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Burj Al-Arab, UAE Structural Steel Construction For A Mega Project
By Dato’ A K Nathan, Managing Director, Shin Eversendai Sdn Bhd


n recent years, all over the world, the construction industry is emerging very rapidly both in engineering and technology, and contributing significantly to economic development. In the later part of the past century, there has been extensive usage of steel in the construction industry and steel explored much more possibilities to substitute other conventional materials. With today’s structural steel framing, grace, art and function can come together in almost limitless ways; it offers new solutions and opportunities, allowing architects to stretch their imagination and actually create some of the most challenging structures they have designed in their minds. Structural steel has entered a new era. Today it provides not only strength to buildings but also beauty. Steel is not only being used to provide a stable framework for a structure but in many cases is also chosen for its aesthetic appearance. Eversendai have had the good fortune to be involved in steel structure projects of diverse types one of which was The Burj Al Arab. It will demonstrate the versatility of steel for various applications and also illustrate the various complexities:Designed to resemble a billowing sail, one of the most fascinating, majestic, wonder structures in the world, the Burj Al Arab soars to a height of 321m,

Burj Al Arab

dominating the Dubai coastline. This all-suite hotel reflects the finest that the world has to offer. An architectural marvel, it is an engineering excellence for the 15 th tallest building in the world. It is the world’s tallest hotel structure. This project has become Eversendai’s signature project and it has paved the way for Eversendai’s entry into the Middle East’s booming construction market as a specialist structural steel

contractor. Now Eversendai is dominating their presence in the Middle East. The Burj Al Arab means “Tower of the Arabs” is situated at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, designed by Mr Thomas Wills Wright. It stands in the sea, 280m away from the beach in the Persian Gulf on a man made island connected to the main land by a private curving bridge. It has access by Land, Sea and Air.

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Eversendai scope includes the site assembly. After each segment were erected. 45m under the sea. The Burj Al Arab building is made of 28 storeys of split levels (56 storey) with 100. 80000 m2 of cladding. 60000 m3 of concrete.5m in size. The Project was been awarded to Eversendai purely based on its construction methodology. and the largest one covers 780 sq m. the Royal Suite is the most expensive. The total weight of the structure is about 2. Engineer’s Night Mare” . Three self-climbing tower cranes with a maximum lift capacity of 64 tons at 8. the piles rely on friction as there is only piles embedded in sand to hold the building up.coated fiber glass cloth and sits on 250 piles of 1. rather it is divided into 202 duplex suites with split levels. Some of the embedment weighed as high as 60 tons. is a restaurant supported by a cantilever structure.A rticle It is one of the most fascinating.000 per night. This Burj Al Arab building is a hybrid V shape structure constructed in concrete up to 209 m and blended with structural steel creating an impressive engineering master piece. The Burj Al Arab does not have ordinary rooms. Total Steel works are phased into Exoskeleton Rear leg. welding and erection of structural steel works. The structure was made of two build up H sections of 1. Horizontals. This Vshaped frame wraps around the V reinforced concrete tower containing the hotel rooms and lobbies. at US$28. Steel is the best-opted material for this building due to its flexibility and constructability. Ninety percent of the steel structures constructed were outside the building and was potentially dangerous to erect. Diagonals. We are proud to say that this project was the major break through for Eversendai Engineering in Middle East region. 10000 m2 of teflon . It is one of the most expensive hotels in the world to stay in. The assembled segment were lifted and erected in position using the tower cranes from ground floor to top. reinforced concrete spine at the base of the V. over the ocean.5 metre deep plate girders (inner and outer legs) connected by a lattice braced members and segmented to 40 ton capacity 12m in length to create the gentle curve in concurrence with the building edge developing the shape of a sail. Sky Restaurant.000 ton of reinforcing steel. and extending from the other side of the hotel. The two structures connect along a shored.000 per night and increases to over US$15.800 tons.8 metre wide by 4. which is covered with a woven. 12. alignment. one over another using specially designed lifting lugs with 20 ton chain hoists in the pre-determined lifting location to lift the segment in required angle. The smallest suite occupies an area of 169 sq m.000 ton of structural steelworks. 9.1999. Construction of the Burj Al Arab hotel began in1994. The cost of staying in a suite begins at US$1.000 m 2 floor area. The top is the mast and below it is the helipad. Teflon-coated fiber glass cloth. and its doors were opened to guests in December. About 100 tons of electrodes were burned and the welding defect ratio was less then 1%. Rear Brace Frame. Helipad. Atrium and the Mast :Exoskeleton Rear leg Erection The exoskeleton is made up of two legs on both sides of the building starting from the ground level to 273 meters and connected to the front legs starting from 208m. temporary struts were introduced to tie back the rear leg to the core wall to Hybrid V shape structure 78 3 r d Q u a r t e r 2 0 0 6 . capability and reliability. and at two points along the curving atrium wall.000 per night. The Burj al-Arab features the tallest atrium lobby in the world standing at 180m. complex and challenging project ever undertaken by Eversendai.0 meters radius were used. The structure is a standing example for the quote “Architect’s Dream. A remarkable element of its architecture is the outer beachward steel wall of the atrium.

