The developer of the world's tallest tower in Dubai has completed installing the exterior walls following severe setbacks that contributed to a year-long delay in finishing the building. The exterior cladding work on Emaar's Burj Dubai was delayed in late 2006, when Schmidlin Facade Technology, the cladding contractor based in Switzerland, went bankrupt.
Arabian Aluminium Company and its Hong Kong partner, Far East Aluminium, later took over the contract and started cladding work on the tower in May 2007. The changeover was believed to have delayed work on the tower, which is thought to have topped out earlier this year at 818 metres, by about six months. Revisions to the project, including the addition of extra floors to accommodate a communications centre, also pushed the completion date back from April this year to the end of the year.
Emaar said the total weight of aluminium used on Burj Dubai, which is the centrepiece of the 202-hectare Downtown Burj Dubai, was equivalent to that of five double-decker A380 aircraft. A total of 24,348 cladding panels over a curtain wall area of 132,190 square metres was used, requiring a team of more than 380 engineers and technicians. The company's chairman, Mohammed Alabbar, said completion of the cladding work was "a milestone both for Burj Dubai and the science of high-rise engineering".
"Burj Dubai's construction and engineering techniques are unprecedented, and they are our contribution to the science of high-rise development," he said. "The cladding work has involved considerable innovation - vast amounts of research and simulation have pioneered advanced materials and installation techniques." Mr Alabbar said one of the key considerations when designing the cladding was "maximising resistance against heat transmission from the sun and improving energy efficiency within the tower".
The last crane at the top of the Burj Dubai is expected to come down soon. Contractors including Arabtec Construction, Samsung of South Korea and Besix of Belgium have worked around the clock to get the tower finished, which at its peak required a team of about 7,000 construction workers, 24 hours a day. The trio was awarded the Dh3.2 billion (US$871 million) contract to build the skyscraper, which will also include the world's first Armani Hotel and Armani Residences, in 2004.