No new habitable floors will be added beyond the completed 160 floors of the Burj Dubai, the tallest man-made structure, according to the architect who designed it.

In an exclusive interview with XPRESS, renowned architect Adrian Smith said that the remaining work on the steel-framed spire will be mostly ornamental to push the building's height higher.

“It's 160 total habitable floors, yes,'' said Smith, while refusing to disclose the final proposed height of the structure.

“It should be topped out in another four or five months,'' Smith said. “The spire is largely there to create a landmark that is a well-proportioned and elegant piece of architecture.''

Associates connected to the project say the steel spire may be at least 70 stories tall, lending credence to some predictions that the Burj Dubai could reach more than 800 metres into the sky.

Burj Dubai became the tallest freestanding structure on April 7 at 629 metres (2,064 feet) when it climbed past the KVLY-TV Mast in North Dakota, USA.

Reinforced concrete construction on the structure has been completed, Smith said, adding that workers were now erecting the steel frame, of which, only four habitable floors will be constructed to house communications equipment.

He said no other offices or residential floors will be built beyond those communications floors.

“From there on, it's the spire,'' he said.

Smith designed the building over two years after his former Chicago-based firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill won the design competition from Emaar in 2003. Below the four communications floors are 30 boutique office floors and beneath those is a combination of luxury residential and residential apartments. Closer to the bottom, the Burj Dubai features hotel residences, and at the ground level will be hotel facilities.

Smith said that strong winds had to be taken into account to avoid detectable movement in the tower. Near the top of the structure, there will be “1.2 metre drift under maximum wind load, but that's not perceptible.''

To keep wind load under control, Smith said that 27 steps, or tiers, were built into the design of the tower to virtually break small wind vortices from gaining strength and size and thereby moving the building back and forth more than was needed.

Smith – who has now founded his own Chicago firm, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill – said he is pleased to see the progress and said that Emaar is still consulting him on any proposed design changes.

When he first set out to derive a unique design from his three decades of experience of building some of the world's tallest towers in America and the Far East, Smith said he wanted something that merged with the natural surroundings.

He wanted to incorporate traditional Islamic architecture into the tower, while, at the same time, using some elements of the desert's natural beauty.

He used the shape of the Hymeocallis – a plant known in the UAE, India and the region – to instill harmony into the design. “When I designed the building, I was trying to get an organic quality to it, like something that has emerged from the ground as opposed to separating the piece from nature,'' he said.

With the topping, glass cladding and landscaping yet to be completed, it will be some time before the organic vision falls into place, he explained.

Speaking of vision, Emaar Properties' Chairman Mohammad Bin Ali Al Abbar said on the company's website that “Burj Dubai goes beyond its imposing physical specifications. It is a source of inspiration for every one of us in Emaar. In Burj Dubai, we see the triumph of Dubai's vision – of attaining the seemingly impossible and setting new benchmarks.“The project is a declaration of the emirate's capabilities and of the resolve of its leaders and people to work hand in hand on truly awe-inspiring projects.''

Burj Dubai Amenities

  • Exclusive corporate suites
  • Residential suites
  • A cigar club
  • Four pools
  • Observation platform
  • Restaurants
  • Library
  • Exclusive residents' lounge
  • 15,000 square-foot fitness area


Tower usage:

  • 172 hotel guestrooms
  • 492 hotel residences
  • 354 residences
  • 232 luxury residences
  • Total number of units: 1,250
  • 37 boutique offices
  • Four communications floors
  • One observatory platform
  • 3,000 parking spaces

(SOURCE: Emaar)