The United Arab Emirates owns the distinction of having the tallest building internationally. Measuring a staggering 2,717 feet (828 meters), the Burj Khalifa, formerly known as Burj Dubai, is the highest man-made structure in history. It can be found along Sheikh Zayed Road generally business district in Dubai.
This marks the second time the Middle East has claimed the honor of having the tallest artificial structure in the world. The Great Pyramid of Giza once held that distinction for many hundreds of years until England built the Lincoln Cathedral in 1311.
Named in honor of one or more of the project’s top supporters and the actual president of the United Arab Emirates and king of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa bin Sayed Al Nahyan, the Burj Khalifa gained the attention and recognition of the rest of the world. It was constructed with the primary goal of diverting the country’s image from a debt-ridden oil-producing country into a tourist mecca generating necessary income and investments. Conceptualization and construction began in 2004 and the building was launched on January 4, 2010, during the rise to the throne of Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashin Al Maktoum.
The Burj Khalifa was designed by architect Adrian Smith and engineer Bill Baker who were with Chicago’s Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) right at that moment. Among the other groups involved in the actual construction were South Korea’s Samsung Engineering and Construction (primary contractor) and Besix and Arabtec. Emaar Properties served as the project’s developer. The $1.5 billion tower was inspired by Islamic traditions and culture and featured patterns prevalent in Islamic architecture. The three-lobed base of the building was patterned after the flower Hymenocalli.
Among the lavish features of the Burj Khalifa are the 57 double-deck elevators with modern LCD displays for the visitors’ entertainment. There are also eight escalators and a total of 2,909 stairs. The 124th floor showcases the highest open-air observation deck internationally, the At the Top. It was opened to the public on the 5th of January, the day after Burj Khalifa’s inauguration and also houses the Behold Telescope.
Apart from being the tallest building ever, the Burj Khalifa holds a number of other records. Among them are:
• The most number of floors (160) – beating the former record holder Willis Tower by 52 floors
• The highest occupied floor (160th floor)
• The highest pool – situated on the 76th floor
• The highest nightclub – located at the 144th floor
• World’s highest mosque – discovered on the 158th floor
• The highest outdoor observation deck at 1483 feet – aptly named At the Top and situated on the 124th floor; it is the second highest observation deck on record
• The highest restaurant – At.mosphere that is on the 122nd floor and at a height of 1450 feet, a distant 302 feet over CN Towers’ 360 restaurant
• The world’s fastest elevator which goes at a speed of 64 kilometers per hour
• The highest elevator installation
• The tallest man-made structure that has residential features, and
• The world’s highest New Year’s Eve celebration and firework display