Contractors to think again as Burj Dubai gains floors

Design revision said to involve reduction of the spire to accommodate more useable floor space

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By  Colin Foreman Published  September 18, 2004

Contractors tendering for the Burj Dubai construction contract have confirmed that they have been asked to re-tender for what will be the world’s tallest tower. This action is said to have been taken because of a design revision. Construction Week was told that the design revision involves a reduction of the spire structure on the top of the tower so that more floors of useable space can be accommodated. The official reason for the change is still unclear, but it purports to increase the total leaseable area in the tower and so will improve Emaar’s return on investment, one of the contractors said. He was speaking on condition of anonymity. Past experience in cities around the world has shown that high-rise construction is notoriously expensive and many question the financial viability of building super tall buildings, especially when there is an abundance of flat land to build on, as is the case in Dubai. However, Emaar Properties, the developer, believes that it will not only be financially viable, but also represents a major engineering feat to build to a height not yet attempted by mankind. It believes that the tower, complemented by surrounding structures, will make an attractive proposition for not only the developer and residents, but also bring tourism inflow to Dubai and the country. “With the Burj Dubai, we are creating a new architectural benchmark for global property developers and contributing towards the growth of Dubai as a leading tourist destination,” says Mohamed Ali Alabbar, Emaar chairman in the company’s 2004 yearbook. Emaar claims that Burj Dubai will not only be the tallest tower in the world, but “so much more.” It will combine residential and commercial units, hotel, entertainment and leisure outlets with open green spaces, water features, pedestrian boulevards, an ‘old town’ and one of the world’s largest shopping malls, which Emaar claims, will make the complex a successful project. In June, Construction Week reported that the original drawings that went out as part of the tender documents showed that the tower would be 704.9 m, making it the world’s tallest by a considerable margin. Since then rumours have suggested that the tower may well end up even taller, with some citing 810 m as the final height. Emaar has been understandably tight-lipped about the height of the proposed tower. Although the new design change is significant, it is not yet certain whether it will affect the building’s final height. It is more likely that the revision will delay the award of the main contract. Contractors were hoping that an announcement would be made by the end of this month. The industry believes that that construction of the tower could still be on schedule. It was launched in February 2003 and is expected to be finished in 2007.

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