Site visit: ICD Brookfield Place, Downtown Dubai

Construction Week reviews how the world’s largest luffing jib tower crane is benefitting the team building Dubai’s ICD Brookfield Place, which is due to complete in 2019

The 55-storey ICDBP is due for completion in the second quarter of 2019.
The 55-storey ICDBP is due for completion in the second quarter of 2019.

As the home of the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest indoor theme park, and the world’s largest shopping mall, Dubai is no stranger to superlative engineering achievements.

Now, a construction team in the city has added another entry to this list – the $408.4m (AED1.5bn) ICD Brookfield Place’s (ICDBP) project site is currently home to the world’s largest luffing jib tower crane – the Favelle Favco M2480D.

A partnership between Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) and Brookfield Property Partners (BPY) is leading the project’s development. Designed by Foster + Partners, ICDBP features 9ha of Grade-A commercial space. The 55-storey building offers column-free units, with floorplates ranging from 1,579m2 to 2,787m2.

Multiplex and Ssangyong (MSS) are working in a joint venture (JV) as the project’s main contractors. Project management and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineering services are being delivered by Aecom, while BSBG is on-board as the project’s delivery architect.

The Favelle Favco M2480D luffing jib tower crane is being used on the project for its lifting capabilities, Scott Cunningham, operations manager for Multiplex Technologies Plant and Equipment, tells Construction Week. At 330 tonnes (t) maximum lifting capacity, the luffing crane is the world’s heaviest in terms of capacity.

“For this project, the crane has been configured to 110t capacity on a single line, with a 55m boom radius and 76m free-stand height,” he adds.

The specialised piece of equipment is at ICDBP’s site for a six-month period, and was shipped from Australia specifically for use on this project. The crane was supplied by Marr Contracting, a specialist Australian heavy lifting contractor, Andrew Lipshut, technical manager at Multiplex Middle East, tells Construction Week.

A luffing jib crane as large as the Favco M2480D has never been used in the UAE before, and Lipshut says numerous design approvals were needed to bring the crane to its current home, adding: “A crane of this size, [combined] with the reactions of the base, needed a lot of engineering work to make sure that it was capable of withstanding the forces, [and] it entailed a lot of technical work to get it where it is.”

It took the contracting team two weeks to erect the crane, during which some road diversions and closures were implemented to get the equipment on site. Cunningham says the contractors’ in-house operators are fully capable of working with the crane, and are helped by the “very good training regimes” that are implemented for crane operators in the region.

“We knew this crane was coming a long time ago, so we made sure we’d be ready for it,” he adds.

This readiness is the result of extensive planning and crane selection exercises carried out by the contractor team, and Lipshut says numerous iterations of crane models and sizes were considered when project planning began.

“The largest lifts needed are around 80t to 85t, so the original scheme we had featured a smaller crane in four locations, which would be shifted around the site,” Lipshut continues.

“However, getting the crane set up and shifting it to different locations takes time as well. Instead, the current scheme involves the larger [Favco M2480D] crane being set up in only two locations.”

Favco M2480D’s “purpose on the project”, Lipshut explains, is to help establish four A-frame transfer structures  – made of steel – that sit between the building’s ground and fifth levels, on all sides of the building, with the A-shaped component being 35m high. The entire 55-storey tower lands on the A-frame, transfering out to eight mega-columns, down to a 4m-thick raft below.

Lipshut explains the engineering of this structure, and how the Favco M2480D has helped the operation: “The five steel nodes of the A-frame each weigh up to 85t, and are very complicated steel elements being designed, fabricated, and erected by Eversendai.

“We originally looked at having those brought over in smaller pieces and then welding them on site.”

The quality considerations of welding these pieces on site were factored into the crane selection process. The Favco M2480D helps lift each part of the A-Frame as a single piece, which means detailed welding work can be carried out in the factory, thus improving the quality of work, offering weld quality assurance, and allowing time savings, Lipshut explains.

He adds: “Originally, we were going to split the node in [separate] pieces, bring these [in] with a small crane, and weld them together, but with the Favco M2480D, we have been able to work [using] single pieces, which is very beneficial.”

Louis Linde, executive director for projects at Multiplex Middle East, tells Construction Week that for the project team, the crane is delivering advantages of not only time, safety, and cost, but commercial management as well: “[The crane] has de-risked the project a lot. For example, implementing an element [such as the nodes] piece-by-piece would involve a lot of temporary works. The manufacturing of these nodes could have taken weeks or months […] if we had to do that on site, so the time benefit is [significant].”

Safety is also a critical factor for the project team, and Linde says that the crane – like all other elements of the construction programme – was tested and studied in detail ahead of its finalisation and implementation: “Everything we do on site first goes through a rigid process of planning; our safety programme is world-class, and we’re running a rigid protocol of method statements and risk assessments.

“Even before we do any on-site work, we have a temporary works division that studies the designs of all the various elements [of the project]. Meanwhile, on bigger elements, we actually don’t proceed to the next step unless the previous step [has been] signed off. All this ties in with the levels of safety and quality on the project. We have a strict regime before we do anything on site to make sure everyone is safe.”

Credit for the success of both the project scheme and the world’s largest crane on its site is due to its development team. In addition to the core team comprising ICD – the investment arm of the Government of Dubai – BPY, MSS, BSBG, and Aecom, partners such as Robert Bird Group, Priedemann, Coffey, and AESG are respectively on-board as structural engineer, façade consultant, geotech engineer, and LEED consultant.

Speirs + Major is ICDBP’s specialist lighting provider, while The Vertical Transport Studio is providing vertical transport services for the project. Acoustic Logic has been appointed the development’s acoustic consultant, and Design Confidence has been contracted to provide fire and life safety services.

In addition to commercial spaces, ICDBP features 1.3ha of retail areas, including a food hall, private club, restaurants, and a health and fitness club. Three sky suites, with a floor-to-ceiling (FTC) height of 6.3m, will be developed on levels 51, 52, and 53 of the project – each fitted with dedicated indoor garden terraces. Up to 46 lifts will be installed in the building, of which 30 will be passenger units to serve the office tower.

The development, which is pre-certified with LEED Gold credentials, also includes seven below-grade levels to house 2,700 cars. Loading docks – to be built within the office and retail spaces – will be connected to the Dubai International Financial Centre truck tunnel, with the project’s ground and first levels directly linked to the Dubai International Centre’s Gate Avenue.

While a short-term guest at ICDBP’s site, the world’s largest luffing jib tower crane will go on to have a long-term impact in the UAE’s contracting community, according to the project team. Linde says that while crane selection is a project-specific activity, he has noted a rise in the use of luffing jib models across the Middle East. He adds that while “it is better to use the hammerhead because you can reach more [site space],” construction sites with limited area are best worked on with a luffing jib crane.

Additionally, Cunningham points out that in cities with high rates of construction activity – such as Dubai – these cranes are likelier to be the eventual choice for a project: “Luffing jibs definitely give a lot more flexibility on congested sites.”

The construction team of ICDBP looks set to make significant progress next year, as the project nears its completion deadline of Q1 2019. Moreover, the team’s deployment of the Favco M2480D on one of Dubai’s landmark construction sites may even encourage other contractors in the Gulf to emulate the ICDBP team’s efforts, and for the regional contracting sector, this can only be a good thing.

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