BurjSalamThe finishing touches are being applied to a major new Dubai tower complex which has the prestigious address of No.1 Sheikh Zayed Road. Michael Fahy takes a look.

Mazan Hallak, the project manager of Dubai Construction Company (DCC), is clearly proud of the work his company has undertaken at Burj Al Salam on Sheikh Zayed Road since the firm took over the project in September 2010.

“I am completely dedicated to this job, and I can say that DCC has given us really good resources. We have a good team here with us. We have around 75-80 staff managing this process and we are fully-equipped on site.”

Burj Al Salam consists of three towers containing a hotel, offices and serviced apartments which are linked at the base by a large podium. There are four basement levels, a ground floor, mezzanine, two mechanical floors and 54 upper floors.

To the rear of the building is a 14-storey car park topped by a health club for exclusive use by residents of the serviced apartments. It is linked at ground and first floor level for those wishing to access the hotel and offices, and again at 11th floor level for residents.

The project’s location certainly high-profile – its address at Number One Sheikh Zayed Road opposite Dubai World Trade Centre makes it one of the most visible sites in the city. This has meant that DCC’s senior management – including CEO Abdallah Yabrudi and COO Jamal Halwani – have kept a close eye on it.

“The commitment from DCC’s top management to this project is really what has made it successful,” he said.

“They’ve given resources, they’ve given advice and the top management has visited the site on a weekly basis to give support.”

Hallak said that the client – Dubai-based developer Abdulsalam Al Rafi Group – has also kept a watchful eye on the project.

“We are working as a team. The client is very interested in completing this project and is giving the contractor and all of the construction team support by following up on a daily basis.”

DCC took on the project in September 2010 when its basement and six upper floors had already been completed by a previous contractor, Belhasa.

DCC certainly has experience of delivering similar projects – the next group of buildings along Sheikh Zayed Road such as Sama Tower, the Fairmont Hotel, Conrad Hotel and the Chelsea Tower have all been built by DCC, while on the opposite side of the road it has built the World Trade Centre Residences, Capricorn Tower, Rolex Tower and the Bright Start building, among others.

Hallak said that the resources committed meant the superstructure was completed ahead of schedule. The surface area of a floor in each tower is around 4,500m2, and at its peak DCC was completing between four and four and-a-half post-tensioned slabs per month using formwork and scaffolding from Doka.

“If you passed through Sheikh Zayed Road you would see that building really jumping.

“At that time, we had around 1,200 people – with our engineers, foreman and all the site team.

“When we started it was not that fast. But since these were typical floors, people would really get used to doing that work.

“We were casting in three different parts – residential, hotel and office – but it was happening on a daily basis. We had different teams working 24 hours. Each floor was like a cycle.”

The feat was more impressive considering the site’s restrictive location. Given that it fronts Sheikh Zayed Road at its intersection with World Trade Centre roundabout access was an issue. Deliveries were only allowed during evenings and trucks were only granted access to Sheikh Zayed Road between 11pm and 6am – in line with RTA rules.

As a result, concrete pours usually began at around 6pm and would continue through to 2-3am. The amount of concrete required for the building – 218,000m3 – also meant that two separate suppliers were required.

“All of the labourers who were doing this work were all DCC labourers. This was one of the things that took this building up quickly. This was a DCC team, with DCC engineers.”

“If it was a subcontractor it might be difficult to manage. A subcontractor can tell me there are 10 people or 15 people absent today. If my own people are absent, I will bring in another team.”

As a result, the superstructure works were complete on January 31, 2012 – some five months ahead of the scheduled completion date of June 4, 2012.

The project’s logistical challenges have remained, though. The tight site has meant that materials generally cannot be stored on site and have had to be brought in as and when required, which has meant close negotiation with suppliers. Some materials have also been held offsite in DCC stores.

Three tower cranes and three external double-hoists were also being used as well as DCC’s own mobile cranes, but demand for access was such that each of the subcontractors was allocated a time slot for use of the hoists each day.

The site’s six lifts also needed to be commissioned as early as possible, so that the external hoists could be removed in order for cladding to be fitted.

There are now around 2,000 people on site as the project nears its anticipated completion in August this year, with schedules altered slightly to accommodate improvements to the hotel’s design – a five-star Sheraton by Starwood Hotels Group is set to open on site next year.

Among the major subcontractors are ETA Star for the MEP works and Alico for the external cladding. However, Hallak explains that for elements of the fit-out such as tiling, painting and plaster works, the firm has had to package works and split them between several different contractors.

“We had to go to more than one contractor, sometimes reaching three or four subcontractors.

“We needed to do this to expedite the works. And due to the current market, subcontractors do not have enough people nowadays. This gave us a hard time, as we’ve had to manage more subcontractors – in the office in terms of paperwork and on site.”

Hallak said that this hands-on management of the project will continue past the involvement of subcontractors, with its own specialist snagging team set to put the finishing touches to the project.

“A subcontractor cannot do what we are asking them to do,” he said.

“Our team will go in with paint, silicone and timber and do that part to reach the high standards we advised – or we promised – the client that we would deliver.

“This is something that other contractors maybe lack but we as DCC are committed to it. Maybe some people think this is small, but we as DCC take pride in doing this because when you go inside a room and you see small, small things you think that this has been done neatly.

“If you go to all of our projects, you see that this is DCC – whether it is the housekeeping on the project, the cleaning or even our site offices. We spend a little bit more to achieve how we would like it.”

Burj Al Salam in figures:
– Built-up area of tower: 290,143m2
– Area of car park building: 44,695m2
– Offices: 281
– Hotel guest rooms: 477
– Serviced apartments: 180
– Kitchen cabinets installed – 740
– Total tiled area: 210,000m2
– Total marble area: 30,000m2
– Façade glass area: 80,000m2
– Reinforcement used: 40,000 tonnes
– Concrete poured: 218,000m3
– Timber doors: 10,200
– Steel doors: 480

Source: Construction Week Online