High and Mighty

Dubai's Burj Khalifa by Iwan Baan

The Burj Khalifa is the glittering jewel in Dubai’s construction crown. Opened in January 2010, it marked a huge milestone in engineering when it became the tallest building in the world. With a height of just over 800 meters, it surpasses the Teipei 101––the skyscraper that previously held the record—by over 300 meters. Designed by Chicago-based architects SOM, the firm responsible for the Willis Tower in Chicago and the Lever House in New York, the skyscraper took inspiration from patterns found in Islamic architecture and also from the Hymenocallis, a white lily native to the area. The edifice was an obvious draw for photographer Iwan Baan, who has previously documented the work of architects such as Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron. Baan made it to Dubai a week after the opening ceremony and hired a helicopter, enabling him to capture the Burj Khalifa’s mind-boggling proportions. “The building is so thin and from many points of view in Dubai it is barely visible, although it’s twice as high as anything else,” he says. “If you’re up close to a building that tall, it doesn’t make much difference if it’s 80 meters or 800 meters––it’s only when you’re far away that you start to understand the scale of it.” While only one floor has been accessible to the public so far, offices and residences are slowly being made available, and with the launch of the Armani Hotel within the tower on April 22, guests will be able to experience new heights of luxury.


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