Design

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 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.

Architecture

The tower is designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which also designed the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago, Illinois 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. According to Marshall Strabala, an SOM architect who worked on the building’s design team, Burj Khalifa was designed based on the 73-floor Tower Palace Three, an all-residential building in Seoul, South Korea. In its early planning, Burj Khalifa was intended to be entirely residential.

Subsequent to the original design by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, Emaar Properties chose Hyder Consulting to be the supervising engineer. Hyder was selected for its expertise in structural and MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) engineering.  Hyder Consulting’s role was to supervise construction, certify SOM’s design, and be the engineer and architect of record to the UAE authorities. Emaar Properties also engaged GHD, an international multidisciplinary consulting firm, act as an independent verification and testing authority for concrete and steelwork.

Hymenocallis
Hymenocallis

The design of Burj Khalifa is derived from patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture. The design architect Adrian Smith has said the triple-lobed footprint of the building was inspired by 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 27 terraces in Burj Khalifa. 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 1.5 m.

The spire of Burj Khalifa is composed of more than 4,000 tonnes  of structural steel. The central pinnacle pipe weighing 350 tonnes  was constructed from inside the building and jacked to its full height of over 200 m using a strand jack system. The spire also houses communications equipment.

More than 1,000 pieces of art will adorn the interiors of Burj Khalifa, while the residential lobby of Burj Khalifa will have the artwork of 196 bronze and brass alloy cymbals representing the 196 countries of the world. The visitors in this 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.

The hotel interior will be decorated by Giorgio Armani. An Armani Hotel, the first of four by Armani, will occupy 15 of the lower 39 floors. The hotel will be opened on 18 March 2010. The Sky Lobbies on 43 and 76 floors will house swimming pools. Floors through to 108 will have 900 private residential apartments (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 76th floor of the tower.

Corporate offices and suites fill most of the remaining floors, except for a 122nd, 123rd and 124th floor where the At.mosphere restaurant, sky lobby and an indoor and outdoor observation deck is located respectively. Burj Khalifa will recieves its first residents from, February 2010,they will be among the first of 25,000 people who will live there. The outdoor observation deck, opened on 5 January 2010, is the highest in the world, at 442 m. Tickets are time stamped at 30-minute intervals, on specific days, in order to carefully manage the daily rush of sightseers. Introductory ticket price is AED 100 for adults and AED 75 for children up to 12 years.

Burj Khalifa is expected to hold up to 25,000 people at any one time. A total of 57 elevators and 8 escalators are installed, the fastest rising and descending at up to 10 m/s. Engineers had considered installing the world’s first triple-deck elevators, but the final design calls for double-deck elevators. The building has 2,909 stairs from the ground floor to the 160th floor.

The exterior cladding of Burj Khalifa consists of 142,000 m2 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  cooler than at its base. Over 26,000 glass panels were used in the exterior cladding of Burj Khalifa. Over 300 cladding specialists from China were brought in for the cladding work on the tower.

The graphic design identity work for Burj Khalifa is the responsibility of Brash Brands, who are based in Dubai. Design of the global launch events, communications, and visitors centers for Burj Khalifa 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 Burj Khalifa, which toured Milan, London, Jeddah, Moscow and Delhi.

Maintenance

To wash the 24,348 windows, a horizontal track has been installed on the exterior of Burj Khalifa at levels 40, 73 and 109. Each track holds a 1,500 kg  bucket machine which moves horizontally and then vertically using heavy cables. Above level 109, up to tier 27 traditional cradles from davits are used. The top of the spire, however, is reserved for specialist window cleaners, who brave the heights and high winds dangling by ropes to clean and inspect the top of the pinnacle. Under normal conditions, when all building maintenance units will be operational, it will take 36 workers three to four months to clean the entire exterior facade.

Unmanned machines will clean the top 27 additional tiers and the glass spire. The cleaning system was developed in Australia at a cost of A$8 million.

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 design.

Interiors

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 interior were inspired by local cultural while staying mindful of the buildingís status as a global icon and residence.

Interiors

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 interior were inspired by local cultural while staying mindful of the buildingís status as a global icon and residence.

Artwork

Over 1,000 pieces of art from prominent Middle Eastern and international artists will adorn Burj Khalifa and the surrounding Emaar 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 collaboration.

Floor Plan

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 a restaurant and level 124, the tower’s public observatory.

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 Burj Khalifa Gourmet Market, a gourmet convenience store and meeting place for the residents. Valet parking will be provided for guests and visitors.

Floors Use
160 and above Mechanical
156–159 Communication and broadcast
155 Mechanical
139–154 Corporate suites
136–138 Mechanical
125–135 Corporate suites
124 At the Top observatory
123 Sky lobby
122 At.mosphere restaurant
111–121 Corporate suites
109–110 Mechanical
77–108 Residential
76 Sky lobby
73–75 Mechanical
44–72 Residential
43 Sky lobby
40–42 Mechanical
38–39 Armani Hotel suites
19–37 Armani Residences
17–18 Mechanical
9–16 Armani Residences
1–8 Armani Hotel
Ground Armani Hotel
Concourse Armani Hotel
B1–B2 Parking, mechanical