Unless you've been living through a total media blackout, you're by now familiar with exterior images of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's Burj Khalifa-a tripartite tower rising more than 160 stories above Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to become the world's tallest building. The more than 3 million square feet inside, meanwhile, have been kept under wraps. SOM associate director Nada Andric spent the last seven years on the completion of the building's public spaces, and they're now ready for their moment in the spotlight.
Despite the colossal scale of the Burj, it breaks down into residential, corporate, and hospitality components posing familiar design problems. Together, the zones create the overriding challenge of circulation. How do you keep vast numbers of people of varying cultures moving through, gracefully? And culture, by the way, adds another layer. Arab references were to be subtly woven in. There was also a need to humanize the scale-biggest is not always best.