Impressive Feats of Engineering #4: The Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa 3Back again after a short interlude, our series on impressive feats of engineering jumps all the way to the present day in our latest feature. We’ve spent a fair bit of time exploring engineering feats in ancient times, and touched upon a reasonably ‘recent’ innovation (in the great scheme of things at least!) in the last instalment of this series, but there are plenty of very up to date things to talk about as well. To emphasise that engineering is very much part of the present and not just the past, we’re going to look at one of the engineering marvels of our modern age; namely, the Burj Khalifa.

The Tallest Man-Made Structure

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest man-made structure in the entire world, and, although the initial construction processes for the building began a decade ago, it was only finished in 2010. As you might expect, something that is 6 years in the making is going to be very special indeed, and so it proved. Located in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa represents a genuinely new way to build. Don’t believe us? Well, to put it into context, the pretty recent norm was for high-rise buildings and the like to measure in at around the 15,000 foot mark; the Burj Khalifa stands tall at a frankly ridiculous 2,700 feet.

Burj Khalifa

Construction and Testing

The Burj Khalifa depends upon what is known as a buttressed core. This is essentially a central section with repeated buttresses going up the length of the tower. However, the real engineering know-how behind the Burj Khalifa can be seen with regards to how the tower adapts to environmental factors. At such a colossal height, any slight change in wind or temperature can be a major issue. As a result, every situation was simulated thoroughly before construction began.

Burj Khalifa 2

The Whole Burj Khalifa Project

Over 40 wind tunnels were used to calculate how the Burj Khalifa should react when under strong winds, but what you may not realise is that these same tests also had to be applied to the machinery (like the cranes) that were required in the construction process. With so much attention on the structure itself, it’s easy to forget that the cranes needed to be just as impressive in scale, and even the elevators were engineered to move nearly 4 times faster than standard variants.  All told, we reckon that the entire Burj Khalifa project – not just the finished structure – should go down as an impressive feat of contemporary engineering.

Here at Motion Drives and Controls, we’re very used to working with the UK engineering industry, so we know that a good number of smaller scale feats of engineering are always flying under the radar on a daily basis. They may not make the headlines, but they’re still important, and they require the very best products and components to be successful. If you have a need for high quality solutions like Boston Gear devices, contact us now by calling 01926 411 544 or email

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