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The Burj Al Arab is a luxury hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is considered as the second tallest building in the world with a measurement of 321 meters or 1,050 feet. It is also the tallest structure in terms of a hotel. The Burj Al Arab is standing on an artificial island constructed from Jumeirah beach. The island is connected to the mainland by a curving bridge. The hotel is regarded as an iconic structure. The Burj Al Arab is designed to symbolize the urban transformation of Dubai. The construction of the hotel began in 1994. The structure was meant to resemble the sail of a boat or a dhow which is an Arabian boat. The architect of the hotel was Tom Wright. He said that the client wanted the structure of the hotel to symbolize the essence of Dubai like what the Opera House is to Sydney and the Eiffel Tower to France. The structure needed to become something that will be synonymous with the country’s name. W.S. Atkins Ltd., a consultancy firm in the United Kingdom, became the engineering and architecture consultant for the hotel. The total cost of the hotel reached US $650 million (Al Abbar Group 2004).
Many features of the hotel required the great efforts from the engineering field to complete. Since the hotel rests on an artificial island, it needs to have a secure foundation. The builders of the hotel drove long concrete piles amounting to 130 feet into the sand (Binder 2006). The engineers were able to create a surface layer composed of large rocks following a honeycomb pattern that will serve to protect the foundation from erosion. The construction of the building lasted for less than three years. The hotel’s unique shape and location also required special consideration of materials. The whole structure is held by a steel frame shaped like a V. The outer steel frame supports inner V-shaped hotel suites. The interiors are made of reinforced concrete. Since the hotel structure was meant to withstand extreme conditions of the desert, dense and quality concrete was needed to strengthen its foundation. The engineers also had to consider the humidity and high temperatures. The location of the hotel is of great significance to engineering and the space needed to complete its construction. The ground beneath the hotel is composed mainly of silt and sand since it is an artificial island. The foundation was reinforced with cement piles but they do not reach the bedrock of the ground. The strength of the foundation comes from the great force of the deep cement piles.
The Burj Al Arab Hotel was intended not only as a luxury hotel but as a symbol of ingenuity, opulence and the great Arabian spirit. The planning and construction of the hotel is a result of the partnership between the government and private sector of Dubai. The Burj Al Arab is clearly distinct from other hotel properties. The hotel has the capacity to accommodate two hundred two duplex suites. Each suite has floor to ceiling windows. The hotel has an atrium that extends almost 600 feet high. It is considered as the tallest of its kind in the world. The atrium is the core of hotel and is flanked on both sides by the balconies of the hotel suites. The hotel has three basements with 59 levels above the ground. The site area is 54,445 square feet or 5, 060 square meters. The area of the building above the ground is 120,000 square meters. The hotel has 380 parking spaces (Binder 2006). The main structural materials are composed of reinforced concrete, steel and curtain wall. The Burj Al Arab is considered as a jewel within Dubai’s urban transformation and progress.