By Orlando Crowcroft

The Burj Khalifa has been designated a global icon by the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats, the Chicago-based organisation that sets the guidelines for tall buildings worldwide.

The Dubai tower was given the CTBUH’s new ‘Global Icon’ award at the organisation’s awards ceremony last week, with judges claiming that the classification ‘Best Tall Building’ was not lofty enough for the Burj.

The 828 metre building had already won the award for the Best Tall Building in the Middle East & Africa region on the night, and was eligible for the Council’s Best Tall Building “Overall” award against the three other regional winners.

“There was discussion amongst members of the jury that the existing ‘Best Tall Building of the Year’ award wasn’t really appropriate for the Burj. We are talking about a building here that has changed the landscape of what is possible in architecture – a building that became internationally recognized as an icon long before it was even completed,” explained CTBUH Awards Chair Gordon Gill, of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. “‘Building of the Century’ was thought a more apt title for it.”

“Since the late 1880s, only 16 buildings have claimed the title of ‘World’s Tallest’,” added CTBUH Executive Director and awards jury member Antony Wood, “In one’s lifetime the title may thus only pass hands two or three times, so witnessing the completion of the Burj is something very special. In addition, in the history of the world’s tallest, no building has ever surpassed another by more than 200 or so feet [63 metres], but the Burj has surpassed its predecessor by 1,050 feet [320 meters]. It is almost as tall as placing the Empire State Building on top of Petronas Towers. It is a remarkable achievement for all involved.”

CTBUH Chairman Professor Sang Dae Kim of Korea University added: “Burj Khalifa has redefined a region and a people, created a sense of place for Dubai, advanced the technologies of supertall buildings and established a new benchmark for the integrated practice of architecture and engineering. It is perhaps the greatest architectural and engineering achievement in my lifetime.”