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Burj Khalifa Construction and Operation Cycle Report

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Updated: Jul 4th, 2021

As the operation management concepts are inextricably connected with real-life situations, they are applicable to the construction of buildings and structures. This essay describes the operation cycle of Burj Khalifa’s erection to prove the validity of these concepts for this process.

Background Information

Background About the Designer

The construction of the world’s highest building required collaboration between the members of a highly professional team with an impeccable reputation. That is why the honor of Burj Khalifa’s design was awarded to a respectful Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) with Adrian Smith, an outstanding architect, and specialist of international renown, as consulting design partner (“Building a Global Icon,” n.d.). COM is currently one of the most influential and engineering, architecture, urban planning, and interior design firms worldwide. It was founded in 1936, and, as of this date, SOM has completed 10,000 projects in more than 50 countries across the globe (COM, n.d.). The firm is distinguished for its commitment to innovations, solid background, design excellence, and sustainability.

SOM focuses on cooperation with all stakeholders and a unique approach to every project. The architecture firm’s portfolio contains modern learning centers, research facilities, urban districts, skyscrapers, and high buildings (COM, n.d.). The partnership has already earned 2,000 awards in the field of design and architecture (COM, n.d.). It continues to use innovative techniques in construction in order to create sustainable buildings that contribute to the prevention of climate change.

Background About the Building

Burj Khalifa, located near the downtown of Dubai, is the highest man-made construction in the world. With its height of 828 m, the tower currently holds world records in all categories introduced by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015). It is the tallest building to its architectural top and tip and has the highest occupied floor at the 585 m elevations (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015). The Burj Khalifa’s excavation works started in January 2004, and the construction totally took 1,325 days until the structure’s luxurious official launch ceremony in 2010 (“Building a Global Icon,” n.d.). This building presents a combination of the most innovative technologies in engineering, architecture, and design with local Middle Eastern culture. It became the global icon of development, human progress, advances in technologies, wealth, and success.

Background About the Location

Dubai is an emirate that composes the United Arab Emirates. The discretion of this region from other parts of the country is highly disputable. Although Dubai claims its unique history, this emirate is politically and geographically inseparable from the Gulf region (Kathiravelu, 2016).

Dubai’s urban development currently focuses on the construction of spectacular skyscrapers. A substantial concentration of high-rise buildings in Dubai that meet the standards of sustainability and compete with each other in height and design makes this city highly attractive for foreign investors and tourists. Dubai’s towers provide enough space for business activities and living in response to limited land and dynamic population growth and enhance the level of people’s interaction. However, Dubai’s extremely hot, windy, and dry climate defines the peculiarities of high-rise buildings’ construction in this region.

Production of the Building

Planning Process

Inspiration for the idea

The task of creating the tallest construction in the world required designers, engineers, and constructors the creation of a new form and implementation of innovative technologies. Burj Khalifa’s architecture is inspired by the regional desert Hymenocallis flower and presents the composition of “three elements arranged around a central core” (“Building a Global Icon,” n.d., para. 3). The selected design was thoroughly investigated concerning the effectiveness and safety of all structural systems. Viewed from the air, the tower resembles the “onion domes prevalent in Islamic architecture” (“Building a Global Icon,” n.d., para. 4). The central core of Burj Khalifa culminates in a spire, and a Y-shaped space planning provides ultimate views of the Gulf.

Purpose of the building

Burj Khalifa is a mixed-use building that represents the incorporation of residential, commercial, and business areas for reasonable energy consumption, units’ accessibility, and people’s interaction. The 162-story structure includes residences, offices, multiple retail outlets, and hotels, including a luxurious Armani hotel (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015). Moreover, Burj Khalifa’s residents are provided with sky lobbies, Jacuzzis, fitness facilities, swimming pools, recreation rooms, a Resident’s Library, a public observatory, and a gourmet store (“Building a Global Icon,” n.d.). In general, the whole project consists not only of the tower but pool annex buildings, low-rise offices, an adjoining podium structure as well.

Length of planning

It goes without saying that the construction of the highest building required the thorough development of an architectural plan and the examination of potential risks for the structure’s construction and further exploitation. That is why it takes more than one year of planning and testing of concrete stiffness conducted by the CTL Group (Ghorbanzadeh, 2017). Moreover, the conducted 40 wind tunnel tests examined the impact of wind on the structure and its residents (“Building a Global Icon,” n.d.). These procedures were highly essential as the Burj Khalifa’s construction required both completely new ideas and reliable traditional technologies.

