1. A tower in Dubai that opens today has earned the title of world’s tallest building with a height of 2,717 feet (828 meters). That’s more than half a mile high. Actually, it grabbed that title during construction back in July 2007 when it passed Taipei 101, which stands 500 meters tall.
2. Until its official opening today, the building’s exact height was a closely held secret known by only a few people. The building’s architects, Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings, and Merril, speculated last week that someone might try to steal the thunder from the big announcement by measuring the building’s shadow to figure out its height.
3. The opening ceremony included another surprise. The tower, which had been known as the Burj Dubai, was renamed the Burj Khalifa, in honor of Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the neighboring emirate Abu Dhabi. The last-minute switch carries a symbolic weight in light of the billions of dollars oil-rich Abu Dhabi has poured into Dubai in order to cover its debts [The New York Times].
4. The Burj is not only the tallest building in the world, it’s also home to the highest observation deck, swimming pool, elevator, restaurant, and fountain in the world.
5. Speaking of the acrophobia inducing elevator, it travels at speeds roughly 40 miles per hour (65 kilometers per hour) and reaches the observation deck in about 2 minutes.
6. Once at the top, visitors can enjoy temperatures that are nearly 15 degrees cooler than at the building’s base.
7. Dubai is built in the middle of the desert, so to withstand the UAE’s 120-degree blistering summer heat the tower is covered with 24,348 cladding panels.
8. Many skyscrapers are built to bend with the wind—the Burj, which will be exposed to strong desert winds, more than others. According to lead architect George Efstathiou, “the building is tuned to sway slowly so your middle ear doesn’t pick it up,” Efstathiou explained. “They tune it just like a musical instrument so that the harmonics of the building don’t coincide with the harmonics caused by the wind…. We tune it so that on the floors where people are going to be, you don’t feel it that much” [CNN].
9. Before all those floors fill up with people, Burj Khalifa has an empty weight of 500,000 tons.
10. The building won’t be empty much longer, however. So if you want in, you better hurry; 90 percent of the 900 residences (not including the soon-to-open Giorgio Armani-designed hotel) have been sold.
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Image: flickr / joi