Literature Review Chapter: Compare Two Foundation

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¶ … redefined the Dubai skyline in recent years are the Burj Dubai, reputedly the world's tallest building upon completion, and the Emirates Twin Towers, consisting of a hotel and office complex. Although located in geographically similar areas, the foundation engineering for the two projects involved different testing protocols and regimens as well as different substrata considerations that required different solutions. This study examines these similarities and differences and presents a review of the relevant peer-reviewed, governmental and scholarly literature concerning the foundation projects for these two major building projects. A summary of the research and important findings are presented in the study's concluding chapter.

Table of Contents


Review and Analysis

Background and Overview

Burj Dubai Foundation

Emirates Twin Towers Foundation


Chapter Two:

Literature Review

Background and Overview

Driven by its proven petrochemical reserves, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) emerged in the early 21st century as a burgeoning economic powerhouse in the Arabian Gulf region. Tangible evidence of this growth is the breakneck speed with which numerous major building projects are springing up in one of the emirates, Abu Dubai, where the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai is joining the Emirates Twin Towers and other world-class structures in redefining the city's skyline and international image. In the construction industry, it is axiomatic that a building is only as good as its foundation, and this axiom was taken seriously during the design and development phases of these two projects as described further below.

Burj Dubai Foundation

As the tallest building in the world, Burj Dubai's spiral form is created by three wings arranged around a central core, each of which buttresses the other (Dubai Spire: The Mantle of the World's Tallest Building Will Soon Pass to the Burj Dubai, Now Rising Up over the Gulf 2008, p. 81). Supporting the massive central core and buttresses is a complex foundation consisting of various components, including a podium, raft and bored piles that operate together to support the world's talent building. According to the architectural engineers tasked with the foundation of the building, "The Burj Dubai project in Dubai comprises the construction of an approximately 160-storey high rise tower, with a podium development around the base of the tower, including a 4-6 storey garage. The foundation system is a piled raft, founded on deep deposits of carbonate soils and rocks. It is founded on a 3.7-meter thick raft supported on bored piles, 1.5 meters in diameter, extending approximately 50 meters below the base of the raft" (Poulos & Bunce 2008, p. 1).

Although official statements about the project remain confidential about certain aspects of the building's design, one government's proclamation about the Burj Dubai describes its design as "a city within a city" and as being inspired by "…the cultural and historical influences of the GCC [Gulf Cooperative Council]' [which] is achieved in the tower's base where the "… geometry reflects the six petal desert flower of the region" (Elsheshtawy 2004, p. 183).

The testing protocols and regimens used for the Burj Dubai foundation projects are comparable in some ways, but differ with respect to the unique siting considerations that are involved. For example, with respect to the general region, the Arabian Gulf geology has been heavily influenced by marine sediment depositions as a consequence of a series of shifts in sea level during geological periods of fairly recent origin (Poulos & Bunce 2008). For instance, generally speaking, the UAE is a flat country with few elevations besides the mountainous regions in the northeast, with the site for the Burj Dubai being located in a relatively low-lying area. The rear-surface geology of this region is characterized by heavy deposits from the Quaternary to late Pleistocene ages, deposits that include marine sands, mobile Aeolian dune sands and evaporite deposits (Poulos & Bunce 2008). Other similarities between the foundation projects exist with respect to the general region as well, with Dubai being located near the eastern edge of the geologically stable Arabian Plate but separated from the unstable Iranian Fold Belt situated north of the Arabian Gulf, thereby making the Burj Dubai site situated within a potentially active seismic area (Poulos & Bunce 2008). Nevertheless, the overall stability assessment was favorable, but extensive testing regimens were followed to identify potential weaknesses and areas of special needs. Based on these analyses, the Barj Dubai engineers placed piles for the tower foundation with minimum center-to-center spacing of 2.5 times the pile diameter and tests were conducted based on this configuration to assess vertical and lateral stability based on the assumption that the foundation serves as a block consisting of the piles and soil/rock (Poulos & Bunce 2008). According to the project's engineers, "A factor of safety of just less than 2 was assessed for vertical block movement, excluding base resistance of the block while a factor of safety of greater than 2 was determined for lateral block movement excluding passive resistance. A factor of safety of approximately 5 was obtained against overturning of the block" (Poulos & Bunce 2008, p. 3).

Based on the foregoing potential for seismic activity, engineers for the Burj Dubai also conducted tests to determine the potential for liquefaction during a seismic event at the project site. Although the testing regimens confirmed that the depositions from marine sources and sand extended to 3.5 meters below the site's ground level which possessed the potential to liquefy during a seismic event, the foundations of the podium and tower structures extend below this level and are not regarded as being at risk (Poulos & Bunce 2008). Because so much of the building's infrastructure extends below ground, though, engineers also took these factors into account during the design phase for buried services and the shallow foundation components located within the top 3.5 meters of the ground level at the site and appropriate testing was conducted to determine the potential impact of liquefaction (Poulos & Bunce 2008).

The results of these testing protocols confirmed that there were occasional layers that held the potential to liquefy; however, once again, engineers regarded these potentials as well within acceptable limits, particularly given the other foundation elements that were involved. For example, Poulos and Bunce report that, "Taking into account the imposed confining stresses at the foundation level of the Tower this was considered to have a negligible effect on the design of the Tower foundations. The assessed reduction factor to be applied to the soil strength parameters, in most cases, was found to be equal to 1.0 and hence liquefaction would have a minimal effect upon the design of the Podium foundations" (2008, p. 4). Based on their computer modeling of the site, the foundation project engineers identified the settlement contours for the tower and podium as depicted in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Computed Settlement Contours for Tower and Podium

Source: Poulos & Bunce 2008, p. 5

Ongoing analysis of the tower raft settlement process has been underway since the concreting has been completed, and the stress conditions that exist in the raft have been identified through the placement of strain rosettes at the top and bottom of the raft (Poulos & Bunce 2008). Beyond the foregoing, three pressure cells have also been mounted at the bottom of the raft and five piles have evaluated for strain to identify the precise load distribution between and down the pile; at the latest point, it was projected that approximately three-quarters of the dead load would have been pressing on the building's foundation, but these monitoring estimates do not include the effect of the raft, cladding and live loading which account for about 20% of the building total mass (Poulos & Bunce 2006). Finally, the projected maximum settlement of the tower foundation has been calculated using a variety of analytical tools and the projected settlements of the tower have all been within an acceptable range (Poulos & Bunce 2008).

Emirates Twin Towers Foundation

The Emirates project is a twin tower development is another major initiative situated in Dubai (Poulos & Davids 2005). Initiated during the mid-1990s and intended to create a landmark development, the Emirates Twin Towers project was designed to be at minimum of twice as high as the 149-metre Dubai World Trade Centre (Wong 2001). According to Wong, "The [twin towers'] design concentrates the buildings away from the highway in a central portion of the site. This way the project is distinctly set apart from the standard commercial development and the twin towers are positioned so as to create meaningful visual compositions from every viewpoint" (2001, p. 403).

The Emirates Twin Towers consist of a 356-meter high office tower that contains a gross floor area of 68,000 square meters together with an adjacent 306-meter high 400-room hotel complex (Emirates Twin Towers 2012). The towers are triangular in design and have face dimensions of about 50 to 54 meters (Poulos & Davids 2005). The office tower is the taller of the two and has 52 floors and is 355-meters tall; by contrast, the hotel tower is 305 meters tall… [END OF PREVIEW]

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