Burj Al Arab
|Burj Al Arab |
Burj Al Arab in 2007
|Location||Dubai, United Arab Emirates|
|Architectural||321 m (1,053 ft)|
|Top floor||197.5 m (648 ft)|
|Floor count||56 (3 below ground)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Tom Wright of WKK Architects|
|Number of rooms||202 from USD $2,000 per night.|
The Burj Al Arab (Arabic: برج العرب, Tower of the Arabs) is a luxury hotel located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Of the tallest hotels in the world, it is the fifth tallest, although 39% of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space. Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) from Jumeirah Beach and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to resemble the sail of a ship. It has a helipad near the roof at a height of 210 m (689 ft) above ground.
The beachfront area where Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Beach Hotel are located was previously called Miami Beach. The hotel is located on an island of reclaimed land 280 meters offshore of the beach of the former Chicago Beach Hotel. The locale's name had its origins in the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company which at one time welded giant floating oil storage tanks, known locally as Kazzans on the site.
Design and construction
Burj Al Arab was designed by multidisciplinary consultancy Atkins led by architect Tom Wright, who has since become co-founder of WKK Architects. The design and construction were managed by Canadian engineer Rick Gregory also of WS Atkins. It is very similar to the Vasco da Gama Tower located in Lisbon, Portugal. Construction of the island began in 1994 and involved up to 2,000 construction workers during peak construction. It was built to resemble the billowing spinnaker sail of a J-class yacht. Two "wings" spread in a V to form a vast "mast", while the space between them is enclosed in a massive atrium. The architect Tom Wright said "The client wanted a building that would become an iconic or symbolic statement for Dubai; this is very similar to Sydney with its Opera House, London with Big Ben, or Paris with the Eiffel Tower. It needed to be a building that would become synonymous with the name of the city."[not in citation given]
Fletcher Construction from New Zealand was the lead joint venture partner in the initial stages of pre-construction and construction. The hotel was built by South African construction contractor Murray & Roberts and Al Habtoor Engineering and the interior works were delivered by UAE based Depa.
The building opened in December 1999.
The hotel’s helipad, one of the buildings most visible contributions was designed by Irish architect Rebecca Gernon who worked as a part of the Atkins team and later went onto founding her own architecture and interior design company (Serendipity By Design), headquartered in Dubai with offices in Manila and Dublin. 
Several features of the hotel required complex engineering feats to achieve. The hotel rests on an artificial island constructed 280 m (920 ft) offshore. To secure a foundation, the builders drove 230 forty-meter-long (130 ft) concrete piles into the sand.
Engineers created a ground/surface layer of large rocks, which is circled with a concrete honeycomb pattern, which serves to protect the foundation from erosion. It took three years to reclaim the land from the sea, while it took fewer than three years to construct the building itself. The building contains over 70,000 m3 (92,000 cu yd) of concrete and 9,000 tons of steel.
Given the height of the building, Burj Al Arab is the world's fifth tallest hotel after Gevora Hotel, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, Four Seasons Place Kuala Lumpur and Rose and Rayhaan by Rotana. But where buildings with mixed use were stripped off the list, Burj Al Arab would be the world's third tallest hotel. The structure of the Rose Rayhaan, also in Dubai, is 12 m (40 ft) taller than Burj Al Arab.
Rooms and suites
The hotel is managed by the Jumeirah Group. Despite its size, Burj Al Arab holds only 28 double-story floors which accommodate 202 bedroom suites. The smallest suite occupies an area of 169 m2 (1,820 sq ft), the largest covers 780 m2 (8,400 sq ft).
The Burj Al Arab is very popular with the Chinese market, which made up 25 percent of all bookings at the hotel in 2011 and 2012.
Al Muntaha ("The Ultimate"), is located 200 m (660 ft) above the Persian Gulf, offering a view of Dubai. It is supported by a full cantilever that extends 27 m (89 ft) from either side of the mast, and is accessed by a panoramic elevator.
Al Mahara ("Oyster"), which is accessed via a simulated submarine voyage, features a large seawater aquarium, holding roughly 990,000 L (260,000 US gal) of water. The wall of the tank, made of acrylic glass in order to withstand the water pressure, is about 18 cm (7.1 in) thick.
The Burj Al Arab is a five-star hotel, the highest official ranking. While the hotel is sometimes erroneously described as "the world's only seven-star hotel", the hotel management claims never to have done that themselves. In the words of a Jumeirah Group spokesperson: "There's not a lot we can do to stop it. We're not encouraging the use of the term. We've never used it in our advertising."
Reviews by architecture critics
Burj Al Arab has attracted criticism as well "a contradiction of sorts, considering how well-designed and impressive the construction ultimately proves to be." The contradiction here seems to be related to the hotel’s decor. "This extraordinary investment in state-of-the-art construction technology stretches the limits of the ambitious urban imagination in an exercise that is largely due to the power of excessive wealth." Another critic includes negative critiques for the city of Dubai as well: "both the hotel and the city, after all, are monuments to the triumph of money over practicality. Both elevate style over substance." Yet another: "Emulating the quality of palatial interiors, in an expression of wealth for the mainstream, a theater of opulence is created in Burj Al Arab … The result is a baroque effect".
Several events have taken place on the helipad 210 m (689 ft) above ground to attract media attention. These include:
- 2004: Tiger Woods teeing off
- 2005: Andre Agassi and Roger Federer playing tennis
- 2006: Ronan Keating shot the Music Video for his single "Iris" at the Helipad of Burj Al Arab.
- 2007: The Today Show broadcast from the Helipad a segment of Where in the World is Matt Lauer?
- 2011: Golfer Rory McIlroy performing a bunker shot.
- 2013: Heli-lift of Aston Martin Vanquish.
- 2013: David Coulthard performing donuts in a Formula 1 racecar.
- 2017: Nick Jacobsen kiteboards down to the sea.
In popular culture
The last chapter of the espionage novel Performance Anomalies takes place at the top of the Burj Al Arab, where the spy protagonist Cono 7Q discovers that through deadly betrayal his spy nemesis Katerina has maneuvered herself into the top echelon of the government of Kazakhstan. The Hotel can also be seen in Syriana, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and also some Bollywood movies.[which?]
Richard Hammond included the building in his television series, Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections.
- W Barcelona (Hotel Vela) – skyscraper of similar appearance in Barcelona, Spain (sail)
- Elite Plaza – a similar-shaped skyscraper in Yerevan, Armenia
- JW Marriott Panama (Panama City) – similar structure
- Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth – similar structure in Portsmouth, UK
- List of tallest buildings in the United Arab Emirates
- List of buildings in Dubai
- List of tallest buildings in Dubai
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- "VIDEO: Red Bull in sensational Dubai helipad donut demo" Crash.net, 31 October 2013. Accessed: 2 November 2013. Photos
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- on YouTube
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- National Geographic: Megastructures
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