Despite its intimidating height, Burj Khalifa is an active urban monument with something for everyone
Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, commands attention. Whether you’re strolling through downtown, floating in a plane above the city skyline or approaching Dubai by car from another Emirate, it’s difficult not to notice this tower – the metropolis’ magnetic centre and the crown jewel of its compelling architecture-scape.
Developed by Emaar Properties PJSC, Burj Khalifa stands at over 828 metres and contains more than 160 stories. More than just the world’s tallest building, it also holds the records for tallest structure and tallest freestanding structure in existence. Burj Khalifa’s designers were selected through a competition, the results of which awarded the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) with Adrian Smith FAIA, RIBA as consulting design partner, the privilege of conceptualising the tower.
Its triple-lobed footprint was inspired by the Hymenocallis flower, and its three primary components wrap around a central core, which ascends into a moulded spire at the peak of the building. Its y-shaped floor plan allows for the widest possible view of the Arabian Gulf.
Nada Andric was responsible for Burj Khalifa’s interior design, which marries glass, stainless steel, gleaming dark stones, silver travertine flooring, Venetian stucco walls, handwoven rugs and stone flooring. Through her design, Andric attempted to pay homage to Emirati culture while situating Burj Khalifa within a global context. Works of art by renowned Middle Eastern and international artists commissioned by Emaar punctuate the walls of the building. The sophisticated aesthetic that inspired the anatomy of the tower extends into the nearby park, with its 11 hectares of greenery and aquatic instalments meant to complement the tower’s three purposes as a hotel, residential building and office space. The park includes a promenade along the Dubai lake, outdoor public spaces and restaurants, a playground and a leisure forest grove, among other features. Burj Khalifa is crowned by an observation deck providing a 360-degree view of the city, to which guests arrive via a high-speed elevator that travels at 10 metres per second.
More than a static structure, Burj Khalifa is consistently incorporated into the socio-cultural fabric of Dubai through a steady stream of activities, events and initiatives. In March 2013, for example, the world’s largest peace dove, composed of 1.2 million buttons in the colours of the UAE flag, was unveiled at the Burj Khalifa complex as part of a ceremony for the first Peace and Sport Middle East Forum, held at the end of April that year.