JLT fronts up against JBR with 78 towers to be built by 2008

With Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) on one side and Jumeirah Beach Residence on the other, the level of construction work underway between Interchanges Five and Six on Sheikh Zayed Road is unrivalled. Zoe Naylor braves the bulldozers and goes on-site at JLT to look at Dubai’s first freehold office tower.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  December 3, 2005

|~|98proj200.gif|~|Saba Tower 1: The first freehold office block under construction in Dubai, is currently the tallest building on the Jumeirah Lake Towers plot. A total of 78 high-rise towers on the development are due to be completed by 2008.|~|One of the most striking aspects of Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) is the sheer scale of construction activity. Located between Interchanges Five and Six on the Sheikh Zayed Road, Nakheel’s JLT will eventually be home to 78 high-rise towers spread over 26 plots of land. Construction work is now underway on almost 80% of these plots, which has created significant site access challenges. So when Arabian Construction Company (ACC) was awarded the construction of Saba Tower 1, along with Saba 2 and 3 twin-towers at JLT, careful planning and scheduling was needed. The US $46.2 million (AED170 million) Saba Tower 1 is the first freehold office project in Dubai and is currently the tallest structure in JLT. The design is for three basement floors, plus ground, plus 36 storeys — construction has now reached floor number 30 out of the final 40. The project is due for completion in March 2006 when it will be handed over to the client, Saba Real Estate. Saba 2 and 3 are residential towers and are scheduled for completion in September 2006. They will also be 40 storeys-high incorporating four basements, a ground floor plus 35 storeys. Construction has reached floor number 12 on the core, and slab number three. The height of all three towers will be 150 m, and the consultant and engineer on the project is RMJM. All the 78 towers in JLT need to be ready by 2008. According to Mahir Al Chalabi, project manager at ACC, one of the main challenges faced so far is the tight duration of the project: “We’re completing three 40-storey buildings in 18 months, when normally this type of tower project would take [approximately] 22 months.” Hassan Auji, general manager at ACC agrees: “It’s a tight schedule but we’re used to working under this kind of pressure. To get around it we’ve had to increase the working hours.” The summer daytime working ban during July and August was an issue for the project: “The ban affected us a lot because we lost four hours a day during the lunchtime and this needed to be recovered,” said Auji. “While we observed the regulations fully, at the end of the day we still have a schedule to deliver so we had to adjust the programme to accommodate this stoppage.” Another challenge is coordinating the construction work with the infrastructure work that is also taking place: “It can be difficult and requires coordination of the materials delivery,” he adds. According to Auji, having a thorough procurement schedule for the project is helping them to meet targets: “The procurement scheduling for materials began the day we signed the contract — from reinforcement and readymix concrete right through to waterproofing and formwork. “Dealing with sub-contractors for procurement within the local market can be problematic because they’re so busy, especially when it comes to timber and cladding,” says Auji. “When you send out the tenders, half of them will decline. And if you do get a price, you wait in the queue.” Another crucial factor is taking into account the lead times for internationally-sourced materials. For example, the marble used on Saba 1 was imported from Canada and Brazil, but was then sent to China for cutting and polishing before being delivered to the construction site in Dubai. Scheduling is crucial to ensure the approval, availability and delivery of materials to JLT is all done on time. All this involves careful planning and coordinating with Nakheel, the authorities and the project management to ensure the process runs smoothly. “A lot of details need to move in parallel,” says Auji, “which is not easy because the site is so congested with other contractors, developers and infrastructure [development]. But as long as we have an access, there’s no problem.” The level of activity at JLT is certainly keeping the ACC team on their toes: “At one point on Saba 1 we had to move our site offices to inside the building to make way for a road that was being built straight through the site,” says Auji. Climbing formwork from Doka is being used to accelerate the floor cycle on all three towers, which is currently standing at five days. “Now we’ve reached a certain height on Saba 1 we have been forced to upgrade our plant equipment and to change the craneage,” says Al Chalabi. Potain cranes with a placing boom are now being used to deliver the concrete. Subsequent upgrades to Saba 1 meant ACC had to alter some of the methodology of construction: “The client wanted to increase the clearance height throughout the building from 2.5 m to 2.7 m — we had to change the methodology of construction from cast in-situ to post-tensioning to accommodate this change,” explains Auji. “It took some time to get approved by JAFZA (Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority), but we did it. “Usually when we undertake a job the client asks us to do value engineering to reduce the price,” he continues. “But this client is making upgrades to improve the end-product such as changing the marble in the lobby in Saba 1 from 1 m high to the entire wall, which will double the price of the finish.” According to Behrouz Javaheri, chairman, Saba Real Estate, quality is the watchword for all three Saba towers: “There’s a lot of talk in this town about some of the construction here using shoddy materials, so we’re creating something of exceptional quality. “We’re using materials that you will hardly ever find in this market; most of the materials are manufactured in Europe and most are custom-made,” he adds. From the doors (which are all custom-made in Germany), to the lighting fixtures, gypsums, marbles and Villeroy & Boch sanitary ware, Javaheri says the finishes on Saba 1 in particular will be of the highest standard: “Saba Tower 1 will be the first tower delivery in Jumeirah Lakes in 2006 so we’re using the opportunity to establish our name for the future,” he says. As the three Saba towers edge towards their completion dates, the frenetic pace of activity on site shows no sign of letting up. “There are currently [approximately] 700 ACC employees working on the three tower projects; 1500 [including] the sub-contractors,” says Auji. And their work at JLT doesn’t stop there: ACC is also working on the 72-storey Al Mas tower (the Diamond tower) in a joint venture with Taisei. The 26-month job is currently at the foundation stage. Once complete, the 365 m-high tower will become the tallest building in JLT.||**||

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