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Burj Khalifa

When Emaar Properties acquired a site of abandoned military barracks to develop the 500-acre mega-project that is now Downtown Dubai, the vision was to “create one of the world’s leading urban destinations”, according to Robert Booth, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Dubai Real Estate, at the time. The new building, as imagined by Mohamed Alabbar, the Founder and Chairman of Emaar Properties, would overtake the 449-metre record that was held by Taipei 101 in Taiwan.


Create one of the world’s leading urban destinations

Robert Booth, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Dubai Real Estate, at the time


When planning began in 2002, it was already clear that many innovations would be needed in the design, construction and building technologies. The innovation imperative became even more important when the initially planned height was increased from 550 metres to 750 metres and later to its final height of 828 metres.

Three major themes characterized this flagship project: first, a highly experienced international team, allowing effective knowledge transfer, diligent front-loaded planning and optimized logistics; second, close and proactive collaboration with innovative suppliers; and third, early engagement with government and other major stakeholders.

The team was carefully selected to assemble best-in class expertise and experience in super-high-rise construction. Chicago-based design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill completed the innovative building design. The construction-management team from Turner International was brought onboard in 2003, very early in the planning process due to their experience in constructing Taipei 101. The Turner team then managed the selection and contracts of all consultants and suppliers including very detailed specifications and performance incentives based on its rich experience.

Collaboration was another key ingredient for success as suppliers were involved very early on to implement state-of-the-art innovations in concrete design and pumping, jump formwork or elevator technology. Many consider the concrete technology the most innovative feature of the project requiring fluidity and strengths to be pumpable to over 600 metres (one of the building’s many records) at extreme temperatures of more than 40°C.

Close and early engagement with the government authorities, utility companies and other key stakeholders was the third key theme to convert the vision into reality.

The rest is history: world’s tallest building and tallest man-made structure, a magnet for tourists and an iconic landmark of Downtown Dubai.

Download the case study to read the full story of this impressive building and to learn how the team overcame barriers and implemented innovations on many different levels.