Burj Dubai's exact height is 'still a secret'

Builder keeping actual height of tower a secret as 'it's part of mystique of project'.

TOP TOWER: The Burj Dubai is the world's tallest building. (Getty Images)

TOP TOWER: The Burj Dubai is the world's tallest building. (Getty Images)

In the annals of tall skyscrapers, there is no doubt that the soon-to-open Burj Dubai will be the world's tallest. But how tall is known to only a few.

"It's still a secret," William Baker of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP, the tower's structural engineer, said in an interview ahead of the Burj Dubai's Jan 4 opening.

"The client (Emaar Properties) will only let us say it's more than 800 metres (2,625 feet) tall. It's part of the mystique of the project," he said.

Baker said the architects wondered if someone would try to figure out the slender tower's height by measuring its shadow.

Chicago-based Skidmore developed the "buttressed core" structural system that resembles a gigantic "Y" to support the super-tall tower, which is nearly twice as tall as Skidmore's 442-metre (1,389 feet) Willis Tower in Chicago.

The 35-year-old Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower and once the world's tallest building, will be bumped down to fifth spot, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which tracks such things. The current record-holder, the Taipei 101, will be dropped to second.

Seven of the world's 10 tallest towers are in Asia, all built in the past 13 years.

Jan Klerks of the Council on Tall Buildings said the group has asked to know the tower's exact height.

"We have expressed this a number of times, but if there are reasons not to disclose it, then I guess we have to do without an official number. We also do not know why they chose not to disclose the number. The only thing we are sure of is that it is the tallest building in the world, and that it is at least 800 metres," Klerks said in an email.

The Burj Dubai "really cannot be rationalised through urban scarcity and land prices," Klerks said. "As such it is very much an iconic building, aiming at those who want an iconic address."

Apparently, recent global financial problems have not hurt sales of the approximately 1,100 one- to three-bedroom residences in the tower, which are "pretty much 100 percent sold out," Baker said. Those include corporate "apartments" near the summit topping out at around the 164th floor.

A luxury Armani hotel will occupy the bottom floors.

The cost of the tower has been put at around $1.5 billion in published reports.

From the 124th floor observation deck of the tower viewers can see 50 miles (80 km) on a clear day.

Terraces are located at setbacks spiraling up the tapered tower, which is based on the "geometries of the desert flower and the patterning systems embodied in Islamic architecture," according to its promotional literature.

The air is noticeably cooler and fresher on the terraces compared to the stifling heat and humidity at ground level during Dubai's summer, Baker said.

He said it takes about two minutes to get to the summit on some of the fastest elevators in the world, which travel at up to 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour).

The tower's exterior is glass and steel that would cover 17 soccer fields, and will require six to eight weeks to clean.

Concrete was used extensively in the core, enough to build a sidewalk 1,283 miles (2,065 km) long, and the steel reinforcing bar used would stretch a quarter of the way around the Earth. The cooling system produces enough condensation to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools a year, which will be used to water the grounds. (Reuters)

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Posted by: Doug

Anyone with access to Google would know this. I don't know why people still seem to think it's a massive secret, unless the TRA's been blocking access to most major news websites around the world

Posted by: The Grand Master

I fully agree with the many whom their view it is not important to know the actual height of the tower. However lets play a guessing game. I think the actual height is a combination of two figures that have significant importance to Dubai. Maybe 1004...1000 is for the journey of 1000 miles starts with one step (that is reflecting Dubai journey towards globalization) and 4 to mark the fourth Anniversary of Shiekh Mohammed taking over from his late brother as a ruler of Dubai. It is a matter of 36 hours to know if my guess is right or wrong (fully or partially). Have fun guys... no need to slap Dubai in every thing they want to do...they are proud of their achievements... let it go as it just a natural human quality even if you disagree with such quality.

Posted by: Yahya

Once the Dubai govt clear out all the dept mess, they should now halt on building vertical towers and concentrate more on beautifying the city. Yes it looks nice from far to see all the high rise towers, but once you drive through them, you will be appalled by the mess that still exist as a result of the construction activity. The city still looks like a big construction site which doesn?t seems to end. The dirt and dust is still everywhere. I hardly see green spots in Dubai. I am an Omani and I live in Muscat, and I can proudly say that Muscat is far more beautiful than Dubai, even though we do not have high rise towers like Dubai. It is not that we cannot build those structures, but it is just that we don?t want to spoil the tranquillity that we have with those massive structures. If you drive through the streets of Muscat, you will be amazed by the amont of trees and greenery that is there. I addition, we have a huge space of land, so why should we cramp people in tiny areas ?

Posted by: Mohad

Jim, the question is not 'who cares' or 'height'... question is "Why does Jim hate UAE's achievements" but yet reads the article, stays and enjoys UAE money. Please clarify.

Posted by: MM

All negative minded residents, can you please kindly stop crying, maybe you don't appreciate art, but there are people who enjoy it. So please, do not spoil our moments. This is an architectural achievement for the city. Congratulations Dubai. We are proud of your achievements and proud to live and experience it first hand.

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