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Thread: Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai) - by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

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    Default Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai) - by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

    Could this be the world’s first super-skyscraper?

    At an unofficial height of 800m+ it is far taller than anything built so far and taller than any proposed structure with the exception of the 1000m solar power chimneys in Australia. Below is a portion of an interview relating to Burj Dubai conducted by skyscrapers.com with Adrain Smith of SOM who has designed this incredible building.




    Burj Dubai is an interesting project because there is very little context for a building of this height to draw from in Dubai. The city has a heritage similar to Bahrain – it’s a historic Middle Eastern trading port with lots of desert and the same water conditions, but here I am trying to connect on a more organic level. You know the onion dome shapes that you see in mosques and other buildings in Dubai, for example; we used these shapes but in plan, not in elevation. The onion dome shapes will only be seen when looking up from near the base at certain angles.


    At the setbacks?

    Yes, so if you point it out to someone who doesn’t know about it they might say, "Ah-ha! I see what you’re talking about!" The other aspect that relates to Dubai is the desert flower - the shape of the desert flower has three major petals and three minor petals. This is seen in plan and is a central organizing force in the building.


    Will the building have lobes as you might see it from the top view?

    Yes, the lobes at the base of the building are the entry vestibules to the various functions. Looking down from the sky you would be able to see these elements and discern the shape of the flower. The base of the building will be very dense with a stainless steel latticework, which will have characteristics similar to the traditional mashrabiyya screens used in Islamic architecture. The traditional screens are typically made of wood, and they are used to block a lot of light and heat from coming into the spaces they contain, giving a filtered light quality to the interior space. Usually you can open pieces of the screen if you want to look out. The base of Burj Dubai will be heavily screened on the first three or four levels to give it a dense metallic texture.


    Will the building be a mix of concrete and steel?

    The structure is all reinforced concrete below the spire. The spire above the observation floors will be steel. Architecturally, the building will transition from a solid base expression to a vertically expressed midddle section of polished stainless steel projected metal fins and glass. I wanted to use only vertical elements here because the fine dust in Dubai's air will build up on any horizontal projecting elements of the wall. They have sandstorms quite frequently so in order to reduce maintenance costs this tower will have virtually no horizontal ledges.


    Burj Dubai is going to be an incredibly tall building from the renderings I’ve seen. Can you tell us how tall you’re going to build it?

    Well, we want to keep it purposely under wraps so that nobody knows the height until it’s finished. Emaar, our client, definitely wants Burj Dubai to be the tallest building in the world upon completion. We may include elements that can grow during construction, if needed. You know from the history of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building that height can be added to the design during construction.


    When you’re building that tall, what kinds of challenges do you face? It seems to me that when you take it to that next level the economic challenges must be astronomical compared to other super-tall buildings such as Sears Tower?

    Economics is a very important issue, and I’ll get back to that, but from a structural engineering perspective I believe we’re pushing the limits of the height at which structures can be built profitably at this time. This one happens to be a concrete core with concrete arms going out towards the three legs of the building. We do believe that we have a project here that can be justified economically. The building will offer terrific condominium units of the highest standard with incredible views at a very high efficiency ratio of net to gross area. The combination of residential and hotel uses makes this a viable project economically. We have learned this from both Tower Palace III in Seoul, Korea and Trump Tower Chicago, both very tall buildings which are predominantly residential.


    Is there any similarity to the bundled tube concept of Sears Tower and One Magnificent Mile?

    No, and the structural concept being used in _Burj Dubai structure could only be used in residential and hotel-type buildings because of the cellular nature of the floorplan. But it happens to be a very efficient and cost-effective structure because it's all concrete. Concrete is the least expensive and most rigid material for tall buildings. If this were done in steel it would move too much in the wind for a residential building. The structure will be very different from Sears and One Mag Mile.


    I suppose it's no coincidence then that the highest residences you could have in a steel structure are those within the John Hancock Center.

    Well, one could go taller than the Hancock Center in steel but the economics of the steel structure would be prohibitive given the stiffness that the structure would have to achieve. Super-tall building engineering is all about trying to eliminate the perception of movement within the building.

    Does that have to do with a bettter quality of concrete?

