View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Friday, September 14, 2007

Burj Dubai: A Modern Tower of Babel

The declaration has been made. Dubai now has the tallest building in the world.

While not finished or open, the claims to fame are being made and the record books are being rewritten because the Burj Dubai:

* Is the tallest free-standing structure at 555.3 meters (don’t forget the 0.3!)
* Has the largest number of storeys for any building in the world

The developer is quoted as saying that reaching the 555 meters that surpasses the previous record holder, the Taipei 101 tower in Taiwan, is a “defining moment in making this iconic structure a symbol of human achievement.” Attaining the required elevation also led the developer to say, “This architectural and construction masterpiece is truly an inspirational human achievement that celebrates the ‘can do’ mindset of Dubai." This talk is starting to sound like the Tower of Babel all over again.

These statements are not necessarily the only conclusion to draw. In some cities (like Melbourne, Australia) where developers promoted plans to build the tallest building in the world, the public said, “No!” They were not expressing a ‘can’t do’ attitude but saying that our esteem as a city does not depend on whether we have a building that towers over every other. They were also concerned about architectural aesthetics with a building that would wreck the symmetry of the skyline as well as creating shading problems.

Beauty or the masterpiece award is in the eye of the beholder. Being the first city in the world for air purity (so you can breathe freely and see out of your tower), labour conditions and awards for construction workers, environmental standards, effective transport systems (including the high use of public transport), cultural and artistic treasures, parks, gardens and meeting places that create a real heart would get my vote for demonstrating the ‘can do’ ability of Dubai and be enduring achievements that are truly inspirational.

Geoff Pound

Source: Robert Ditcham, ‘At 150 Storeys Burj Dubai Towers above all other’, 13 September 2007, Gulf News.
Burj Dubai Official Web site.

Image: “Burj Dubai towers above all others.”