Employees Requirements

Dubai’s employment is a highly controversial issue up to the present day. This project involved 380 qualified in-site technicians and engineers (“Building a Global Icon,” n.d.). According to the official source, during the construction of Burj Khalifa, 7,500 workers with the required professionalism and experience were employed (“Emaar increases height of Burj Dubai; completion in September 2009,” 2008). However, the majority of workers were low-waged migrants from South and East Asia (Kathiravelu, 2016). They suffered from inappropriate conditions of living and unregulated working hours.

Issues Faced

The Burj Khalifa’s architectural plan was elaborated by the design team in the context of potential risks and issues. First of all, a building of such height needs an efficient response to gravity and wind loads (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015). Moreover, modern buildings should meet the standards of sustainability and perform reasonable energy consumption. In addition, the hot and dry Middle-Eastern climate of Dubai requires the usage of substantial materials that may decrease solar radiation and maintain thermal comfort.

Implementing the Plan

Materials used

Burj Khalifa implements an armor-clad structure that strengthens its core, columns, and walls. The tower’s high-modulus concrete consists of fly ash, Portland cement, and various admixtures (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015). In general, the construction of the steel and concrete structure of Burj Khalifa used 39,000 tonnes of steel rebar and 330,000 m3 of concrete (“Building a Global Icon,” n.d.). The height of the tower’s installation of a glass and aluminum façade of 512 m set a world record (“Building a Global Icon,” n.d.).

The combination of external walls made of aluminum with inner concrete walls creates hot air insulation by day and a natural airflow during the night (Darwish, 2014). The Burj Khalifa’s interior design of public areas led by Nada Andric, an outstanding designer, features stainless steel, glass, dark polish stones, Venetian stucco, and silver travertine (“Building a Global Icon,” n.d.). All materials were chosen to provide the tower’s solidity and sustainability and contribute to the symbolic collaboration of traditional culture with global tendencies.

Methods and strategy used in the implementation

The Burj Khalifa’s floor plan was designed to increase the stability of the building on a first-priority basis. It represents the Y-shaped structure formed by three separate wings attached to the central core of the tower (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015).

With the building’s rise, one wing helically “sets back” at each tier (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015, p. 389). This spiraling pattern results in 24 independent primary floor plates that create a stepping geometry, and such innovative form is highly essential for the reducing of the negative wind influence (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015). Burj Khalifa’s building shape helps “to confuse the wind,” as it prevents the organization of the wind vortices (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015, p. 390). This structural system was later defined as a “buttressed core” system that substantially changed the concept of structural design (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015). It features a combination of construction techniques and conventional materials to achieve the impressive heights of buildings.

For Burj Khalifa, the latest achievements in a substantial high-rise building were applied. Three tower cranes were placed close to the tower’s central core. However, one of the fundamental strategies to facilitate and accelerate construction consisted of the minimization of the time when these cranes were used (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015). The sequence of construction was divided into three sections – the adjustment of the central core with slabs, the wing walls with slabs, and the wing nose columns with slabs (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015). For the implementation of perimeter blade columns and walls, workers subsequently employed automatic self-climbing formwork.

An issue faced during implementation

The most challenging implementation issue during the construction of Burj Khalifa was the support of high-modulus concrete at a substantial height. To solve this problem, architects established four separate designs to reduce pumping pressure that inevitably occurs when the tower grows in height (Baker & Pawlikowski, 2015). In addition, Burj Khalfa’s spiraling pattern promotes the reduction of its mass and concrete pressure as well.

Finalizing the Building

Advantages of erecting this building

Burj Khalifa is a respectable example of sustainable high-building that combines the latest technologies with the establishment of comfortable space for people. The mixed-use type of this tower provides a reasonable consumption of energy as commercial, residential, and business areas use energy during the day while hotels consume energy at night. The building helps to reduce traffic emissions due to the accessibility of all services and facilities in one place. Moreover, Burj Khalifa serves as a court for foreign investors and a popular landmark that annually attracts an immeasurable number of tourists.

