Burj Khalifa

Topics: Skyscraper, Burj Khalifa, Taipei 101 Pages: 3 (1184 words) Published: January 2, 2013
The Burj Khalifa, in Dubai—the new holder of the title of World’s Tallest Building—is no less extravagant a media gesture. Unlike Wright’s design, to which it bears a startling resemblance, this building is very real—all one hundred and sixty stories (or two thousand seven hundred and seventeen feet) of it. For decades, skyscrapers have been topping each other in only small increments: Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers (one thousand four hundred and eighty-two feet) are thirty-two feet taller than Chicago’s Sears Tower (or Willis Tower, as it is now called); the Shanghai World Financial Center is about a hundred and thirty feet taller than the Petronas Towers; Taipei 101, in Taiwan, is fifty feet taller than the Shanghai tower; and so on. But the Burj Khalifa represents a quantum leap over these midgets. Even if you put the Chrysler Building on top of the Empire State Building, that still wouldn’t equal its height. As with most super-tall buildings, function is hardly the point of the Burj Khalifa. Certainly, it’s not as if there weren’t enough land to build on in Dubai, or any need for more office or residential space, after a decade-long construction spree that makes the excesses of Florida look almost prudent. Dubai doesn’t have as much oil as some other emirates, and saw a way to make itself rich by turning an expanse of sand beside the Arabian Gulf into an all-in-one business center, resort, and haven for flight capital. When the tower was first planned, by Emaar Properties, a real-estate entity partly owned by the government, it was called Burj Dubai, which means Dubai Tower—just in case anyone might have missed the fact that the world’s most high-flying, come-from-nowhere city was also home to the world’s tallest building. But, while the building was going up, growth in Dubai ground to a halt, leaving much of the new real estate unoccupied and unsold. This past November, Dubai ran out of money, was unable to make payments on sixty billion dollars’ worth of...
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