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'Tall buildings integral to city brand and value'

Dean McGrail, WSP | PB ME's director of property and buildings, says iconic skyscrapers, such as Dubai's Burj Khalifa, are integral to a city's branding and investability

Burj Khalifa is integral to Dubai's identity and investability.
Burj Khalifa is integral to Dubai's identity and investability.

The boom in regional skyscraper construction is integral to the generation of value and brand identities for cities, an expert said.

Dean McGrail, director of property and building at WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff Middle East (WSP | PB ME), said the concept of city development has transformed from meeting population demand to a preference for urbanisation now. 

McGrail also represents Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in Dubai.

"The world is a much faster place with the digital age meaning we all have, and expect, access to information and services 24/7," he said. 

"As a result a modern city needs to find a way to accommodate this growth within spaces which are becoming more constrained.

"It’s this demand vs space challenge that is the reason we are building higher and higher buildings."

McGrail cited The Shard in London as an example of tall buildings generating brand value for their city. 

" [The Shard is] a vertical city with restaurants, offices, apartments, and a hotel. It created footfall in the area and restarted the local economy.

"Can you imagine Dubai without the Burj Khalifa?" McGrail added, stressing the role played by Burj Khalifa in increasing Dubai's popularity as host to the world's tallest building.  

"Nowadays skyscrapers are becoming landmarks in themselves, helping a city to stand out on the global stage but also shaping the city itself and giving it an identity."

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Construction Week - Issue 764
May 31, 2020