UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The World’s Tallest Building
By Adrian Rodriguez
Salt Lake City, UT, United States
The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building and can be found in downtown Dubai. The city is located on the coast of the Persian Gulf and is one of seven emirates (political territories) that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dubai’s wealth was historically based on the oil industry, like much of the Middle East, but now has a thriving economy based on tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services.
The Burj Khalifa was inspired by the vision of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum who is the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE. The Sheikh wanted to make Dubai the center of business and commerce for the Middle East and develop a world class city. The construction of the Burj Khalifa was an integral part of his plan.
The building is 828 meters tall and is more than 160 stories. Inside you will find 1,044 private residences, 37 floors for corporate offices and 160 hotel guest rooms. Outside the world’s tallest building there is a park that is 11 hectares (110,000 square meters) and has six fountain water features.
Design and Construction
To construct the building there was competition amongst architects from all over the world. Finally the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill won the competition and prepared for a long project.
You may be surprised to know that the design of the Burj Khalifa was inspired by nature. The architects used the local Hymenocallis desert flower’s symmetrical structure to organize their designs. The tower is composed of three elements arranged around a center core that form a Y-shaped structure.
The construction of the Burj Khalifa started in January 2004 and was completed six years later. The building required 45,000 cubic meters of concrete that weighed more than 110,000 tons for the foundation alone. In total the world’s tallest building used 330,000 cubic meters of concrete, 39,000 tons of steel rebar and took 22 million person hours to build. At the very top, the spire, which helps give the building its world-record height, is made of 4,000 tons of steel. It was built inside the building and lifted to its final height of 200 meters using a hydraulic pump.
According to its website, the Burj Khalifa holds seven world records, including:
- tallest building
- tallest free-standing structure
- largest number of stories
- highest occupied floor
- highest outdoor observation deck
- elevator with the longest travel distance
- tallest service elevator
The grounds of the Burj Khalifa were designed to impress with beautiful gardens and fountains. The gardens are partially irrigated by water that is collected through the condensate collection system, created by the hot and humid Dubai air and the building’s air conditioning system. It provides about 15 million gallons of water per year.
If you are able to visit this unique structure, you can stay in its hotel, shop in its mall, and eat at its many restaurants (some are the same as ones you’d find in the US). You can get a glimpse of all of Dubai from the observation deck on the 124th floor. You’ll see construction cranes erecting more high rises, with nothing but sand beyond the city limits.
Standing outside the Burj Khalifa in downtown Dubai, you get the feeling that the city is unreal, similar to standing on the Las Vegas strip. All the buildings are architectural wonders, everything is first class, and the Ferraris and Lamborghinis zip by. It is truly an oasis in the desert.
Have a suggestion for this story? We’d love for you to submit it!
- Connecting to the Standards: Geometry (Grade 7)
- If the temperature drops four degrees Fahrenheit every 1,000 feet, how much colder is it at the top of the building than it is at the bottom? Write your answer in scientific notation.
- If an average of 2.5 people live in each residence, how many people total live in the building? Write your answer in scientific notation.
- Given that construction started in 2004, and assuming that it proceeded at a consistent rate, create a table listing how tall the building was at the end of each year until it was completed. Write your answer in scientific notation.
- Every 300 meters you go up the temperature drops two degrees Celsius, how much does it drop at the top of the tallest building?
Social Justice Questions
- This structure used a tremendous amount of resources during the building process, and its maintenance continues that trend. How do you feel about this excessive consumption relative to the poverty that other areas in the region and world contain?
- Construction workers, like the ones used to build this tower, receive minimum wage for their work. Do you think it’s fair to build such a lavish building on labor paid these low rates? What if paying the contractors a fair wage means the building is less substantial? Compare the salaries of construction workers in Dubai with those in New York City.
Share Your Story
Write your own Global Math Story and send it to us!