I like tall buildings. I’ve been to the World Trade Center in New York before 9/11. I’ve been to the Sears Tower and John Hancock Building in Chicago and the CN Tower in Toronto. On this trip I’ve been to Taipei 101 in Taiwan and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. They are all very large, damn big buildings.
However, they are nothing compared to the Burj Dubai, which is God Damn Big.
Prior to the Burj Dubi, the title of the tallest building in the world was gained through incremental increases in height. The last several buildings to hold the title all had to create special categories to justify the title. The Petronas Tower gained the title of tallest building in the world over the Sears Tower, even though the top floor of the Sears Tower is above the top floor of the Petronas Tower. It was considered taller because its spire made it taller. The Sears Tower has a radio antenna on top which is higher than the spire of the Petronas Tower, but that doesn’t count because it isn’t an architectural element. Got that?
Taipei 101 was higher than the Petronas Towers in all respects, but it still wasn’t taller than the top antenna of the Sears Tower. Since the mid 70’s, the CN Tower in Toronto was taller than the Sears Tower, but it isn’t really a building. So they created a new category for free standing structures which are not buildings.
“Free standing” implies there are non-free standing structures, which is exactly what radio and TV antennas are. They have guide wires, and in that category there is the KVLY-TV antenna in North Dakota which is taller than either the CN Tower, Taipei 101 or the top of the antenna on the Sears Tower.
So you have all these categories for different structures and different ways of splitting hairs. The Burj Dubai has put an end to all that. It is the tallest thing by any measure. It is taller than any building, any structure, any antenna…..any thing.
It isn’t just taller. Is it way taller. It is almost twice the height of the Sears Tower. It is, to put it mildly, God Damn Big. The last numbers I’ve heard had the Burj topping out at 818m (2,683ft).
The history of the tallest building in the world goes back to the Great Pyramid. It held the record for 3,800 years. I’m sure in the day, the ancient Egyptians would look upon the pyramid and say “That is a Ra Damn Big pyramid”
In the 1311 Century, the Lincoln Cathedral in England took the title, and everyone said “Thou art a God dammeth big church”…..until its steeple fell down in 1549. Cathedrals kept holding the record until the end of the 19th Century when the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower were built, which were the first non-religious building to hold the record. At the 1889 World Fair, the Parisians said “C’est tour de rien d’un dieu une grande”
The Burj Dubai has a very similar look to a mile-high building designed in 1956 by Frank Lloyd Wright, called The Illinois. While the Burj Dubai is only half the height of the proposed mile-high building, it has a three pronged base and a similar spire type shape. The technology to build a mile-high building didn’t exist in the 1950’s. To build the Burj Dubai, they had to develop special techniques pump cement that high, as it had never been done before. They also had to pump cement in the evening when the heat wasn’t as intense.
I’d like to come back to Dubai in a few years just to go inside the finished building and go up to the observation deck. There are plans on the table to create a building even taller than the Burj Dubai which would top out at over 1km in height. It would be so tall that you could experience the sunset twice; once at the bottom and once at the top. Now THAT would be really God damn big!