High times

James
Monday 08 Nov 2010

SOM's Burj Khalifa hits the record books

The architects and engineers at the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) have redefined what's possible with supertall buildings in the design of Burj Khalifa. By combining cutting-edge technologies and cultural influences, SOM created a global icon that is a focus of a model for future urban centers and speaks to the global movement towards compact, livable urban areas. The Tower and its surrounding neighbourhood are more centralised than any other new development in Dubai. At the center of a new downtown neighbourhood, Burj Khalifa's mixed-use program of hotel, residential and office space focuses the area's development density and provides direct connections to mass transit systems.

Burj Khalifa's architecture has embodied references to Islamic architecture and reflects the modern global community it is designed to serve. The building's 'Y' shaped plan provides the maximum amount of perimeter for windows in living spaces without developing internal unusable area. As the tapering tower rises, setbacks occur at the ends of each 'wing' in an upward spiraling pattern that decreases the mass of the tower as the height increases. These setbacks were modeled in the wind tunnel to minimise wind forces.

SOM also completed over two million sq ft of interior space for the residential component and an art program for the tower which placed and specified over 500 pieces of individual local and international fine art pieces. The premiere featured art piece for the tower's residential lobby was completed by the internationally renowned artist Jaume Plensa and is entitled World Voices. 

Standing tall at 828m, Burj Khalifa holds the record in all three categories as recognised by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (highest architectural top, highest occupied floor and highest tip). 

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