issue 10 | The Big Project

Geometrics of the desert flower

By Sona Nambiar

When did you take the decision to build the tallest building in the world?
When first conceptualized in 2003, Burj Dubai was to be a 90-storey building. It was the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who inspired us to 'resist the usual' and build a global icon.

How did you select the design firm?
Some of the best global design firms participated in the international design competition held by Emaar Properties. We selected the designs propsed by Chicago-based Skidmore, Owing & Merril (SOM) and Adrian Smith. Adrian's work met our design and business requirements. Derived from the geometrics of the desert flower, the Burj Dubai design incorporates the patterning and geometric systems of the regions architecture and cultural influences with the lates technology.

What were the processes to make this vision a reality?
Burj Dubai is not just an architectural and engineering masterpiece in concrete, steel and glass. The design and construction of the Burj Dubai is history in the making - a building of this magnitude has never been attempted before. We partnered with the best-in-class companies such as construction major Samsung corporation and project managers Turner Construction to realize the design. Today, more than 5,000 consultants and skilled construction workers are working to schedule to complete the project by 2008. The design and construction techniques and methods use to create the tower are all engineering firsts. The design process has been continuing around the globe and around the clock for the past few years to keep up with the fast track nature of the project. During the process, we have challenged conentionla thinking to be able to build an icon that people across the workdl can be proud of. It is a human achievement without equal.

What is Emaar's vision for the future with its expansion into so many international markets?
Emaar's international expansion and business sementation is guided by our Vision 2010 to become one of the most valuable companies in the world. The direction of growth has already been endorsed with Emaar debuting on the Financial Times Global 500 ranking.

In the midst of the many hats that you wear, how do you keep the Burj Dubai icon status high on the iconic buildings international list?In light of the recent announcements, that Dubai will see a taller building.
We realize that Burj Dubai will serve as an inspiration to others throughout the region and if we have done so, that is itself an achievement. When Burj Dubai is completed it will be the tallest for some time to come. It's not about building the tallest tower that excites us; it is about building an icon that defines Dubai's arrival as a truly international city that makes us proud.