The Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building, opened in Dubai in early 2010. However, it’s just now getting its big screen debut (at least in a major American film) through the fourth film in the Mission Impossible franchise. There are no real details on the plot developments that bring in the Khalifa, but Filmfilia says the movie offers thrills: “This is not just another mission. The impossible mission force (IMF) is shut down when it’s implicated in a global terrorist bombing plot. Ghost Protocol is initiated and Ethan Hunt and his rogue new team must go undercover to clear their organization’s name. No help, no contact, off the grid. You have never seen a mission grittier and more intense than this.”
Designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, the 2,732-feet tower is inspired by Islamic architecture. From above, the tower replicates the onion domes of some of the world’s great Islamic buildings. The lead architect of the Burj Khalifa, Adrian Smith, was also said to be inspired by Hymenocallis genus flowers, with their array of spokes. The flower isn’t native to the region though.
The “Y” shaped structure and floor plan create wings, offering lots of views and natural light. Composed of some 4,000 tons of steel, the building is clad in reflective glazing meant to shield the interiors from the desert sun. Within, there’s a 300-room Armani hotel, apartments and business offices, terraces, and observation decks.
SWA Group designed the verdant park featured in Tom Cruise’s acrobatic rapelling scenes. At 27 acres, this massive park was also inspired by the Hymenocollis, with their symetries outlined in landscape form. Apparently, the railings, benches, and signs also incorporate the flower design.
The park itself includes a lake-edge promenade, an island, a forest, outdoor dining areas, and a children’s playspace. “Along Emaar Boulevard, a thoroughfare of luxury shops and cafes, a palm-lined greenway provides shade, water features, and a variety of settings for public gatherings and celebrations,” writes SWA Group.
The landscape is kept alive with condensation from the building. The building consumes 250,000 gallons of water a day (much of which goes into its massive air conditioning system). All that water consumption yields condensation, which is then harvested, drained, and pumped into the landscape’s irrigation systems. SWA says 15 million gallons of condensation is reused by the landscape each year. There are no details on the heavy energy load that must be involved in this system of landscape maintenance.
According to Wikipedia, the entire “Downtown Dubai” project was estimated to cost $20 billion, with $1.5 billion for the Burj Khalifa building and park alone. Then, in part due to its unsustainable building boom and corresponding crash in prices, Dubai had to ask banks and its oil-rich neighbor Abu Dhabi in the U.A.E. for multi-billion dollar bailouts. With the housing crash, rents in the Khalifa have fallen 40 percent from the peak prices, but still some 825 apartments out of 900 are empty. Given the glut of empty Dubai real estate, getting a fully-occupied building and well-populated park may be mission impossible, at least in the near future.