Burj Dubai on 16 September 2009
Groundbreaking 21 September 2004
Estimated completion 2009
Opening 2 December 2009
Antenna/Spire 818 m (2,684 ft)
Floor count 160 habitable floors
Floor area 334,000 m2 (3,595,100 sq ft)
Architect Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
Structural Engineer Bill Baker at SOM
Middle East Foundations
Burj Dubai (Arabic: " ب رج دب يDubai Tower"), a supertall skyscraper under construction
in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is the tallest man-made structure ever built, at 818 m
(2,684 ft). Construction began on 21 September 2004, and the tower is expected to be
completed and ready for occupancy by the end of 2009.
The building is part of the 2 km2 (0.8 sq mi) flagship development called "Downtown
Burj Dubai" at the "First Interchange" along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai's main
business district. The tower's architect is Adrian Smith, who worked with Skidmore,
Owings and Merrill (SOM) 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).
o 1.1 Timeline
o 1.2 Current records
o 1.3 History of height increases
o 1.4 Delay
2 Architecture and design
o 2.1 Dubai Fountain
4 Floor plans
5 Labour controversy
7 Progression of the construction of Burj Dubai
8 See also
21 September 2004: Emaar contractors begin construction.
February 2007: Surpasses the Sears Tower (since renamed to the Willis Tower) as
the building with the most floors.
13 May 2007: Sets record for vertical concrete pumping on any building at 452 m
(1,483 ft), surpassing the 449.2 m (1,474 ft) to which concrete was pumped
during the construction of Taipei 101.
21 July 2007: Surpasses Taipei 101, whose height of 509.2 m (1,671 ft) made it
the world’s tallest building.
12 August 2007: Surpasses the Sears Tower (Willis Tower) antenna, which stands
527.3 m (1,730 ft).
3 September 2007: Becomes the second-tallest freestanding structure, surpassing
the 540 m (1,772 ft) Ostankino Tower in Moscow.
12 September 2007: At 555.3 m (1,822 ft), becomes the world's tallest
freestanding structure, surpassing the CN Tower in Toronto.
7 April 2008: At 629 m (2,064 ft), surpasses the KVLY-TV Mast to become the
tallest man-made structure.
17 June 2008: Emaar announces that Burj Dubai's height is over 636 m (2,087 ft)
and that its final height will not be given until it is completed in September
1 September 2008: Height tops 688 m (2,257 ft), making it the tallest man-made
structure ever built, surpassing the previous record-holder, the Warsaw Radio
Mast in Konstantynów, Poland.
17 January 2009: Topped out at 818 m (2,684 ft).
1 October 2009: Emaar
announces that the exterior of the
building is completed.
Tallest structure: 818 m
(2,684 ft) (previously KVLY-TV
mast - 628.8 m (2,063 ft))
Tallest freestanding structure:
818 m (2,684 ft) (previously CN Tower - 553.3 m (1,815 ft))
Building with most floors: 160 (previously World Trade Center - 110)
World's highest elevator installation
Worlds fastest elevators at speed of 64 km/h or 18 m/s (59 ft/s) (previously
Taipei 101 – 16.83 m/s)
Highest vertical concrete pumping (for a building): 601 m (1,972 ft) (previously
Taipei 101 - 449.2 m (1,474 ft))
Highest vertical concrete pumping (for any construction): 601 m (1,972 ft)
(previously Riva del Garda Hydroelectric Power Plant - 532 m (1,745 ft))
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 head 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 Ryungyong [sic] 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.
A visual comparison of Burj Dubai's (far
right) height with that of surrounding
buildings at dusk.
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 560 m (1,837 ft) Grollo Tower proposal for
Melbourne, Australia's Docklands waterfront development, 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 808 m (2,650 ft) 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
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 Chicago and 1 World
Trade Center in New York City, 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, Illinois.
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 Three", an all-
residential building in Seoul, South Korea. 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
The design of Burj Dubai is derived from patterning systems[clarification needed] embodied in
Islamic architecture, with the triple-lobed footprint of the building based on an abstracted
version of 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 Gulf. 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 1.2 m (3.9 ft).
