
Architect: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (Adrian Smith)
Engineer: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (Bill Baker)
Project Manager: Turner International
Main Contractor: Samsung Corporation (South Korea)
Developer: Emaar Properties

The Burj Khalifa (Khalifa Tower in Arabic) is currently the tallest building in the world and measures 2,717 feet from its base to the tip of its over 700 foot tall spire. It rises 1000 feet higher than the world’s now second tallest building, Taipei 101. Skidmore, Owens and Merrill was responsible for the architecture, most of the engineering, and the interior design of this building. (Source 1)

The 160-floor tower lies within a master planned 500 acre community; all of which didn’t exist 6 years ago. (Source 1)

Burj Khalifa houses hotel space on the lowest floors, residential space on the mid level floors, and office space on the highest inhabitable floors. The building’s triaxial geometry and y shaped plan make it ideal for residential/hotel use, because they give more surface area per unit (i.e. more windows), rather than larger interior spaces (which would be more ideal for office use). (Source 1)

It’s obvious that the office floors (below — typically around only 5,000 square feet of floor space each) were more of an afterthought, as the entire building was designed for residential use. (Source 2)

A hexagonal core surrounds the elevators, and since it would not have been big enough to span the necessary height on its own, it is buttressed by the three wings of the building. One wing at each tier “sets back” in a spiraling pattern. (Source 2)

Wind was of great concern to the designers of the Burj Khalifa, as it’s speed increases with height. The main influence in the structural design process was, therefore, wind force. In depth wind tunnel testing on models of the building actually led to it’s rotation by 120 degrees to allow for the highest wind loads to be located the noses of the building. Just as well, the building houses some of the fastest elevators in the world (57 to be exact), although none travel farther than around 1,600 feet. In case of fire, refuge areas on certain floors can safely house the building’s habitants to prevent any unnecessary walking down potentially hundreds of flights of stairs. (Source 2)

The interior spaces (above) were designed with regard to an organic subtlety and are meant to directly contrast much of the grandiose nature of the building’s exterior and the city at large.

(Taken from the observation level at the Burj Khalifa)

The developer, Emaar Properties, along with the Architect and Engineer (SOM) were more focused on the scale of this building, rather than it’s sustainability (this caused great criticism upon opening in 2010). In their defense, the concept of sustainability wasn’t nearly as commonplace in building design (or in any industry, really) during the first half of the decade as it is today. (Source 1) Overall, though, Burj Khalifa serves as an outstanding symbol of the advancement of building technology in the world, and furthers Dubai and the UAE’s position as an “international player on par with other major cities.” (Source 2)

Case Study by: Blake McGregor
ARE 320K, Fall 2010



Source 1

Renzi, J. “Product Focus: Burj Khalifa and Citycenter.” Architectural Record. 198.8 (2010): 47-49. Print.

Source 2

Minutillo, Josephine. “Architectural Technology the Burj Khalifa’s Designers Tackle Extreme Height and Climate to Create an Icon.” Architectural Record. (2010): 89. Print.

Source 3

Shapiro, G.F. “Detail: Burj Khalifa Curtain Wall.” Architect. 99.3 (2010): 23-24. Print.

Written by Blake McGregor

September 13, 2012 at 1:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized