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Building the Tallest Hotel : Burj Al Arab, Dubai

written by: Raunekk•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 11/28/2009

Burj Al Arab is an iconic hotel located on an artificial island near the Jumeirah beach in Dubai. A fabulous civil engineering wonder, Burj Al Arab is to Dubai what the Opera House is to Sydney. Find out more about this most luxurious hotel in the article inside.

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    Introduction

    Burj Al Arab, one of the world’s tallest buildings, is an iconic structure and also the world’s most luxurious hotel. Known as the “Towers of Arabia" in Arabic, this magnificent building has received great recognition from around the world, mainly because of its peculiar design that resembles the shape of a boat’s sail.

    Built on a man-made island, Burj Al Arab construction began in 1993 and was completed in 1999. The 321 meters high building was designed by architect Tom Wright, formerly known as Tom Wills Wright.

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    Construction

    The most spectacular trait of Burj Al Arab is that it resembles a modern yacht’s sail. With two hundred and two rooms in total, the marvelous building is located about 280 meters off the Dubai Coast on a man-made island having excellent landscaping.

    For constructing the artificial island, 230 concrete piles, each of 40 meters length, were drilled into the sea bed. The piles acted as the first step for creating the island. The surface of the island was then made using large rocks that were put together in a specific concrete construction pattern.

    To make the platform or the island on which the building would be constructed, temporary tube files and sheet files were drilled into the sea bed to support a number of boundary rocks, which were deposited later on both the sides of sheet piles. Once this was done, sea water was displaced to fill the inside space with concrete slabs and units. Around the structure, huge concrete structures were placed to protect the island and the base of the coffer dam like structure was filled with a concrete plug slab. Lastly, concrete walls were made and the main basement floor of the building was done. The construction of the island took the longest, almost three years out of the total five years taken for the construction process.

    The distinguished 3D shape of the building has been constructed with a special geometry design to support the sail like design and also to protect the building from varying wind load. The outermost wall of the structure has been made from PTFE coated fiberglass with air gaps at regular intervals. Due to the specific design the double curve membrane is able to withstand the varying wind pressure easily. Moreover, additional cables are also provided on the structure to prevent any kind of material deflection. For the full height of the building, an expansion joint is provided on the right to prevent harmful effects from wind loads and excessive horizontal stresses. The material of the sail like structure is not only robust but also protects the interiors from the high intensity sun’s rays using its special light diffusing quality. Moreover, the building also has self cleaning features that help in resisting the aggressive environment.

    IslandDiagram1 IslandDiagram2 IslandDiagram3 IslandDiagram4 

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    Salient Features

    There are two ways for getting to the hotel – one is using the curved road bridge and the other by a helicopter that lands directly on the helipad at the hotel’s roof top. The top floor also features a sky view bar that provides a 360 view of the Gulf. Covering an area of 1.2 million square feet, Burj Al Arab has twenty eight double height space floors, each having a height of 7 meters.

    The atrium inside the building is the tallest in the world, measuring hundred and eighty two meters high. The two accommodation wings lay on both the sides of the triangular atrium. The third side of the atrium faces the shore. Almost twenty four thousand square meters of thirty different types of marbles were used in the construction of the building. Moreover, the total construction of the building required seventy thousand cubic meters of concrete and ninety thousand tones of steel.

    One of the most luxurious hotels, Burj Al Arab is also the costliest of all. Supposed to be known as the only seven star rated hotel in the world, Burj Al Arab is famous for its grandeur and extravagance. This great civil engineering wonder because of the recognition it has received, has become synonymous with the city of Dubai. Burj Al Arab is to Dubai, what Eiffel Tower is to Paris.

    Spec. Burj Al Arab web lay-out 

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    References and Image credits

    Tom Wright Design

    Kellogg.northwestern