While it is superlative in every respect, it is the unique design of Burj Khalifa that truly sets it
apart. The centrepiece of this new world capital attracted the world's most esteemed designers to
an invited design competition.
Ultimately, the honour of designing the world's tallest tower was awarded to the global leader in
creating ultra-tall structures, the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) with
Adrian Smith FAIA, RIBA, consulting design Partner. The selected design was subject to an extensive
peer review program to confirm the safety and effectiveness of the structural systems.
The architecture features a triple-lobed footprint, an abstraction of the Hymenocallis flower. The
tower is composed of three elements arranged around a central core. The modular, Y-shaped
structure, with setbacks along each of its three wings provides an inherently stable configuration
for the structure and provides good floor plates for residential. Twenty-six helical levels
decrease the cross section of the tower incrementally as it spirals skyward.
The central core emerges at the top and culminates in a sculpted spire. A Y-shaped floor plan
maximizes views of the Arabian Gulf. Viewed from the base or the air, Burj Khalifa is evocative of
the onion domes prevalent in Islamic architecture.
Wind Tunnel Testing
Over 40 wind tunnel tests were conducted on Burj Khalifa to examine the effects the wind would have
on the tower and its occupants. These ranged from initial tests to verify the wind climate of
Dubai, to large structural analysis models and facade pressure tests, to micro-climate analysis of
the effects at terraces and around the tower base. Even the temporary conditions during the
construction stage were tested with the tower cranes on the tower to ensure safety at all times.
Stack effect or chimney effect is a phenomenon that effects super-tall building design, and arises
from the changes in pressure and temperature with height. Special studies were carried on Burj
Khalifa to determine the magnitude of the changes that would have to be dealt with in the building
Concourse level to level 8 and level 38 and 39 will feature the Armani Hotel Dubai. Levels 9 to 16
will exclusively house luxurious one and two bedroom Armani Residences.
Floors 45 through 108 are private ultra-luxury residences. The Corporate Suites occupy fill most of
the remaining floors, except for level 122 which houses At.mosphere and level 124, the tower's
public observatory, At the Top, Burj Khalifa.
For the convenience of home owners, the tower has been divided in to sections with exclusive Sky
Lobbies on Levels 43, 76 and 123 that feature state-of-the-art fitness facilities including a
Jacuzzis on Level 43 and 76. The Sky Lobbies on 43 and 76 additionally house swimming pools and a
recreational room each that can be utilized for gatherings and lifestyle events. Offering an
unparalleled experience, both pools open to the outside offering residents the option of swimming
from inside to the outside balcony.
Other facilities for residents include a Residents' Library, and Lafayette Gourmet, a gourmet
convenience store and meeting place for the residents. Valet parking is provided for guests
The interior design of Burj Khalifa public areas was also done by the Chicago office of Skidmore,
Owings & Merrill LLP and was led by award-winning designer Nada Andric. It features glass,
stainless steel and polished dark stones, together with silver travertine flooring, Venetian stucco
walls, handmade rugs and stone flooring. The interiors were inspired by local culture while staying
mindful of the building's status as a global icon and residence.
Over 1,000 pieces of art from prominent Middle Eastern and international artists adorn Burj
Khalifa and the surrounding Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard. Many of the pieces were specially
commissioned by Emaar to be a tribute to the spirit of global harmony. The pieces were selected as
a means of linking cultures and communities, symbolic of Burj Khalifa being an international
Excavation work began for Burj Khalifa in January 2004 and over the ensuing years to its completion,
the building passed many important milestones on its goal to become the tallest man-made structure
the world has ever seen. In just 1,325 days since excavation work started in January, 2004, Burj
Khalifa became the tallest free-standing structure in the world.
Over 45,000 m3 (58,900 cu yd) of concrete, weighing more than 110,000 tonnes were used to construct
the concrete and steel foundation, which features 192 piles buried more than 50 m (164 ft) deep.
Burj Khalifa'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.
Exterior cladding of Burj Khalifa began in May 2007 and was completed in September 2009. The vast
project involved more than 380 skilled engineers and on-site technicians. At the initial stage of
installation, the team progressed at the rate of about 20 to 30 panels per day and eventually
achieved as many as 175 panels per day.
The tower accomplished a world record for the highest installation of an aluminium and glass façade,
at a height of 512 metres. The total weight of aluminium used on Burj Khalifa is equivalent to that
of five A380 aircraft and the total length of stainless steel bull nose fins is 293 times the
height of Eiffel Tower in Paris.
In November, 2007, the highest reinforced concrete corewalls were pumped using 80 MPa concrete from
ground level; a vertical height of 601 metres. Smashing the previous pumping record on a building
of 470m on the Taipei 101; the world's second tallest tower and the previous world record for
vertical pumping of 532 metres for an extension to the Riva del Garda Hydroelectric Power Plant in
1994. The concrete pressure during pumping to this level was nearly 200 bars.
The amount of rebar used for the tower is 31,400 metric tons - laid end to end this would extend
over a quarter of the way around the world.
Burj Khalifa Construction Timeline
||Level 50 reached
||Level 100 reached
||Level 110 reached
||Level 120 reached
||Level 130 reached
||Level 141 reached
world's tallest building
||Level 150 reached
world's tallest free-standing structure
||Level 160 reached
world's tallest man-made structure
||Completion of spire
Burj Khalifa tops out
||Exterior cladding completed
||Official launch ceremony