The Tallest Building on the Planet (so far)

Here at Safety Fabrications we all take quite an interest in tall buildings and skyscrapers – after all, we manufacture the type of equipment necessary for safe working conditions at dizzying heights.  Last week, one of our team members was lucky enough to visit Dubai and visit the Burj Khalifa, which is currently both the tallest building and the tallest structure in the world, towering above the capital of the Emirate of Dubai at a whopping 828 metres (that’s 2,717 feet for those of us still on Imperial measures).   We thought that our readers would like to know a little more about the Burj which was designed by Adrian Smith (when working at Skidmore, Owings & Merril the firm that designed the Willis Tower and the One World Trade Center).

The design of the Burj was inspired by the Islamic architecture of the region, which includes the Great Mosque of Samarra, the largest mosque in the world, which was sadly mostly destroyed in 1278, leaving behind just the outer wall and the minaret.  The floor geometry of the Burj is Y-shaped in order to maximise residential and hotel space and the height of the building is supported by wings and a buttressed central core which houses the vertical transportation – 57 elevators and 8 escalators.  The whole structure is clad with more than 26,000 reflective glass panels and aluminium and textured stainless steel spandrel panel with vertical tubular fins – providing both an anti-glare shield that combats the extreme desert temperatures and strong winds. 

The tower houses a 304 room hotel, corporate suites and offices, 900 residential apartments, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a restaurant and observation decks.  The Burj’s plumbing system supplies an average of 946,000 litres of water each day with additional piping providing a fire emergency system and chilled water for the air conditioning system.  The Burj sports more than 24,000 windows which are  cleaned by a crew who use ropes to descend from the top to gain access to the top of the building while the lower floors windows are cleaned via  three horizontal track systems  which hold bucket machines, enabling cleaning via traditional cradles from davits.

The Burj Khalifa is the centrepiece of Downtown Dubai,   a development complex that includes the Dubai Mall and the Dubai Fountain, amongst other attractions.  The Dubai Mall features an enormous aquarium 5 metres long, 20 metres deep and 11 metres high, home to more than 30,000 aquatic species including sharks and rays!  Visitors seeking the ultimate thrill can walk through a 48 metre long aquarium tunnel, surrounded by marine life creatures like piranha, crocodiles, penguins, lizards and giant eels.  You can even take a glass bottomed boat ride or, for the most intrepid visitors, go cage snorkelling amongst the sharks or even take a ride on a shark scooter. 

The Dubai Mall is where you get to see a 24 metre high indoor waterfall that spans four levels of the mall and features glass sculptures of human pearl divers to celebrate times gone by when pearl diving was one of the Emirate’s major sources of income.  Venturing once more outside, the Dubai Mall, the foot of the Burj is surrounded by a 27 acre park where the plants are watered with water collected from the building’s cooling system.  At the centre of the park is a series of pools comprising the renowned Dubai Fountain, the largest choreographed fountain system on the planet, shooting water up to 500 feet in the air, accompanied by a range of music from classical to contemporary hits and world music.  The Fountain is illuminated by more than 6,000 lights and 25 coloured projectors, ensuring a spectacular display for enthralled visitors.