    Well, that’s interesting. This building has been engineered very carefully, and on super-tall buildings there are all sorts of factors that affect how the structure will work. For example, a building with the same shape of floor plate all the way up and down is not as good as a shape that changes as it goes up. And there’s a phenomenon when the wind blows on a building: let’s say the wind is blowing from the west – it will hit the west façade and it has to get around the building, so it starts moving up the wall, down, and around the sides. The wind actually accelerates because it has to move not only the air that’s blocked by the façade but also the air by the two sides, compressing the air as it moves around the tower. This compression at the tower's edge and subsequent decompression on the back side of the tower creates eddies, or vortexes, that can exert stronger forces on the building than the wind itself and these forces tend to pull or rock the building from side to side. It is this acceleration of movement that we design to control.
    _
    Was there anything remarkable about the way your design for _Tower Palace Three, Tower G in Seoul was designed to handle wind loads?

    Yes, basically the shape and skin texture of the building play an important role in vortex shedding because they can help to prevent the forces from building up in a harmonious way. The three-legged shape of the floor plan on Tower Palace III and Burj Dubai give the buildings significant width to withstand horizontal movement and depth to buttress against the wind forces.

    We’ve been through three wind tunnel tests on Burj Dubai. One of the important things we learned was that the taller legs need to be on the sides of the prevailing wind rather than the front face because that sheds the vortexes more effectively. The texture of the façade and the weight distribution also affect how wind impacts the structure – for instance how much weight is at the top of the building, and where the columns are placed.

    When do they expect to start construction?

    They want to start foundations in January 2004.

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    It looks fasinating, its a bit messy though. itll take me a while to get used to it. I wsnt sure wether it was a pipe dream or not a t first but its much more serious. if it does become the wtb then I hope that it gets overtaken shothly after its completed.

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    I agree, the bottom is a mess. I like how the top dissolves though.

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    It seems to have about 180 floors, i havent counted them, but that or more. The likeleyhood of it being overtaken soon is very small.

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    The liklihood of it being built is even smaller.

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    Au contraire, if building super-tall is based on ego and money then I'd say it has a very good chance of being built. Who knows exactly how tall though.

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    I happen to like the base.

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    The base would be pretty nasty of a European city fabric or even that of the older, more urban US cities but it works well in semi-urban context of a place like Dubai.


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    The setting is perfect.

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    Given that the environment in Dubai is a flat desert, with few other tall buildings around, the views out of the apartments are going to be pretty boring. It will be akin to looking out of the window of an airplane.

  11. #11
    Senior Member JonY's Avatar
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    An amazing looking structure to say the least.

    The urban plan pic that JM Garcia posted makes it look like the world's largest sun dial.

    Quote from the Adrian Smith interview in regard to the overall structural shape "the shape of the desert flower has three major petals and three minor petals.". Not the first time a scraper has been formed around the shape of a flower. I always somehow find that amusing.

    If all goes well and according to plan, Burj Dubai's construction is expected to be completed by 2008/9.

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    Just for bragging rights, I hope the Freedom Tower is the tallest for at least a day...

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eugenius
    Given that the environment in Dubai is a flat desert, with few other tall buildings around, the views out of the apartments are going to be pretty boring. It will be akin to looking out of the window of an airplane.
    I agree. What's the point of building something that tall out on the edge of Dubai? It'll look almost as silly as it will impressive.

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    JMGarcia wrote:
    it works well in semi-urban context of a place like Dubai.
    I have this nagging feeling that such a large tower will feel horribly out of place in the semi-urban setting. Secondly, looking at the rendering, all of the greenery and the lake seem to be terrible wastes in the desert region. I know the water is desalinated but still... Other than this the design seems nice.

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    Burj Dubay is defenetly an amaizing structure if build but, how can such a nation or city build something like that. I understand they are prospering but, are they really wealthy enough to build such a massive project? I believe this project will go bankrupt or something will go wrong stopping the project or at least giving it a smaller height. The burj dubay is an amaizing structure not for the building itself but for its suroundings. The building itself is not my tipe. It seems to belong in a past age. From what ive seen in present building desighns, such buildings like world financial center and freedom tower look better and much more modern than this but yet, it does not look bad at all.

    Do any of u think the burj dubay will go bankrupt? Prease reply. thanks

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