10 Year Award of Excellence: Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Consulting Structural Engineering Partner
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Chicago
Lessons from the World's Tallest Building 10 Years On
The Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building, has redefined what is possible in the design and engineering of supertall buildings. 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 a wind tunnel to minimize wind forces. The structural system, termed a “buttressed core,” is designed to efficiently support a supertall building utilizing a strong central core, buttressed by its three wings. The vertical structure is tied together at the mechanical floors through outrigger walls in order to maximize the building’s stiffness. The result is an efficient system, where the building’s vertical structure is used to support both gravitational and lateral loads.
Burj Khalifa has one of the largest condensate recovery systems in the world. Collecting water from air-conditioning condensate discharge prevents it from entering the wastewater stream and reduces the need for municipal potable water. The tower’s management systems utilize smart lighting and mechanical controls, which lower operational costs, allow for a more efficient use of building resources and services and better control of internal comfort conditions. With over 185,800 square meters of interior space designed for Burj Khalifa, planning of the building’s interior space began at the earliest stages of its design focusing on three main goals—to recognize and acknowledge the building’s height, to integrate its structural and architectural rationale, and to appreciate the locale’s heritage, history and culture.