Burj Khalifa, Khalifa Tower known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration, is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is currently the tallest manmade structure in the world, at 829.84 m (2,723 ft).Construction began on 21 September 2004, with the exterior of the structure completed on 1 October 2009. The building officially opened on 4 January 2010,and is part of the new 2 km2 (490-acre) flagship development called Downtown Dubai at the 'First Interchange' along Sheikh Zayed Road, near Dubai's main business district. The tower's architecture and engineering were performed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of Chicago, with Adrian Smith as chief architect, and Bill Baker as chief structural engineer.The primary contractor was Samsung C&T of South Korea.
The total cost for the project was about US$1.5 billion; and for the entire "Downtown Dubai" development, US$20 billion. In March 2009, Mohamed Ali Alabbar, chairman of the project's developer, Emaar Properties, said office space pricing at Burj Khalifa reached US$4,000 per sq ft (over US$43,000 per m2) and the Armani Residences, also in Burj Khalifa, sold for US$3,500 per sq ft (over US$37,500 per m2).
The project's completion coincided with the global financial crisis of 2007-2010, and with vast overbuilding in the country, led to high vacancies and foreclosures. With Dubai mired in debt from its huge ambitions, the government was forced to seek multibillion dollar bailouts from its oil rich neighbor Abu Dhabi. Subsequently, in a surprise move at its opening ceremony, the tower was renamed Burj Khalifa, said to honour the UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his crucial support.
Due to the slumping demand in Dubai's property market, the rents in the Burj Khalifa plummeted 40% some ten months after its opening. Out of 900 apartments in the tower, around 825 were still empty at that time.
Burj Khalifa was designed to be the centerpiece of a large-scale, mixed-use development that would include 30,000 homes, nine hotels (including The Address Downtown Dubai), 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of parkland, at least 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 12-hectare (30-acre) man-made Burj Khalifa Lake.
The building has returned the location of Earth's tallest freestanding structure to the Middle East where the Great Pyramid of Giza claimed this achievement for almost four millennia before being surpassed in 1311 by Lincoln Cathedral in England.
The decision to build Burj Khalifa is reportedly based on the government's decision to diversify from an oil based economy to one that is service and tourism based. According to officials, it is necessary for projects like Burj Khalifa to be built in the city to garner more international recognition, and hence investment. "He (Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) wanted to put Dubai on the map with something really sensational," said Jacqui Josephson, a tourism and VIP delegations executive at Nakheel Properties.
The Dubai Fountain
Outside, and at a cost of Dh 800 million (US$217 million), a record-setting fountain system was designed by WET Design, the California-based company responsible for the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel Lake in Las Vegas. Illuminated by 6,600 lights and 50 coloured projectors, it is 275 m (902 ft) long and shoots water 150 m (490 ft) into the air, accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and world music. On 26 October 2008, Emaar announced that based on results of a naming contest the fountain would be called the Dubai Fountain.
An outdoor observation deck, named At the Top, opened on 5 January 2010 on the 124th floor.It is the third highest observation deck in the world and the second highest outdoor observation deck in the world, at 452 m (1,483 ft).The observation deck also features the Behold Telescope, an augmented reality device developed by gsmprjcto of Montreal, which allows visitors to view the surrounding landscape in real-time, and to view previously saved images such as those taken at different times of day or under different weather conditions.To manage the daily rush of sightseers, visitors are able to purchase tickets in advance for a specific date and time and at a 75% discount over tickets purchased on the spot.
On 8 February 2010, the observation deck was closed to the public after power supply problems caused an elevator to become stuck between floors, trapping a group of tourists for 45 minutes. Despite rumours of the observation deck reopening for St. Valentine's Day (14 February),it remained closed until 4 April 2010.
Burj Khalifa park
Burj Khalifa is surrounded by an 11 ha (27-acre) park designed by landscape architects SWA Group.The design of the park is also inspired by the core design concepts of Burj Khalifa which is based on the symmetries of the desert flower, Hymenocallis. The park has six water features, gardens, palm lined walkways, and flowering trees.At the centre of the park and the base of Burj Khalifa is the water room, which is a series of pools and water jet fountains. In addition the railing, benches and signs incorporate images of Burj Khalifa and the Hymenocallis flower.
The plants and the shrubbery will be watered by the buildings's condensation collection system that uses water from the cooling system. The system will provide 68,000,000 L (15,000,000 imp gal) annually. WET designers, who also developed the Dubai Fountain, developed the park's six water features.
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