An Indian designer behind world’s tallest hotel in Dubai

S. Shanker Mumbai | Updated on March 29, 2013

Dizzy heights: A view of JW Marriott Marquis Dubai

An 87-storey super luxury hotel in Dubai, which soars 355.35 metre into the skies, has made it to the Guinness Book as the tallest hotel in world.

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai spirals over the 333-metre high, 72-storey Rose Rayhaan Hotel by Rotana but falls well short of the 829.8-metre tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

And, standing tall with his ideation is Ashok Korgaonkar, a Mumbai-born architect, whose design and project management made the twin tower hotel a destination for the owners — Emirates Airlines.

From the drawing board in 2006, the building took eight years to complete in end-2012. This was in spite of the recession in 2008 that slowed the progress by over a year.

However, the delay appears to have helped in preventing a cost overrun of the 1,608-room $570-million edifice, with the contractors agreeing for a 15-20 per cent rate cut as prices of cement, steel and other building materials fell that year.

Korgaonkar heads a 150-member team of architects and engineers, whose proficiencies also cover planning, structural and supervision.The hotel has seven podiums, 66 guest, eight service and six intermediate levels. Nineteen restaurants and a 1,000-seat banquet hall are part of the 3.4-lakh sq. ft. towering structure. Over 1,054 parking slots are open for the guests, he said. Korgaonkar, who has spent over three decades in Dubai, was in Mumbai last week.

His India offices at Pune, Mumbai and New Delhi, set up in the last 3-4 years are doing well, he said, but added that the time was not long enough given the pace at which projects move.

Agreeing that architects from the West dominated the scene in Dubai’s ultra luxury projects, he said his firm, Archgroup International, had managed to make a mark to get the call.

“We got our first break from the Emirates Airlines in 1999 when we were called to do a 200-room five-star Meridien hotel for them based on my track record.

“The project was executed within the timeframe and without a cost overrun,” he said.


The twin tower contours are inspired by the date palm — a symbol well entrenched in Arabian culture. They are symmetrically placed on a seven-storey high podium. The podium terrace is landscaped with gardens, swimming pools and a party lawn.

The delicate forms and detailing of the exterior belie the sophisticated engineering that had gone into the construction.

The structural design had undergone rigorous testing and rechecking on computer-generated models and wind tunnel tests, he said.


On challenges, Korgaonkar felt the architecture, design and structure were a non-issue, compared to client specifications and staying within the budget.

“You must understand that it not like here, where we go by slabs, there every single detailing is done before moving onsite. Even the detailing of the aluminium cladding was finalised ahead. Glass from Saint Gobain factory in Chennai went to Shanghai for glazing before reaching Dubai,” he said.

In terms of size, Korgaonkar said the Atlantis also in Dubai follows second.

Though construction is complete, the interiors of the second tower are being worked upon and scheduled for completion in 2014 as work was deferred during the slowdown.


Published on March 29, 2013

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