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How the Burj was built

by CW Staff on Jan 16, 2010

Fire safety
Fire safety and speed of evacuation were prime factors in the design of Burj Khalifa. Concrete surrounds all stairwells and the building service and fireman's elevator will have a capacity of 5500kg and will be the world's tallest service elevator.

Since people can't reasonably be expected to walk down 160 floors, there are pressurised, air-conditioned refuge areas located approximately every 25 floors.

The mechanical, electrical and plumbing services for Burj Khalifa were developed in co-ordination during the design phase with the co-operation of the architect, structural engineer and other consultants.

Hyder Consulting was appointed as a supervision consultant with responsibility for overseeing execution of the MEP. An ETA-Hitachi-Voltas joint venture was awarded the building’s MEP contract.

Seven double-storey mechanical floors house the equipment that bring Burj Khalifa to life. Distributed around every 30 storeys, the mechanical floors house the electrical sub-stations, water tanks, pumps and air handling units that are essential for the running of the building.

These mechanical areas typically serve the 15 floors above and below them. The primary distribution route for services is through the main risers within the central core of the structure, which remains the same size to level 150 despite the overall building shape tapering with height.

MEP operations are managed by a central BMS, with local control panels in each plant room, all connected by fibre-optic cabling. During construction, deliveries of MEP equipment tended to be made during the night, with the podium and basement used as storage space. Cranes, hoists and service lifts were used to transport the various materials.

The Burj Khalifa's water system supplies an average of 946,000 litres (250,000 gallons) of water daily. At peak cooling, Burj Khalifa will require about 10,000 tonnes of cooling, equal to the cooling capacity provided by about 10,000 tonnes of melting ice.

Dubai's hot, humid climate combined with the building's cooling requirements creates a significant amount of condensation. This water is collected and drained in a separate piping system to a holding tank in the basement car park.

The condensate collection system provides about 15 million gallons of supplement water per year, equal to about 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This water is to be redirected to the gardens surrounding the tower.

The tower's peak electrical demand will be an estimated 36mW, equal to about 360,000 100 Watt bulbs operating simultaneously. According to one report, the tower has more than one hundred thousand light fittings, 375km of fire alarm cabling and 34km of chilled water pipes.

Elevators & lifts
Burj Khalifa will be home to 57 elevators and eight escalators. The building service/fireman's elevator will have a capacity of 5500kg and will be the world's tallest service elevator.

The Burj Khalifa features distinct sections: residential apartments, serviced apartments and hotel rooms, and corporate offices. Elevators have been arranged in zones to serve these different audiences, with what is known as a ‘sky lobby’ system.

The sky lobby is an intermediate floor where residents, guests and executives will change from an express elevator to a local elevator, which stops at every floor within a certain segment of the building. Burj Khalifa’s sky lobbies are located on level 43, 76 and 123 and will include a lounge area and kiosk, amongst other amenities.

All elevators have been supplied and installed by Otis. No elevators are installed to travel all 160 floors of Burj Khalifa. Instead, they are grouped to align with the floor layout, offering passengers a direct express service to their destination by bypassing other floors.

The main service elevator, positioned in the central core of Burj Khalifa, has the world’s highest elevator rise at 504 metres – more than the height of Taipei 101 in Taiwan (448 metres). It travels at nine metres per second and also has the world’s longest travelling distance for an elevator. Another service lift in the spire has the world’s highest landing point at 636.9 metres.

Double-deck elevators, with built-in light and entertainment features including LCD displays, will exclusively serve visitors to At The Top, Burj Khalifa, the world’s highest outdoor observation deck situated on level 124, as well as office users transferring at the sky lobby at level 123.

These double-deck units – used for the first time in the Middle East by Otis – are the highest rising double-deck elevators in the world and will travel at the speed of 10 metres per second. They have a capacity of 12 to 14 people per cab.

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