Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai) opens: the tallest building in the world


With its final height kept as a secret until the last minute, we witnessed the incredible opening of the tallest building in the world.

The Burj , an engineering masterpiece designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM), was finally renamed in honor to Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the ruling sheik of Abu Dhabi who helped Dubai during the financial crisis with over US $25 billion.

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The 828m tall structure established quite a distance from the Taipei 101, which used to hold the title for the tallest building in the world with 509m, that’s almost an extra 320m… almost like putting another skyscraper on top of the Taipei 101. This will secure its title for at least a few years.

For more on how the tallest building in the world is structured, you can read this interview with Bill Baker, engineer at SOM.

Cite: Basulto, David. "Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai) opens: the tallest building in the world" 05 Jan 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 19 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=45587>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Although I’m sure this is a major engineering masterpiece, I have nothing but negative feelings for this building. it just seems like a shining symbol of Dubai’s arrogance, greed and foolishness.
    I wonder what the occupancy rate is? I doubt that it’s higher than 10%.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    in conclusion i would like to say and idiom used in my country ” nie je všetko zlato čo sa bliští ” what means all that glitters is not gold … so if we don t care about the height of the tower social an artistic profitability equals to zero , that steel could be used in better way

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Reminds me a bit of that unbuilt scheme in Moscow, with a gigantic Lenin standing on top of a huge tiered wedding cake. But more shiny.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This is absolutely an Arab acoomplishment. and by the way 100% of the units were sold, all of them were sold.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      i sure hope your don’t read my statements a being anti-Arab. I’m anti-greed and anti-stupidity which I think Dubai is very guilty of. Nothing to do with being Arab. America is just as guilty of this as demonstrated by the pathetic Freedom Towers. I’m not a huge fan of Leibiskind but at least his designs had thought.

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      HAHAHAA!!!! An Arab accomplishment!!??? yeah right. That you can pay something doesn’t mean that you know how to make it…you guys really have lost the point. 300 M people speaks Arabic, only 15 M speaks Greek…Greece publish more books per year in Greek than the Arab speaking world. Sorry guys, welcome to the XXI century, catch me if you can.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Zied, just because 100% of the units sold out doesn’t mean that 100% of the units will be used. All of those units were sold under “speculation” that Dubai real estate prices would increase. Now that they’ve crashed it’s more than likely that the majority of investors didn’t make the majority of their payments, hence the majority of the towers units are probably not sold.

      Also, having worked for Nakheel, did you know that the Sheikhs “engineering department” purchased at least 20 percent of every development to artificially fool investors into thinking that a development was selling out quickly? Therefore even the best development in Dubai (which are still probably a pile of sand) only sold a maximum of 80% of it’s units.

      I also believe that NY’s Freedom Towers are a great tribute to the previous towers.
      Finally, Arabs didn’t build any of the Burj Khalifa. They borrowed money from Westerners (much of which they don’t have the money to pay back), used Indian labour, used American architects, used many Australian, English and American development managers / analysts etc… But the Arabs didn’t. Really do anything besides from say “ahhh yes Ahmed those pictures look nice, let’s build it.”

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        i’m curious, what is your definition of architecture? i don’t want to be haughty, i’m just trying to understand. i mean, all of us have a different idea of architecture, also because it can mean a lot of things. for me, the burj kalifa is architecture. it is the product of a big project that considered all the main prerogatives (firmitas, utilitas and venustas). maybe we can discuss about the results. for example i’m not sure about its beauty, but in the end i’m sure that the designers thought about all the characteristics that i said before, so, for me, it is architecture. also, i think that this is even more: it represents the human genius, an engeneering goal and maybe a point of departure for something that can be more useful for people

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        architecture for me is about questioning and providing coherent spaces which provide identity and help us experience time and space- or have something to say about it. the point is the questioning: when it is obvious each space has been considered this way.
        the fact that the pictures of the Burj are external only for me speaks volumes.
        sure architects worked on this and engineers did an amazing job accomplishing the brief, but i see it as a exercise carried out mindlessly by people not working for themselves or society but for a global system of capitalism. it is not architecture.
        it is a monument of economic propaganda and egotism.

