Foundations and Geotechnical Engineering for the Burj Dubai – World’s Tallest Building

Foundations for the Burj Dubai - The raft slab on top of 192 pile foundations

The soil/rock conditions were generally loose to medium dense sands overlying weak to very week sandstone and siltstone with interbeds of gypsiferous and carbonate cemented layers (still relatively weak). Geotechnical investigations consisted of approximately 33 boreholes drilled with several techniques. In addition to SPT sampling, double-tube rock coring and approximately 60 pressuremeter tests were performed as well as cross-hole seismic surveys (both P and S-wave). Static load testing was performed on 7 test piles prior to construction and 8 production piles (approximately 1% of the piles) were tested as well. One lateral load test was performed. (Photo from


Various finite element software packages were used in the analysis of the foundation system for the structure. The figure above from Poulos & Bunce (2008) shows the interesting layout of the piles as well as contours of the maximum axial load. It indicates that the maximum axial load was in the neighborhood of 37 MN (units?). The static load test program was conducted to a maximum load of 64 MN.

The estimated settlement from the design phase was approximately 75-mm (almost 3-in) but monitoring performed during construction showed only approximately 30-mm (roughly 1.2-in) by March 18, 2007 when approximately 75% of the dead load had been applied.

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  1. hi i m in Mongolia
    i’m civil engineer
    i studying 2008 bacheilor diplom
    now master studying but my diplom name is TALL BUILDING’S FOUNDATION AND GROUND. i CAN’T this diplom because im english language is very bad please please please

  2. what material is used in constructing the piles of burj khalifa? how softwares are used for checking foundations?

  3. what material is used in constructing the piles of burj khalifa? how softwares are used for checking foundations?

  4. This Y shape along with the upward spiraling pattern of setbacks in the wings,
    helped to reduce the wind forces on the tower.

  5. it’s a good job for the engineers…….
    But i wanna know that how does the tower’s upper story balance in high velocity wind ??????????????

  6. it is incredible building as point of view construction.please tell me that who is the structural designer?

  7. Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering Analyais and Design (i.e.Seismic Hazard Zonation, development of Earthquake Design Parmaters, Local Site Effect Analysis, development of design response spectrum, liquefaction hazard analysis, and other related geo-hazard and risk assessment studies)were conducted for Burj Khalifa by Professor Dr Azm Al-Homoud. These fundamental elaborate Studies conducted by Prof Dr Azm Al-Homoud in his capacity as UAE Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering Epxert, were considered milestones for the foundation and structural design of Burj Kahlifa. The conference paper published here by Eng. Poulus fall too short in documenting these important contributations of Professor Dr. Azm Al-Homoud. Similalry, other important studies (e.g Geophysical investigations by Kevin Seyer and Geotechnical Site Investigations of ACES) were not documented by Eng. Poulos too.

  8. to answer lochan, the y shape was chosen so the wind curves around the structure, there is a slight spike at the end of each tower so it cuts through the air. The wind just goes around the burj.

  9. My name is Siraj Ali Aamir; I supervised all the 193 +4 = 197 Tower Piles and 629 Podium Piles construction for this astonishing man made structure in 2004. I was under the supervision of Grane Bunce (Resident Engineer) for the said Burj Khalifa. I am feely proudy by working in such a prestigeous project.

  10. Hi,

    I’m basically civil engg graduate now pursuing the masters in Engg. management, I have read this article which empowers my technical background I would like to know more about the geotechnical background related to the tower which helps to design the system in my course study kindly please provide the same.

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