It is the unique design of Burj Khalifa that truly sets it apart without any doubt. The world’s most esteemed designers of the world were invited to submit their designs proposals; a competition among great architects and designers.
Ultimately, the honor 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 subjected to an extensive peer review program to confirm the safety and effectiveness of the structural systems.
The design of Burj Khalifa was derived from patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture. The building’s design incorporates cultural and historical elements particular to the region, according to the structural engineer, Bill Baker of SOM,
Burj Khalifa was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) which incidentally, also designed the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago and the new One World Trade Center in New York City among numerous other famous high-rises.
The Burj Khalifa used the bundled tube design, invented by Fazlur Rahman Khan. Proportionally, the design uses half the amount of steel used in the construction of the Empire State Building thanks to the tubular system. 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. 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 with NORR Group Consultants International Limited chosen to supervise the architecture of the project. 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. NORR’s role was the supervision of all architectural components including on site supervision during construction and design of a 6-storey addition to the Office Annex Building for architectural documentation. NORR was also responsible for the architectural integration drawings for the Armani Hotel included in the Tower. Emaar Properties also engaged GHD, an international multidisciplinary consulting firm, to act as an independent verification and testing authority for concrete and steelwork.
The Y-shaped plan is ideal for residential and hotel usage, with the wings allowing maximum outward views and inward natural light.
According tp the design architect, Adrian Smith, 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 a 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. At its tallest point, the tower sways a total of 1.5 m (4.9 ft).
To support the unprecedented height of the building, the engineers developed a new structural system called the buttressed core, consisting of a hexagonal core reinforced by three buttresses that form the ‘Y’ shape, enabling the building to support itself laterally and keeps it from twisting.
The spire of Burj Khalifa is composed of more than 4,000 tonnes (4,400 short tons; 3,900 long tons) of structural steel. The central pinnacle pipe weighing 350 tonnes (390 short tons; 340 long tons) was constructed from inside the building and jacked to its full height of over 200 m (660 ft) using a strand jack system. The spire also houses communications equipment.
More than 1,000 pieces of art adorns the interiors of Burj Khalifa, while the residential lobby of Burj Khalifa displays the work of Jaume Plensa, featuring 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 exterior cladding of Burj Khalifa consists 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, the exterior temperature at the top of the building is thought to be 6 °C (11 °F) 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.
A 304 room Armani Hotel, the first of four by Armani, occupies 15 of the lower 39 floors. The hotel was supposed to open on 18 March 2010 but after several delays the hotel finally opened the public on 27 April 2010. The corporate suites and offices were also supposed to open from March onwards but the hotel and observation deck remain the only parts of the building which are open.
The sky lobbies on the 43rd and 76th floors houses swimming pools. Floors through to 108 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 receive its first residents from February 2010. They will be among the first of 25,000 people who will live there.
Burj Khalifa is expected to hold up to 35,000 people at any one time. A total of 57 elevators and 8 escalators are installed. The elevators have a capacity of 12 to 14 people per cabin, the fastest rising and descending at up to 18 m/s (59 ft/s). Engineers had considered installing the world’s first triple-deck elevators, but the final design calls for double-deck elevators. The double-deck elevators are equipped with entertainment features such as LCD displays to serve visitors during their travel to the observation deck. The building has 2,909 stairs from the ground floor to the 160th floor.
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.
As illustrated above, 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 which is prevalent in Islamic architecture.