Tall structures like Dubai’s Burj Khalifa provide remarkable insights about the aspirations of the societies that created them.
Come April, the first tenants may finally be able to move into Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, now the tallest building in the world. Despite a series of setbacks since its ostensible opening two months ago, including the closing of the observation deck, the tower has already prompted an exuberant proliferation of record-breaking statistics: it soars more than half a mile high, stands twice the height of the Empire State Building, boasts views that reach 60 miles, etc. But all the hoopla misses two other symbolic milestones that should enliven the history books. Namely, the Burj Khalifa is primarily residential and its structural frame is reinforced concrete. [...]