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So we have a tall building do we?

As Dubai's Burj Tower opens we compare it with Beetham Tower

Published on January 5th 2010.


So we have a tall building do we?

Here's a chart of how big we aren't.

But would we want a vast Burj tower such as the bankrupt autocracy of Dubai can build through semi-enslaved indentured labour?

The stats are jaw-dropping.The Burj stands some 800 metres (2,625 feet) high with 160 floors and can hold some 12,000 people. It is twice the height of the Empire State Building and 600ft higher than Kinder Scout the tallest peak of the Peak District National Park. Beetham Tower is 169 metres (554ft) high with 47 floors.The Burj tower houses 1,044 luxurious (and expensive) apartments, 37 stories of business/retail space, 160 hotel rooms, a number of swimming pools, a library, valet parking, a cigar club, and a fitness centre.

At its busiest, the site employed 12,000 workers, clocking up 22-million man hours to complete the structure since construction began in 2004. Remember most of these workers are indentured - under contract for a fixed period of time in exchange for transportation, food, clothing and lodging. They live in terrible conditions and earn a pitance with long hours. They're not allowed to go swanning around the finer areas of Dubai of course, and to return home to the Subcontinent, South East Asia and so on they have to buy back their contract with interest. Which they haven't got the money to do. So they work their full term trapped in a half life.

That aside the tower is a stunning technical achievement. The developers have said that 90 per cent of the accommodation on the 200 storeys has already been sold. But they would wouldn't they?So would we want one in Manchester?

Half the Confidential office says no, and half says yes, bring it on. We could put it on that island between the Ship Canal and the Bridgewater Canal on the way to Old Trafford, it would look grand. No idea what we might fill it with though. Snow perhaps? Or maybe make it a detention centre for the bankers who bankrupted the country?

Oddly enough there is a weird sort of Manchester link with the Burj. The architects were Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. This long-lived practice designed the Inland Steel Building in Chicago in the fifties. This in turn impressed GS Hay and Gordon Tait who in Manchester designed the CIS Tower. Confidential hears that Skidmore, Owings and Merrill are far prouder of that connection than over the construction of Burj Tower.

But then again we hear a lot of things.

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20 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Peter RivendellJanuary 5th 2010.

Let there be skyscrapers! The canal island is a fantastic spot crying out for some fantastic bit of development - and all within reach of a handy (if windswept) metrolink stop.

VIVEKJanuary 5th 2010.

sign in

snJanuary 5th 2010.

i quite agree w @those poor workers and their comments, Dubai is built on the back of modern-day slave labour. that said, if Ian Simpson says - purely on aesthetic terms - their tower has no style, then, well, sadly i fear he should look closer to home first.. ...cough.

snJanuary 5th 2010.

or SOM stable even. ahem.

Eddy RheadJanuary 5th 2010.

I believe SMO were project architects on the whole Tracey Island complex so you could well be right Norman.

Burt CodeineJanuary 5th 2010.

Much as I appreciate Beetham's presence in Manchester, aside from certain views well outside of the City (Cheshire...even Derbyshire) I never get the feeling it really 'soars' unlike it's counterparts all over the world. Perhaps (and who knows in this continuing recession) we'll have another genuine proposal for something taller and grander in the city...

Norman FosterJanuary 5th 2010.

Didn't they also design Thunderbird Three? Which then provided the inspiration for the Burj building.

Peter RivendellJanuary 5th 2010.

Let there be skyscrapers! The canal island is a fantastic spot crying out for some fantastic bit of development - and all within reach of a handy (if windswept) metrolink stop.

SauronJanuary 5th 2010.

Was Burj thingy based on my house Baradur from Lord of the Rings?

AnonymousJanuary 5th 2010.

Oh dear, I hope Mr Simpson isn't suffering from skyscaper envy when he sees that graphic lol

Those poor workersJanuary 5th 2010.

If Ian Simpson said that then he's right. The Dubai tower is an advert for an odious regime and unrepresentative government.

Eddy RheadJanuary 5th 2010.

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill also designed the Heinz factory in Wigan - i believe it was this fact that persuaded the developer to choose the firm.

philJanuary 5th 2010.

makes the beetham tower look pretty.

A RealistJanuary 5th 2010.

The architect of the Manchester tower had the gall to say that the Dubai tower had no style, has he looked at his own building?

snJanuary 5th 2010.

P.S. lot of good stuff in the SMO stable. Chicago's Hancock Center is the very model of a lovely, tall tower.

Peter HarrisJanuary 27th 2010.

The Hancock tower is a great place to view Chicago for free from 90 odd storeys up. There is a restaurant and bar just below the top floor observation deck too. You can get a great, old style, Chicago dining experience in the Saloon Steakhouse 50 yards away. I had their signature "bone-in Filet Mignon" magnificent!

Terence TrimbleFebruary 1st 2010.

Beetham Tower is titchy. Let's build some really big towers now we're 0.01% out of recession.

Ali McGowanNovember 18th 2010.

Unfortunately, I love Ian Simpson's erection. The Beetham Tower is ace!

1 Response: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomJuly 20th 2012.

I love it as well. I like the view along Deansgate where it looks like a huge exclamation mark at the end of the street. And when I return to the city it's usually the first thing you see.

Brian VCNovember 18th 2010.

@Ali McGowan. Lucky Ian, mine just get ignored.

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