Mastering the Challenges: Lessons from the Recent Past

David Bradford
Project Director
Turner Construction Company, Dubai

There may not be a better definition than this year’s theme of “Polycentric Cities,” when it comes to describing Dubai. Polycentric cities of vertical urbanism are developing at mega-speed. Visionary leaders of Dubai, along with mega-developers like Emaar, have transformed the city into a global icon, inspiring people and driving growth. It’s been an incredible success story, challenging perceptions globally, and bringing real economic opportunity to millions of people.

This presentation concerns some of the key aspects of vertical urbanism that can be easy to forget when we look to the Grand Opening or the beautiful Master Plan model. The main example is the Burj Khalifa, which is used to illustrate key challenges and some solutions. The main challenges were around matching aerodynamics, gravity load management, seismic design, fire and life safety, and a structural and cladding strategy to the design inspiration. In terms of construction methodology, solutions included an automatic self-climbing formwork system, circular steel forms, and panel forms, as well as some creative approaches to craning. The unusual geometry also presented challenges in terms of significant motion-induced forces, which had to be tested extensively in wind tunnels. Stack effect was mitigated through mechanical systems balancing, airtight construction of continuous shafts and exterior wall, and interruption of continuous shafts by way of areas of refuge, air locks, revolving doors, and intermediate-level lobbies.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation