Some other Muhammad (SOM) The Dubai Chapter

It was great to meet up with some familiar faces – both Eric Tomich and Mohamed Sheriff from my days at SOM Chicago.  I originally started working in that office in 2004 for Burj Dubai and these guys have been on the project ever since.  They are working on-site in Dubai to oversee all construction and any emerging design issues (I’d love to oversee the fabrication of the undulating atrium ceiling) .  They really are the quintessential elements in operation for the realization of this building.  They monitor the work on the ground and problem solve every conflict that comes up during the building phase.  They are the quality control and Eric (another Berkeley Alum, I find out) says so far, they haven’t had to sacrifice any quality during construction.

And of course, it was great to meet Burj.  I stood at it’s base, at the hotel atrium entrance facing Dubai Mall, where most of the construction activity was taking place, my camera unable to capture the height of the building in a single frame.  Mo, basically single-handedly, is redesigning and coordinating the landscaping, it’s multi-tiers, infrastructure, and transitions dominating the construction scene.  The climate was sweltering hot in Dubai when he came out to begin work last year; he still got chills when he saw the tower for the first time.

So much of this project is exactly how I remember it.  Strangely, the real tower looks exactly like the models we built in the office.  I realize that maybe I never truly understood the scale of this project.  Photoshopping people and trees near the building’s base was never an easy assignment and our renderings were always viewed from a further-than-possible perspective or unnatural lens length.   Parts of the building seemed smaller in real life (if you can believe it) and others really were larger (the office annex building grew by at least 3 floors since I worked on it).

Scott Cherney and Dennis Milam (who worked with Branner Alum Beau Trincia at Emergent, it’s a small world) took me through the Burj gallery of latest project renderings and material samples.  Floor 154, the Chairman’s suite, is the tower’s uppermost occupiable floor, although the building has some 164, or so, levels.  The suite measures roughly 25 meters (82 ft) across and is essentially the dimension of the building’s core.  The majority of the plan consists of 3 elevator shafts, 1 service elevator, massive sheer walls, utility and service compartments, and one hollowed-out side for the office and home furnishings of the Chairman.  Of course, his living space is a multi-floor event.

This building, when completed this year, will not fail to amaze.  Even I will have to wait for the observation deck opening (floor 124) to get a new look at Dubai’s (urban) landscape.

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