Burj Dubai is a skyscraper under construction in the Business Bay district of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is the tallest man-made structure ever built, despite being incomplete. Construction began on September 21, 2004 and is expected to be completed and ready for occupation in September 2009.
The architecture and engineering firm SOM is in charge of the project. It also designed the Sears Tower in Chicago and the Freedom Tower in New York City, among numerous other famous high-rises. The building resembles the bundled tube form of the Sears Tower, but is not a tube structure. The design of Burj Dubai is reminiscent of the Frank Lloyd Wright vision for The Illinois, a mile high skyscraper designed for Chicago, Illinois. Burj Dubai is expected to rise to 150% of the height of the Sears Tower. Emaar has also engaged GHD, an international multidisciplinary consulting firm, to assist with the design, review and assessment involved in the construction process.
The design of Burj Dubai is derived from patterning systems 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. 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. The tower, at its tallest point, sways a total of 1.2 m (3.9 ft).
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.
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 going on sale). 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.
It will also feature the world's fastest elevator, rising and descending at 18 m/s (59 ft/s). The world's current fastest elevator (in the Taipei 101) travels at 16.83 m/s (55.2 ft/s). Engineers had considered installing the world's first triple-decker elevators, but the final design calls for double-deck elevators. A total of 56 elevators will be installed that can each carry 42 people at a time.
Outside, and at a cost of Dh 800 million (US $ 217 m), a record setting fountain system is to be 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 will be 275 m (900 ft) long and will shoot water 150 m (490 ft) into the air, accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and world music.
The total budget for the Burj Dubai project is about US$4.1 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 $4,000 per sq ft (over $43,000 per sq m) and that the Armani Residences, also in Burj Dubai, were selling for $3,500 per sq ft (over $37,500 per sq m).
I loved going up to the World Trade Center's observation deck in the summer of 1982 - I really felt elated - but hated going to the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago on a windy night back in 1991. I was almost sick because of the unnerving swaying of the building.
However tall the Burj Dubai may come to be, a new mega skyscraper that will dwarf it is already on the drawing board: The Nakheel Tower. Man's ambition never ceases to amaze me.