Evolution of the Structural Form to Achieve Elegant Dubai Towers

Frank Cerra
Managing Director
BG&E, Sydney

Dubai has been a city of enormous growth over the past 20 years, evolving from the Emirates Towers to a modern polycentric city with a captivating skyline. The evolution of the city has encouraged an evolution of structural solutions to support numerous tall towers of varying forms, in a city now globally recognized for such towers. The presentation involves three unique landmark Dubai towers, with an emphasis on structural design, efficiencies, and buildability in this local context, all with a view to achieving their overall elegance.

Vision Tower is a 270-meter, tall eccentric structure. Its structural challenges were kept in check with an eccentric concrete core with manageable tensions and no damping requirements. The JW Marriott Marquis, twin 355-meter towers, constitute the world’s tallest all-hotel building. Engineering it involved pushing boundaries with materials - particularly concrete and post-tensioning - to achieve an efficient and quickly buildable structure. Its overall stability concept was built concurrently, using a self-climbing form. The Index building, one of the most unique structural systems, was enormously challenging. It does not have a central concrete core box and columns supporting the building for vertical and lateral loading. Instead, there are concrete portal frames and attenuated buttress walls. Integrated with the portal frames are transfer structures, playing the dual roles of resisting vertical and lateral loads. A state- -of-the-art building like this requires many specialist skills and a team effort with the contractor, and is a useful example of the construction engineering challenges inherent to building complex transfer structures hundreds of meters above ground.