The Philosophy of Engineering for the Burj Khalifa, the World's Tallest Structure

Drexel University
Hill Conference Room
LeBow Engineering Center, Room 240
31st and Market Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Event Details

The Burj Khalifa Tower, formally known as the Burj Dubai, is the world’s tallest manmade structure. The multi-use skyscraper soars to over a half mile high (828 meters, 2717 feet). The 280,000 m2 (3 million square feet) reinforced concrete multi-use Tower is utilized for Retail, a Giorgio Armani Hotel, Residential and Office. The goal of the Burj Khalifa Tower is not simply to be the world’s highest building; it is to embody the world’s highest aspirations.

Designers purposely shaped the structural concrete Burj Dubai – “Y” shape in plan – to reduce the wind forces on the tower, as well as to keep the structure simple and foster constructability. The structural system can be described a “buttressed” core; each wing, with its own high performance concrete core and perimeter columns, buttresses the others via a six-sided central core, or hexagonal hub. The result is a tower that is both efficient and extremely stiff. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the architects and engineers for the project, applied a rigorous geometry to the tower to align all the common central core and column elements.

The presentation will discuss the philosophy behind the structural design of the world’s tallest structure.

The presenter, Larry Novak, is the Chief Structural Engineer for the International Code Council where he promotes building safer communities through Codes.

He has spent the last decade working on the advancement of codes and structural standards, including being a full voting member on ASCE/SEI 7 the Design Load standard and the ACI 318 Structural Concrete Code. Prior to that, for over 20 years he was an Associate Partner with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where he had the privilege to be the Lead Structural Engineer on the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure. Novak was involved in the design of the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain, which was named “one of the top 125 Construction Achievements of the Century” by Engineering News Record.

Novak was selected as the “Citizen Engineer of the Year” by the Illinois Chapter of ASCE, the ACI “Educational Speaker of the Year”; and in 2018, presented with the Structural Engineering Association of Illinois’ lifetime “Service Award” for his contributions to the industry. Novak is the recipient of the 2019 award for “Code Simplification and Implementation” for his work on the new reinforced concrete shear design equations which are simultaneously simpler and more accurate.

In his free time, Larry enjoys presenting exciting interactive presentations to students of all ages, to bring structural concepts to life with the goal to inspire the next generation of young minds to achieve new heights.


Additional Info:

  • Audience: Everyone
  • Special Features: Free Food

Contact Info:

Kim Spina