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 will consist of 142,000 m2 (1,528,000 sq ft) 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 440 m (1,444 ft)) indoor/outdoor
observation deck. The spire, itself over 200 m (700 ft) 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
10 m/s (33 ft/s). 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
Main article: 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 California-based company responsible for the
fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas. Illuminated by 6,600 lights and 50
colored projectors, it is 275 m (900 ft) long and is shooting water 150 m (490 ft) 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 Towers and the Taipei 101. Samsung
Engineering & Construction is building the tower in a joint venture with Besix from
Belgium and Arabtec from UAE. Turner is the Project Manager on the main construction
The primary structural system of Burj Dubai is reinforced concrete. Over 45,000 m3
(58,900 cu yd) of concrete, weighing more than 110,000 tonnes (120,000 ST;
110,000 LT) were used to construct the concrete and steel foundation, which features 192
piles buried more than 50 m (164 ft) deep. When completed, Burj Dubai's construction
will have used 330,000 m3 (431,600 cu yd) of concrete and 39,000 tonnes (43,000 ST;
38,000 LT) 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
532 m (1,745 ft). Burj Dubai exceeded this height on 19 August 2007, and as of 8
November 2007 concrete was pumped to a delivery height of 601 m (1,972 ft).
In Burj Dubai, concrete was pumped to 156th floor, while the remaining structure was
built of a lighter steel structure. Burj Dubai is very heavily 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
weight of the building; as is typical with reinforced concrete construction, each batch of
concrete was tested and checked to see whether it could withstand certain pressures.
The consistency of the concrete used in the project is essential. It was difficult to create a
concrete that could withstand both the thousands of tonnes bearing down on it and
Persian Gulf temperatures that can reach 50 °C (122 °F). To combat this problem, the
concrete was not poured during the day. Instead, ice is added to the mixture and it was
poured at night when it is cooler and the humidity is higher. A cooler concrete mixture
cures evenly throughout and therefore is 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 TV documentaries, including the Big, Bigger, Biggest series on the
National Geographic and Five channels, and the Mega Builders series on the Discovery
The following is a breakdown of floors as noted by Glasssteelandstone.com 
B1-B2 Parking, Mechanical
Concourse Restaurant, lobby
1 Hotel, lobby, restaurant
2 Hotel, lobby
3 Hotel, restaurant
4 Hotel, Mechanical
Further information: Human rights in the United Arab Emirates
Burj Dubai is being built primarily by poor immigrants from South Asia. Press reports
indicated in 2006 that skilled carpenters at the site earned UK£4.34 a day, and labourers
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
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 Apartments, 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of parkland, at least 19 residential
towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 12-hectare (30-acre) 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 Cathedral in England
surpassed the height of the Great Pyramid of Giza, which had held the title for almost
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 [Sheikh Mohammed
bin Rashid Al Maktoum] wanted to put Dubai on the map with something really
sensational," said Jacqui Josephson, a tourism and VIP delegations executive at Nakheel
Progression of the construction of Burj Dubai
21 March 2007
1 February 2006 29 August 2006 4 December 2007
11 March 2008
4 January 2009 20 March 2009
26 October 2008
Downtown Burj Dubai
List of development projects in Dubai
Skyscraper design and construction
List of buildings with 100 floors or more
List of tallest buildings and structures in the world
List of tallest buildings in the world
List of tallest freestanding structures in the world
List of tallest structures in the world
List of tallest buildings in Dubai
List of tallest towers in Southwest Asia
List of architects of supertall buildings
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Burj Dubai Skyscraper.com
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, architects
Emporis page on Burj Dubai
"The Burj Dubai Tower Wind Engineering"PDF (597 KiB) (Irwin, Baker, June
2006) STRUCTURE magazine
"The Burj Dubai Tower - Wind Channel Testing of Cladding and Pedestrian
Level"PDF (620 KiB) (Erwin, etal, November 2006) STRUCTURE magazine
Otis Worldwide, Signature Projects, information on the project's elevators at the
Otis Elevator Company
Wind and Other Studies performed by RWDI
CrazyEngineers Small Talk with Mr. William Baker[dead link]