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        Robi is being nice, you must have no understanding of the design that went into this building, they spent 8 months working on every aspect of this structure’s design before breaking ground. From the color of the baseboards in the bathroom to the tint of the glass that covers the building. This is so much architecture, its unbelieveable that you could even be driven to say its not.

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      architecture few years ago and today is mainly an idea and philosophy , but this we can only call civil engineering

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Its nuts, the money spent on the fireworks alone can build the project I’m working on. Now that’s Green…

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Love it or hate it, a salute is in order form the ingenuity and innovation that went into the building…

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    architecture or not, it’s a masterpiece showing how high, or how far, technology and the civil engineering can go… it would be nice seeing all this knowledge used to provide better houses and buildings for our cities…

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I live in Dubai. believe me . it is uglier than it looks in pictures. you can see it no matter where you are in the city, and it is very out of scale. almost scary. ominous. the lighting techniques and the fireworks were amazing yesterday. I think because mainly you couldn’t see the tower. just the lights. the only achievement I see in this is that it was built in 3 years. ( even engineering-wise, its not very impressive, it could grow higher because it grew wider at the base, otherwise its as normal as any skyscraper in terms of construction and engineering. foundations are 50m deep. )

    I’ve heard the final 200m are unoccupied. but might be in case some other tower is built higher…

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    If the tower is interpreted as a phallus symbol, then I think men in that area have a (little) problem down under …

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I don’t understand why everyone is being so negative.
    speaking of architecture value, PLEASE stand in front of it and then comment on its architectural value, trust me a picture will never tell a story. If Dubai didn’t build the tallest building in the world some other rich city would’ve.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Why does everyone repeat the “final height was a secret” line over and over. The moment they finished the spire anyone could work out exactly how high it was, with basic trigonometry!

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Its looking so much like Sci-Fi bldgs we used to see in sci-fi movies.

    I personally love sitting in the cafe’s around it, watching the view of Burj Dubai. It is a nice sculpture.

    I enjoy driving on the road and watching it from distance. I enjoy when it reflects the different colors of sun within the different temperatures. and at night, you can only imagine, it is nice.

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Its looking so much like Sci-Fi bldgs we used to see in sci-fi movies.

    I personally love sitting in the cafe’s around it, watching the view of Burj Dubai. It is a nice sculpture.

    I enjoy driving on the road and watching it from distance. I enjoy when it reflects the different colors of sun within the different temperatures. and at night, Imagine! it is nice.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      LO maryam, seems like you have been having a lot of spare time recently to actually go sit there and experience how the sun light works :p

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I thank whoever built it for the courage and needs to achieve such a challenging task. This building, aside of its formal apperance, is a living testing device to experiment a new concept of urbanization, in wich land usage is kept to a minimun. Few of those buildings will provide the same amount of living space of a whole city. When you travel in google earth probably you noticed how continents are cloose to each other and how limited is the terrestrial surface. We need to evaluate new directions to preserve and ampliate natural unantropized environment. I dont know if this building is the answer, but it makes us think about.

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Sure it was a challenge, however what began as an architectural project, albeit with a client brief to be the tallest, turned out to be a structural engineering feat.
    Well done to the structural engineers. The architects went along for the ride. It never was intended to contribute to society, only to ego’s. The fireworks lasted 10mins – the lifespan of the building will be the true judge over time.
    It certainly lacks any architectural merit but the feat must be admired. Begs the question “What next”…?

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      wow, the world should really ask “what’s next?” for Dubai. haven’t they impressed us much already? and asking this would probably stir in them to once more amaze the world of their ingenuity. maybe we should cry out: “more! more!” and be breath-taken once more.

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