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The Tallest Building in the World

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The Tallest Building in the World

In the 1939 movie Love Affair, which was remade in 1957 as An Affair to Remember, the two protagonists (played by Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne in the former, and Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in the latter) promised to try to end their current relationships with other people, then meet up again after half a year at the top of the tallest building in the world, the Empire State Building in New York City.

The movie was again constantly referred to in 1993 by Sleepless in Seattle, and remade once more in 1994 as Love Affair. Once again, the two main characters (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in the first, and Warren Beatty and Annette Bening in the second) went to see each other at the top of the Empire State Building.  Curiously though, neither referred to it as the tallest building in the world. That is because it ceased to be the tallest building in the world in 1967, when the Ostankino Tower in Moscow in Russia grabbed the title. And this lasted only until 1975.

Had the two main characters in Sleepless in Seattle and Love Affair agreed to meet at the top of the tallest building in the world, they would have crossed the border to get to CN Tower in Toronto, as it had that title in 1993 and 1994. But what if the movie makes a remake these days? What is the current tallest building in the world?

Back to the Middle East

While the Ostankino Tower in Moscow remains the tallest building in Europe and the CN Tower maintains its status as the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, the title of the tallest building in the world now belongs to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Located in the Middle East, Burj Khalifa has allowed the region to reclaim the title that the Great Pyramid of Giza used to hold for almost four millennia, surrendering the crown only in 1311 when the Lincoln Cathedral in England was constructed.

Originally known as the Burj Dubai, the building was designed to be the centerpiece of a massive and mixed-used development that would include 30,000 homes spread over 19 residential towers, 9 hotels, a giant mall, 3 hectares of park space and 12 hectares of artificial lake. It aimed to help diversify the economy from one that is dependent on oil to one that is based on service and tourism.

Standing at 829.8 meters, construction work began in 21 September 2004. The building was designed and engineered by the Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, while the primary contractor of the construction was the South Korean firm Samsung C&T.  The exterior was finally completed in October of 2009, and the building officially opened its doors on 4 January 2010. It is the centerpiece of the two square kilometer development called Downtown Dubai near the main business district.

The global financial crisis that started in 2007, however, put a dent into Dubai’s plans. They sought a multi-billion dollar bailout from their sister states. Abu Dhabi came to its rescue and poured massive amounts of money into Dubai. As a result, Burj Dubai was renamed as Burj Khalifa, in honor of the President of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan.

Office and Residential Pricing at the Tallest Building in the World

The total cost of the Burj Khalifa project reached around $1.5 billion. To help recoup this investment, the office and residential spaces were sold at a premium. Office space pricing was pegged at over $43 thousand per square meter. Home space, which was designed by none other than the Armani group and called the Armani Residences, was priced at over $37.5 thousand, which was also a reflection of the prestige of the address.

Initial demand proved to be tepid, however, because of the financial crisis. The market has since recovered a bit, and as of October 2012, around 80 percent of the apartments were already occupied.

Features of Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa Park

The park was designed based on the Hymenocallis, a flower endemic to the desert. The 11-hectare park surrounds the building and was landscaped by the SWA Group. It has six water features designed by the WET Designers, walkways lined with palm trees, gardens and several flowering trees. At the center of the park, which is also the base of the building, is several water jet fountains and a series of pools. All railings and benches bear images of the building and the flower.

In addition, green concepts were incorporated into the building through a condensation collection system. it involves recycling water taken from the building’s cooling system, and using it for the plants and shrubs around the area. Over 68 million liters are recycled annually because of this.

The Dubai Fountain

Burj Khailfa made use of the same company that designed the iconic fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Costing around $217 million, the Dubai Fountain is 275 meters long and shoots water up to 150 meters into the air, while being accompanied by classical, Arabic or world music. It also features 6,600 lights and 50 colored projectors.

At the Top

Burj Khalifa also features an observation deck called At the Top, located at the 124th level. At the Top opened the day after the building officially opened its doors, and features the Behold Telescope. The Behold Telescope was developed by the Montreal-based company called gsmprjct, and is known as an augmented reality device. It allows not only the real time viewing of the surrounding landscapes, but also the scrutiny of images that had been previously taken at different types of the day under varying weather conditions.

The observation deck is the third highest in the world after the Canton Tower and the Shanghai World Financial Center, both located in China. The deck’s height is at 452.1 meters. Among outdoor decks, it stands as the second highest after the Canton Tower, which stands at 488 meters.

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