The Burj Khalifa: Maybe that Spire Hole Is For The Best

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Oh my God! In Chicago, we get bent out of joint because two supertall towers—the Chicago Spire and the Waterview Tower—are unfinished because of the real estate crash. But this section of Dubai, which is called Business Bay, is the crash on a whole different order of magnitude.

Blair Kamin's post on the Burj Khalifa got a lot of deserved attention, but you should read his B-side. The numbers are pretty jaw-dropping: 25%-30% residential vacancy, 40% commercial vacancy. What happened? Guess. "Dubai property prices inflated rapidly, with apartments changing hands — 'flipping', as it came to be known — at an astonishing rate. By the summer of last year, a 'bubble' had developed in UAE property that, all were agreed, had to burst at some time." The Burj Khalifa is profitable, but not necessarily for flippers on the secondary market.

For a well-written dissent (and discussion of the architectural links between Chicago, SOM, and the Burj Khalifa), Stephen Bayley has a good essay: "Vast in size but small in meaning, Burj is a lot more stuff, but less idea."

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