This is highest point that is man-made on Earth. And at the top, you can see the curvature of the Earth. We are talking about this modern-day Tower of Babel called Burj Khalifa.
Building the Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa, called the Burj Dubai before its inauguration, is a staggering 828 meters (2716.5 feet) tall, soaring over Dubai. It’s three times as tall as the Eiffel Tower and nearly twice as tall as the Empire State Building. Laid end to end, its pieces stretch over a quarter of the way around the world. Its cloud-piercing height is certainly one of the most impressive facts about Burj Khalifa.
One of the most mind blowing Burj Khalifa facts is how much the materials weigh. To put things in to perspective, the weight of the concrete is equivalent to 100,000 elephants. The total weight of aluminum used on the Burj Khalifa is equivalent to that of five A380 aircraft.
Wind loads were a structural challenge that the Burj Khalifa faced during construction. To understand the behaviour of the wind and the amount of stress it could place on the building, the design team conducted over 40 wind tunnel tests. The top structure of the Burj Khalifa was made to resemble the letter ‘Y’ and each of the three wings of the structure buttressed others through this central core.
Burj Khalifa was designed to be the centrepiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development to include 30,000 homes, 9 hotels, 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of parkland, at least 19 residential skyscrapers, the Dubai Mall, and the 12-hectare (30-acre) artificial Burj Khalifa Lake.
The decision to build Burj Khalifa was reportedly based on the government’s decision to diversify from an oil-based economy to one that is service and tourism based. According to officials, projects like Burj Khalifa needed to be built to garner more international recognition and hence investment.
Some Burj Khalifa trivia about the elevators: the building has the longest single running elevator, which is 140 floors. The Burj Khalifa elevator speed is 10 meters per second, making the elevators among the fastest in the world. The Burj Khalifa elevator time to reach the observation deck on the 124th floor is only one minute. The only elevator after than this is the one in Taipei 101.
The observation levels of the Burj Khalifa are so high that you can see the curvature of the earth on the horizon, about 95km (60 mi) away. The high-rise buildings in the foreground are the financial and trade centers of modern Dubai. The road on the left, heading toward the horizon, is Sheikh Zayed Road, a toll road that connects the major areas of Dubai and the airport.
An outdoor observation deck, named At the Top, opened on 5 January 2010 on the 124th floor. At 452 m (1,483 ft), it was the highest outdoor observation deck in the world when it opened. Although it was surpassed in December 2011 by Cloud Top 488 on the Canton Tower, Guangzhou at 488 m (1,601 ft), Burj Khalifa opened the 148th floor SKY level at 555 m (1,821 ft), once again giving it the highest observation deck in the world on 15 October 2014, until the Shanghai Tower opened in June 2016 with an observation deck at a height of 561 m.
The 124th floor observation deck also features the electronic telescope, an augmented reality device developed by Gsmprjct° of Montréal, which allows visitors to view the surrounding landscape in real-time, and to view previously saved images such as those taken at different times of day or under different weather conditions
You can also see some amazing buildings while you are up there, like the Dubai Frame. The Dubai Frame is an observatory, museum, and monument in Zabeel Park. It holds the record for the largest frame in the world.
And golden building that looked like a sail along the river is the National Bank of Dubai. The building is part of the old downtown of Dubai, along the Dubai Creek. At 125 metres (410 ft), the NBD is the tallest building in Deira (old Dubai), and was the fifth-tallest building in Dubai when built in 1998. Now it was not even in the top 125. The form of the building was inspired by the curved shape of the hulls of the traditional dhows that docked in the Dubai Creek — a concept that also inspired the shape of the Burj Al Arab.
One of the challenges of the Burj Khalifa was that the building had to withstand extreme heat, reaching more than 50 degree Celsius in summers. Accounting for that, an exterior cladding made of reflective glazing with aluminium and textured stainless steel panels were made. 300 cladding specialists were roped into individually hand-cut approximately 26,000 glass panels.
At over 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, Burj Khalifa holds the following records (as of the date of this post):
- Tallest building in the world
- Tallest free-standing structure in the world
- Highest number of stories in the world
- Highest occupied floor in the world
- Highest outdoor observation deck in the world
- Elevator with the longest travel distance in the world
- Tallest service elevator in the world
It towers over the city and resides in the prestigious Downtown development. Once an old army base, Downtown is now the jewel in Dubai’s crown, a beautiful residential and leisure area housing not only the world’s tallest building, but the world’s largest fountains and mall. Wide marble sidewalks are perfect for strolling, with restaurants, art galleries and children’s play areas. Specially commissioned sculptures line the roads and Downtown is often used as a canvas for modern art displays and community events such as Classic Car Shows and National Day parades.
Sunset at Burj Khalifa
It is so tall that we can observe the sunset at the base of the building, then rush to the upper floors and watch the same sunset again for the second time on the same day. This phenomenon can only happen if the Earth is a sphere. On a higher position, we will observe the sunset later than when we are closer to the ground.
There is a difference of about three minutes between the first sunset and the last sunset. For Islamic ritual purposes, the building is divided into three zones. In Ramadan, people in the highest floors have to break their fast about 2 minutes later than people on the lowest levels.
The Burj is surrounded by the huge Dubai Fountain, about as big as two football pitches. You can sail on the Dubai fountain on traditional abra boats and watch the fountain show up close. Its popular sound and light show was designed by the same company who created the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas. The Dubai Fountain holds the record of world’s largest dancing fountain system.
If you are wondering how the dessert city gets the water to do this fountain show, every year 15 million gallons of water are collected sustainably from the Burj Khalifa air conditioning system. The water is used for irrigation to water the landscaping and plants, for the cooling system and to supply the Dubai Fountain.
The complete building is fitted with LED lights to display almost anything. They have been used for Narendra Modi, Shah Rukh Khan’s Birthday, and at many more events.
It’s hard to take a good picture of the Burj Khalifa, since it’s so massive that it you’ll need a very wide angle lens. And yes, the entry charge to At the Top may be steep, but it’s worth every penny.
Visited Nov 2022
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