scaffolds and the three lattice girder trusses were removed from its position and re – erected to the upper portion of the rear braces location to continue the same process of erection to complete the three portions of X rear braces in the building. The Diagonal connects with a 300mm diameter pin connection to the core-wall and the Rear-leg structure. Framework maintain alignment until the Exoskeleton grows to the next point of permanent connection and then connected permanently with the Link Stud weighing about 10 tons to the concrete core. Utmost care was taken to ensure that the measurement length between the core and the exoskeleton rear leg so that the diagonals with pin connection can be connected with ease.A rticle Rear Brace Frame The two cores on the rear side of the building are 40m apart and connected by huge cross bracings of fabricated box sections called the rear braces. The total tonnage of this part alone is 1600 tons. the whole rear brace is in inclined towards the inside of the building. The box sections are assembled and welded at the ground level by the side the building. All the joints are of full penetration welding and inspected by ultrasonic test. The shape of the Rear Brace is similar to “X “are erected in segments. There are six diagonals erected at different levels on both side of the building. The box sections were brought into the site in transportable segments. After all welding. Diagonals The diagonals are of huge tubular triangular truss geometry having the maximum cross section at the middle length and merged as one member at the ends. All exoskeleton are lifted in predetermined angles adjusted by chain blocks. it was spliced into three pieces. There were three Link studs on each side of the building. fixing at three points for the entire length of 273 metre Exoskeleton to the diagonal brace and horizontal brace point and continued erection of the segment only after the erection of diagonals and horizontals and finally connecting to the front legs starting from 208m.2m by 1. Strand jacks supported by Cat heads were connected to the building to execute the lifting of the Diagonals and Horizontals. The cross sections of the boxes are 2. all the temporary platforms. All the joints are of full penetration welding. Platforms were fitted at each joint for welding and other related works Alignment was carried out using electronic digital total station located at three different fixed locations. These diagonals are transported as a single fabricated piece from the fabrication shop 15 km away by special self propelled long trailers. The first piece was about 24m and weighs about 50 tons and was lifted by two tower cranes as a tandem lift and erected between core embedment from one side and the another end rested on the temporary lattice girder trusses running between cores to support the rear brace segmental erection. Front view of Burj Al Arab 79 3 r d Q u a r t e r 2 0 0 6 . This brace ties both the cores together to give stability to the structure. keeping in mind the movement of the structure due to thermal effects which generally develops deflection.4m and made of from 25mm to 40 mm thick plates. The Diagonal vary from 76m to 90m in length and weigh 160 to 180 ton. touch up inspections been carried out. The length of one brace was around 60m in one direction from one side of the bottom embedment to the upper embedment of the other side of the core. which was erected between cores. hooked on to the crane and lifted in segments. all surveying are done very early in the morning to get a more accurate reading. Once these two 24mts braces were erected then the X of 12m length of 52 tons was erected by two tower cranes as tandem lift supported by the second layer of temporary lattice girder truss. These rear braces form as X of three portions for the whole building.

The first segment of the mast was erected after the Exoskeleton was erected on the trusses which run between two Exoskeleton legs in horizontal plane. then it was slide towards the building and placed to its position connected with bolts and welding. All the segments were bolted inside by ring plate flange connections. Sky Restaurant Structure The 350 ton structural steel sky Restaurant was one of the most complex The overall mast was erected in segments of average 30 ton weight matching the tower crane capacity. The restaurant is having a floor size of 70m x 25m. The Horizontals were transported by long special self-propelled trailers to the erection site. two 30m long girders had to be erected at 200m level but the crane did not have the lifting capacity so we had to split the girders into halves and joint up in the air with full penetration welding. They had to be erected between two fixed points so utmost care was taken to measure the length between the core and the exoskeleton rear leg. Once cat heads and strands were removed then the Exoskeleton typical erection sequence was carried out up to its level to the next diagonal and horizontal fixing point and then stopped to continue diagonal and horizontal strand jacking operation.5 x 2m at top. There were manholes at periodic intervals. MBJ 80 3 r d Q u a r t e r 2 0 0 6 . Helipad Structure This structure is at 212m level at the rear side of the building. Finally the third crane was dismantled by derrick crane. only 54m was braced in between Exoskeleton support legs starting from 208m level on the core wall and the balance cantilevers vertically 50m way above the Exoskeleton. One of the highlights is.A Horizontals rticle The horizontal weighting about 200 tons connects the core wall to the exoskeleton rear leg. derrick crane was dismantled manually and lowered from the roof top by winches. The beauty of the restaurant is that it over looks the sea. it was a real challenge and Eversendai took it up and performed beyond everyone’s expectation in a record duration of 40 days. This structure was assembled in one piece in the assembly yard near the project side. The box girders cantilever out for about 30m from the main core wall of the building connected to about 200 tons of embedment. After complete dismantling of tower crane.5m x 5m at the bottom and gradually decreases to 2. through that workers had access to go and come out from the mast to the nearby Exoskeleton temporary scaffolding arrangement. forming an inverted V shape. the other two cranes were dismantled except the crane near to mast. mast is in oval shape of 2. weights about 330 tons made up of steel trusses and 20mm thick plates. Two props of 1m diameter circular steel pipes. All the segments had inside arrangements of permanent ladders and interval platforms to facilitate access and maintenance. Temporary Safety exhaust fans were introduced inside the mast to have air circulation to workers. Horizontal were erected by strand jacking method similar to Diagonals. Before the mast erections coming to end with the use of the tower crane. tapered at 30º to the vertical and tied back to the center core by a 40m long spine truss weighing 120 tons. support the total Helipad structure. using the same cat heads platforms. The and potentially dangerous structures to erect. The total structure is built up on eight cantilevered box sections and two end trusses at 200m above the ground level. Mast The mast is about 104mts long. The strand jacks and the cat head platforms were removed from its position and kept ready for the next cycle of operation. Once the horizontal reached its determined elevation.