Site Visit: The challenge of building Nakheel’s spectacular Palm Tower

A visit to Nakheel’s Palm Tower, a $326.6m mixed-use development that aims to become the heart of Palm Jumeirah

Visitors and travellers to Dubai often make a beeline to the Palm Jumeirah, home to some of the city’s finest and most extravagant hotels, including the world-famous Atlantis The Palm Hotel and other internationally recognised hospitality giants. Guests can enjoy their breaks in luxury and style, indulging themselves in the best Dubai has to offer. In addition to the plethora of hotels on the Palm, there are several nightspots and restaurants, making it an attractive destination for both residents and visitors.

However, while the Palm has seen several developments launched along the Crescent and on its fronds, the main trunk of the mega development has only seen major developments in recent years, spurred on by master developer Nakheel launching several high-profile projects along its length. These include The Pointe, Nakheel Mall and the eye-catching Palm Tower, a 52-storey hotel and residential complex that will, along with Nakheel Mall, soon become the hub for the Palm Jumeriah.

Situated at the centre of the trunk, the project was visited by Big Project ME in the wake of a recent announcement by the developer that construction is nearing completion. Comprising 432 luxury residences and a five-star 290-room hotel with a range of dining and leisure facilities, the project is set to become a magnet for both residents and tours.

Among the attractions are a rooftop infinity pool, restaurant and viewing deck, the developer says. Luxury hotel St Regis Dubai – The Palm will occupy the first 18 floors of the building, and the Palm Tower residences will comprise fully furnished studio apartments along with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment that will offer views of the Palm Jumeirah, the Arabian Gulf and the Dubai skyline.

Furthermore, the tower will have direct access to Nakheel Mall, also currently under construction and scheduled to be opened shortly. It will also offer direct access – via bridges and walkways – to Palm Jumeirah’s beach clubs, including Nakheel’s own Club Vista Mare and Palm West Beach projects.

According to the developer, structural work on the tower and the rooftop swimming pool has been completed. Perched 210m above the ground and covering 775sqm, the infinity pool on the 50th floor of The Palm Tower will be one of the highest in the world, holding 930,000 litres of water. It will border four sides of the building and feature panoramic views across the Palm Jumeirah and the Arabian Gulf.

Above the pool will be a podium housing a speciality restaurant on the 51st floor, while the 52nd floor will house a 240m-high public viewing deck. Named the View at The Palm, the observation deck sits on top of the tower and will be accessible from Nakheel Mall. It will feature an interactive museum which the developer says will tell the story behind the making of the man-made island, as well as a VIP lounge and areas for private events, and will have its own elevator access.

Designed by Gensler, the steel structure for the observation deck is currently being constructed. A fit-out contract for the project has been awarded and construction is expected to be completed this year.

For the tower, which has a total project value of $326.6m, glass façade work is currently in progress, with approximately 60% completed. Internal fit-out is also underway in public areas, hotel guest rooms, hotel kitchen areas and apartments, Nakheel says. For the residential apartments, fit-out work is scheduled to be completed by 2020.

However, despite the progress made to date, the Palm Tower has presented Nakheel and its main contractor, Trojan General Contracting, with several challenges during the construction process, the developer points out in a statement to Big Project ME.

“Constructing a 240m tower in an area with limited space [is a challenge]. There are also large numbers of workers on-site – currently 1,500 – who are working in a high-rise environment and are close to a road where there is constant traffic. Furthermore, there are currently two tower cranes in operation on the project; at the peak of construction, there were three tower cranes being used.

“Windy conditions caused by The Palm’s seafront location meant that there can be big challenges when it comes to lifting materials. Careful considerations have to be given to the crane angles,” the developer says, highlighting some of the major issues the project team faces. “[In order to mitigate the dangers of working at height], edge protection and security nets on all floors have been installed to prevent the potential challenge of falling objects.”

Furthermore, Nakheel says the health and safety team at Trojan has a strong presence on-site, with five safety advisors on hand to ensure that all protocols and procedures are followed closely.

“There are specific safety requirements set out by Trakhees for high-rise buildings. These are all being followed on this project. There are also specific health and safety procedures in place for all visitors and workers on the site. Since construction began, there have been zero lost-time injuries,” the developer asserts, adding that there are tight controls in place to monitor noise levels and waste disposal of construction materials.

Given that the project is in such a congested area, another major focus for the project team was ensuring minimal disruption to residents and businesses. To this end, Nakheel says it was keen to work with all stakeholders.

“As with all of our projects, processes are in place to ensure that coordination between contractors and authorities is as effective as possible. We utilised the latest technology approved by the relevant Dubai authorities in the construction of The Palm Tower [to ensure the efficiency and pace of operations].

“We also ensured that residents and other stakeholders were kept informed of the project’s progress and of any inconveniences – such as temporary road diversions – during the construction process. Night shift work has also been minimised and limited to cleaning and housekeeping, so as not to disturb the surrounding properties and areas.”

With anticipation for the project growing, Nakheel is keen to emphasise the impact the project is predicted to have on not just the Palm Jumeirah but on Dubai as a whole, with Aqil Kazim, chief commercial officer at Nakheel, highlighting that the project is a reflection of what the market desires.

“The Palm Tower is a lifestyle project and that is what Dubai wants today; the views are naturally going to be waterfront and that is a unique opportunity we have. It’s important to emphasise that this tower is an iconic address on the island, with a five-star hotel, residential apartments, access to the $330m Nakheel Mall and the beach, all connected by the Palm Monorail,” he says, adding that access to the tower and mall is from multiple points.

“There are also five vehicle accesses and three pedestrian entrances, separate to the monorail which is itself connected to the Dubai Tram, which in turn is linked to the Dubai Metro,” he concludes, emphasising just how the project will connect the island to the rest of Dubai, truly becoming the heart of Palm Jumeirah.

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