World's tallest building unveiled

20:55, Jan 05 2010
Burj Khalifa
TRULY MAJESTIC: Dubai's 162-storey Burj Khalifa superimposed on the Wellington skyline shows the sheer scale of the world's tallest man-made structure. At 828 metres, it Is more than seven times higher than the 116m Majestic Centre.

Six years and NZ$2 billion in the making, the colossal Burj Dubai has been unveiled – and renamed.

At an estimated height of at least 828 metres, the United Arab Emirates "superscraper" is more than seven times taller than Wellington's tallest building, the 116m Majestic Centre in Willis St.

Designers of the world's tallest building kept its projected finished height a secret in an effort to prevent competitors from overtaking their bid for the record.

At yesterday's unveiling, officials announced the tower would be renamed Burj Khalifa, in honour of neighbouring Abu Dhabi's head of state, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whose emirate pumped in tens of billions of dollars last year to bail Dubai out of massive debts.

The Burj – meaning tower – broke its first record midway through construction in February 2007, when it surpassed Chicago's Sears Tower to become the building with the most floors.

The Taipei Financial Centre, formerly the world's tallest building, stands 509m, just 61 per cent of the new giant – if you plonked the Eiffel Tower on top of Taipei's, you'd just about get there.

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Our petite Majestic Centre houses accounting firms, the Japanese embassy, a hairdresser and a gym – but the Burj gives swanky a new meaning. A luxury Armani Hotel will occupy 15 of the lower 39 floors, its interior designed by fashion mogul Giorgio Armani.

Floors 40 to 108 will have 900 private apartments, which sold for more than NZ$3500 per square foot at their peak in 2008, though prices have reportedly fallen by up to half.

A "zero-entry" pool – that's a swimming pool with sloping edges like a beach – is planned for the 76th floor.

About 7500 labourers worked on the superscraper, using more than 110,000 tonnes of reinforced concrete for the foundation alone.

Wellington entrepreneur Bill Day, head of marine contracting business Seaworks, visited Dubai many times during the construction and said the hype was justified.

"It's just incredible – everything over there is bigger and better, they don't even work to a budget. The whole place is just an architect's paradise."

When construction began in 2004, the tower was in sandy desert – now buildings had sprung up like foothills around Mt Everest.

The Burj also houses the world's largest shopping mall, covering 836,000 square metres – about half the area of Wellington's CBD.

The Dominion Post