Monday, June 9, 2008

Burj Dubai will grow additional floors

Developers of the world’s tallest building project, the Burj Dubai, have decided to add at least one more floor to the tower, which currently stands at 656 metres, pushing its final height further up into the sky but also delaying the project by six months.

“We are going higher, and this is one of the reasons why the project is delayed,” said Fred Durie, the executive director for Emaar Properties.

The company has not said how much taller the Burj, which was to be 160 floors, would become with the expansion. A spire and extra floors housing the building’s communication centre accounted for the expansion, said Mr Durie. The change of plans pushes the project’s expected completion to September of next year. The original deadline was December, but the developer had already extended the deadline once, to next April.

Burj Dubai is the product of a joint venture between the local Arabtec Construction company, South Korea’s Samsung and Belgium’s Besix. Making the tower taller had always been a possibility, said a contractor working on the project, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The building’s final height, on completion, has been kept a closely guarded secret.

Mr Durie said that the extra height would pose greater challenges to construction, because of the wind factor created by making a building that tall. In May, 18 days of work was lost due to strong winds. “The higher you go, the more difficult it becomes to build, as when the wind picks up work has to stop,” said Mr Durie. “Vertical transportation also gets more difficult the higher you go – this is the problem with going taller.”

Mohammed Ali Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar, said the interior of the Burj Dubai was also creating delays. “This is a once in a lifetime job, and we are pushing for quality,” said Mr Alabbar. “It’s going to be the tallest tower in the world, so giving contractors an extra few months to get it right will be worth it.”

Burj Dubai is to be the centrepiece of Downtown Burj Dubai, which will also be home to the world’s largest mall, Dubai Mall. Mr Alabbar said that the mall, a joint venture between Dutco Balfour Beatty and Consolidated Contractors International Company, had been expanded by 30 per cent from its original design. Downtown Burj Dubai would also see the addition of a massive new fountain to be built at a cost of Dh800 million (US$217m), the company announced yesterday. The fountain is to be 275 metres long and will shoot water 150 metres – the equivalent of 50 floors – into the air, in a show which will be set to music and augmented with 6,600 lights and 50 colour projectors.

The fountain is being installed by BK Gulf, the mechanical engineering arm of Dutco Balfour Beatty, next to Burj Dubai and Dubai Mall. Emaar, which set a completion date of next April, has hopes the fountain will attract an additional 10 million visitors each year. Mr Alabbar said the company would not be able to recover the cost of building, but viewed the fountain as increasing the overall value of its brand and of the surrounding development.

“The subject of creating the right environment for people to live in has become critical,” he said. “As a company, we’re interested in building a complete development as opposed to just providing office or residential space. When we do business we want to create a landmark environment.” Much of Downtown Burj Dubai is complete, including a number of residential towers and complexes as well as several hotels. Mr Alabbar said that most of the construction work on the development would be finished by September.

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