Disadvantages of erecting this building

The main disadvantage of the tallest building in the world is connected with a potential risk of its destruction due to natural calamities or industrial disasters. In the case of any substantial incident inside the tower, the evacuation of people may be constrained by their number and the building’s size and height.

The construction of Burj Khalifa was oriented on its customers, such as the clients of outlets, hotel tourists, investors, businessmen, and residents. That is why the owners’ desire to create a tower that would impress the whole world by its size, fairness and reliability positively influenced the quality of its construction. However, the conditions of workers who constructed the structure were inappropriate. The substantively accelerated processes of material and economic development of Dubai and its recent focus on tourism, finance, and real estate resulted in international labor migration (Kathiravelu, 2016). However, people experienced low payments, long working hours at high ambient temperatures, and the absence of any comfort.

Issues faced

There is no reliable evidence that Burj Khalifa faced any substantial issues after its erection. High-quality materials, the precise implementation of all systems and facilities inside the building, and an innovative structure provide continuous and efficient building management. However, the price of the Burj Khalifa’s construction and decoration makes the facilities of the tower inaccessible for a significant number of tourists and citizens.

Success Factors

From a personal perspective, Burj Khalifa is a highly efficient building that made a completely new history in the sphere of architecture, design, and engineering. Its stable Y-shaped foundation, wind-resisting texture, sustainability, the largest systems of ventilation and condensation, and multiple facilities for a comfortable visit and living make the tower an outstanding human creation of the 21st century. Burj Khalifa positively influences environmental safety due to its effective energy consumption and the contribution to the reduction of hazardous traffic emissions. The accessibility of commercial and residential areas, restaurants, business offices, and hotels provides almost interminable building production.

The project of Burj Khalifa demonstrates that the development of tall building systems is inevitably related to the modern development of construction methods, material technologies, wind engineering, structural engineering theories, and seismic engineering. The design and experience of Burj Khalifa’s efficient erection and management promote the creation of even higher buildings in the future.

Recommendations

As the erection of Burj Khalifa was highly successful, at the present day, the control over the tower’s facilities and systems may require particular attention to avoid any incident. Moreover, the control of the seismic activity in the region should be exercised to provide the structure’s readiness for a potential natural disaster. Concerning the commercial efficiency of the building, the owners may consider the construction of a cost-effective hotel with affordable prices inside Burj Khalifa to attract more tourists.

Conclusion

The construction of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, required the collaboration between all members of a highly professional team with an impeccable reputation. That is why the honor of Burj Khalifa’s design was awarded to Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) with Adrian Smith, an outstanding architect, as its consulting design partner. Burj Khalifa is located in Dubai, an emirate that composes the United Arab Emirates and currently focuses on the construction of spectacular skyscrapers. The tower presents the combination of the most innovative technologies in engineering, architecture, and design with local Middle Eastern culture. It became the global icon of development, human progress, advances in technologies, wealth, and success.

The Burj Khalifa’s plan designed to increase the stability of the building represents the Y-shaped structure formed by three separate wings attached to the central core of the tower. Its spiraling pattern creates a stepping geometry that prevents the organization of the wind vortices. Burj Khalifa positively influences environmental safety due to its effective energy consumption within 24 hours and the contribution in the reducing of hazardous traffic emissions as all facilities are accessible for customers in one place. In general, this tower is a highly efficient building that made a completely new history in the sphere of architecture, design, and engineering. Its design and methods of construction will encourage the creation of even higher buildings in the future.

References

Baker, B., & Pawlikowski, J. (2015). The design and construction of the world’s tallest building: The Burj Khalifa, Dubai. Structural Engineering International, 25(4), 389-394. Web.

Building a global icon. (n.d.). Burj Khalifa. Web.

Darwish, A. S. (2014). Eco-friendly buildings: The central factor in transitioning to a net neutral community. International Journal of Environment and Sustainability, 3(1), 54-62. Web.

. (2008). Emaar. Web.

Ghorbanzadeh, M. (2017). The harmony between architectural forms and structural. Case study: Burj Khalifa Dubai. Bulletin de la Société Royale des Sciences de Liège, 86, 360 – 371.

Kathiravelu, L. (2016). Migrant Dubai: Low wage workers and the construction of a global city. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

SOM (n.d.) About. Web.

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