The tallest building of the year is also the tallest building in the world. Soaring an impressive 828 meters into the sky (that’s 2,717 feet for Americans), the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest man-made structure built to date.

Burj Khalifa night
Burj Khalifa night

Located on Sheikh Zayed Road and part of the Downtown Dubai, the structure was designed by Adrian Smith of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, who designed the Nanjing Greenland Financial Center in China.

The highly awarded project is an engineering marvel. According to SOM, “Its massing is manipulated in the vertical dimension to minimize the impact of wind on the tower’s movement.” At 160 stories, the building holds several top honors including tallest free-standing structure in the world, highest number of stories, highest occupied floor, highest outdoor observation deck, elevator with the longest travel distance and tallest service elevator. The design is inspired by both nature and Islamic architecture. While its Y-shaped pattern is ideal for improved views of the Persian Gulf and urban area, the footprint was inspired by the Hymenocallis flower. The structure relies on a buttressed core to reinforce the shape and prevent it from moving and twisting.

Burj Khalifa features residential and office spaces, the Armani Hotel and a spectacular observation deck from which you can see the world, quite literally since you’re in the tallest building in the world. The structure also features 11 hectares of landscaping with six major water features including separate entry fountains for the main lobby, hotel and residences; a grand water terrace, a children’s fountain pool and a sculptural fountain.

One may ask: What about the water? The gardens are partially irrigated with water collected through the condensate collection system that takes in water from the humid air outside as well as the air conditioning. The system collects over 15 million gallons of supplemental water each year, which is stored in the basement car park.

The global economic crisis almost put the brakes on the project until Abu Dhabi supplied the money needed to complete the project. What was formerly known at Burj Dubai was renamed Burj Khalifa to honor this exchange. “Burj Khalifa goes beyond its imposing physical specifications,” said Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, in a statement. “ In Burj Khalifa, we see the triumph of Dubai’s vision of attaining the seemingly impossible and setting new benchmarks. It is a source of inspiration for every one of us in Emaar.

The project is a declaration of the emerate’s capabilities and of the resolve of its leaders and people to work hand in hand on truly awe-inspiring projects.”

Name: Burj Khalifa: Dubai, UAE
Height: 828m (2717 ft)
Developer: Emaar Properties
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill