As I have previously mentioned, Adrian D. Smith designed the world’s tallest structure: the Burj Khalifa. This skyscraper is located in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai and has a total height of 829.8 m and a roof height (excluding antenna, but including a 244 m spire) of 828 m.

The building, modular in plan, is laid out on a three-lobed footprint that is an abstract rendering of the local Hymenocallis flower. The Y-shaped plan plays a central role in the reduction of wind forces on the tower. As the tower increases in height, the wings step back in a spiral configuration, changing the building’s shape at each tier and so reducing the effect of the wind on the building. The central core emerges at the tower’s top and is finished with a spire, which reaches more than 200 meters. A three-story podium anchors the tower in place; the podium and two-story basement alone measure some 186,000 square meters in their own right. The tower’s exterior cladding is made up of aluminum and stainless-steel panels, vertical stainless-steel tubular fins, and more than 28,000 hand-cut glass panels.

The sky lobbies on the 43rd and 76th floors house swimming pools. Floors 20 through 108 have 900 private residential apartments (which, according to the developer, sold out within eight hours of being on the market). Corporate offices and suites fill most of the remaining floors, except for the 122nd, 123rd and 124th, where the At.mosphere restaurant, sky lobby and an indoor and outdoor observation deck are located respectively.

Beyond its record-breaking height, the Burj Khalifa incorporates holistic strategies for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems that make the building highly efficient, while minimizing environmental impact and reducing material usage and waste. Providing comfort and a healthy indoor environment were central goals. The high-performance curtain wall attenuates the summer heat and delivers superb radiant thermal comfort.

The team designed a “life boat” vertical transportation system with advanced monitoring and controls to provide easy egress during emergency events. The office pavilion integrates a backup system that can serve critical functions, such as supplying and draining water during a power outage. A “sky-sourced” ventilation system pulls cool, less humid air through the top of the building while employing one of the largest condensate recovery systems in the world.

I find fascinating how a building of this magnitud is able to stand on its own without any additional help. Also how the design firm had the ability to combine the utility of a “Y” shaped plan to:

  • Maximize the perimeter for residential and hotel uses while keeping the efficiency of the floor plan.
  • Provide a stable platform to support a building of this height while maintaining the tower’s slender and elegant shape.

The simple Y-shaped plan reduces wind forces and also enhances constructability. Each wing, with its own high-performance concrete core and perimeter columns, buttresses the others via a six-sided central core, or hexagonal hub. The result is a tower that is extremely stiff torsionally. The rigorous geometry of the design aligns all of the common central core and column elements.

Altogether the Burj Khalifa it is an exceptional and incredible structure which will surely give you goosebumps if you have the opportunity of seeing it in person.

Information resources

Pictures resources