Going up...

As the tallest building in the world the vertical transportation systems will play a major role in the success of its future operation, we explore how visitors will travel up and down the Burj Dubai.


As the tallest building in the world the vertical transportation systems will play a major role in the success of its future operation, we explore how visitors will travel up and down the Burj Dubai.

Vertical transportation is a major feature of the MEP services systems installed within the Burj Dubai. Without escalators and elevators the daily operation of the tower would be totally ineffective, so the choice of products and installation techniques used for the systems were of great importance.

A total of 56 elevators and eight escalators have been installed in the building, with all floors being served by lifts. Included among these are two double-deck lifts that will operate at a speed of 10m/s and run in the world's longest lift shaft to date.


The inclusion of double-deck lifts means that more people can be transported simultaneously.

Otis was awarded the subcontract package for the design, installation, testing and commissioning of the lifts and escalators for the building following a competitive tender to the client via the project manager. The products and systems installed were chosen to cope with the large volumes of people that are expected to use the building daily.

The inclusion of double-deck lifts, for example means that more people can be accommodated and transported simultaneously, while the amount of lettable floor space is maintained. With this system, two lift cars share the same shaft while moving independently throughout the building.

Located in the central core of the Burj Dubai, these double-deck lifts will transport passengers from ground level to levels 123 and 124, where a visitor observation deck and restaurants will be located. These are the highest rising double-deck lifts in the world.

Climbing the Burj

Access to higher floors of the Burj Dubai via the general elevators, as is standard for towers, requires users to transfer between two or more lifts to reach their destination. The speeds for these lifts range from 1.75-7m/s.

A total of 35 conventional gearless traction elevators have been included, plus 20 machine roomless elevators and one rack-and-pinion type. The machine roomless versions again provide benefits in terms of space saving. In addition, many of the machine roomless lifts that have been used in the lower floors and office areas of the building are the Otis-patented GEN2 products, which have been designed with green technology to minimise power consumption and lubrication.

Each lift operates between and serves different levels of the building. The Armani Hotel lifts, for example, run to level 39, while a number of the residence lifts will pass the first 39 floors then allow passengers to alight at residential floors 40 to 70; other residence lifts will travel past the first 70 floors and deliver passengers to higher levels.

All of the lifts are electronically controlled with regenerative drives to save on power usage. None of those used in the building are standard off-the-shelf products, although some of those serving the lower floors required less special modifications.

The systems for the main lifts in the central core had to be nearly designed from scratch and all include special design features in their operating systems.

Fire safety considerations

There are several firefighters' elevators included within the building. Special features within these include lifeboat operational readiness, together with searchlights and cameras that are mounted atop the cabs to enable firemen to survey the shaft integrity prior to the evacuation of building occupants.

The main service lift in the central core will act as the main firefighters' and rescue lift. This has a heavy-duty capacity of 4,500kg and will travel a total of 136 floors at 9m/s. Rescue lifts will have the capacity to operate initially in a ‘lifeboat' operating mode, with remote control and video inspection of shafts incase of damage, prior to being used for evacuation.

Installation issues

Otis signed the contract for the subcontract package in March 2005 and began installation around November 2005. The completion of phase one, which incorporates the hotel lifts, is scheduled for completion in April 2008.

The remainder of the contract is due to be finished in December 2008, with final refurbishment and commissioning of the lifts that have been used in construction scheduled for 2009.

Installation of the lifts began when the central core reached 30 levels and is being carried out by using false cars, with no scaffolding needed. These were specially designed and built for the project especially for use in the central core.

Installation is proceeding in two shifts (day and night) and at different levels of the same shaft for the high-rise lifts. For example, currently the shaft of the main service lift is divided into four sections with very heavy-duty overhead protections, with a team on its own false car working in every section.

Six of the final lifts are currently being used during the construction process to transport both manpower and materials, reducing pressure on the hoists. By the end of April 2008, some of the higher rising lifts in the central core are expected to be handed over to the main contractor for use, with a total of 21 elevators eventually due to be used during the construction phase.


Double-deck design

The increasing high-rise construction worldwide has led lifts manufacturers to develop a double-deck or twin elevator design.

With this, instead of the conventional one lift car per shaft design, two passenger cars are contained within the same shaft, using the same guide rails.

Separate traction drives enable the two cars to travel to different floors simultaneously using the same set of guide rails.

The passenger destination and direction of travel for the elevators is recorded at the start of all passenger calls and an electronic destination control system assigns the cars to the levels according to efficiency of operation.

The electronic control also ensures that the cars never collide within the lift shaft.

One of the major benefits of such a system is the reduction in service core space that is needed in a building by effectively combining two lift systems into one. Time saving for passengers is also a major advantage.

RELATED LINKS: Supplying skywards services, Servicing the Burj, Cool runnings, Tower power, Pipe plans, Fire safety at height, Making initial preparations

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