When it comes to construction projects, Dubai is a city of superlatives. From the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, to the largest man-made marina, to the most expansive shopping mall, Dubai seems to have one record-setting engineering wonder after another. The city has been developing at an incredible rate, at one point around a quarter of all of the heavy-lift cranes in the world were being used within the city limits, and the city shows no signs of slowing. Many of the envelope-pushing projects that get completed in Dubai go on to become models for advanced engineering projects around the world.
One of Dubai’s newest buildings, ICD Brookfield Place, doesn’t break any records for its size. It is a sleek but rather unassuming 53 story glass office tower. But even though it might not be in any lists for largest or tallest buildings, it is certainly a candidate to be on one for the most technologically advanced. The 990,000 square feet of office space, 160,000 square feet of retail, and 140,000 square feet of communal “green space” all are connected to an intelligent central management platform in a way that lets the building continuously learn from its operations. “This building has a brain, it feels like it is alive,” said Haithem Ibraheem, the head of operations at ICD Brookfield Place.
Connecting every building function into one digital system was a priority for the development team from the start. “We knew the challenges that other high rises have had connecting their systems so we drew out a digital roadmap at the beginning of the project,” Ibraheem said. They enlisted the services of EllisDon, a construction and facilities firm with a unique collaborative process. They helped create the intelligent building technology roadmap for the project but also stayed on to oversee the digital connectivity aspect of the construction. This helped the project stay true to its digital twin and allowed the team to build in redundancies that could be later used to add new technology in the future.
The building will be able to learn about its operations in two ways, explained Ibraheem. “We can compare the building’s current performance to the energy models and see how it is working in real life is different than how it worked on paper,” he said. “We can also look at a building’s performance over time and use that to find ways to optimize processes and enable proactive maintenance.” The data that the building collects is automatically shared with those that need it, a maintenance workforce sent to work on a piece of equipment is provided with all of the manufacturer specs and performance data, for example. ICD Brookfield has chosen Facilio as its property operations platform. “Buildings currently produce huge volumes of data, which is not being leveraged effectively,” said Prabhu Ramachandran, CEO of Facilio. “The key to a holistic operational model is to be able to aggregate all of this data, optimise performance in real-time, and control operations from a single place. As ICDBP welcomes new tenants, we are confident that our collaboration will enrich occupant experience and transform how the building is managed.”
The collaborative nature of both the technology and the management of the building allows them to work with tenants to connect their systems in a way that allows the building to learn about energy consumption at a granular level. “We work with our tenants to make sure that they are able to connect everything to the integrated system and then can utilize that data to help them understand and benchmark their own energy usage and maintenance needs,” said Ibraheem.
ICD Brookfield Place might not be the tallest building in the Dubai skyline but it is one of the most advanced. The integrated systems, future-proofed digital backbone, and AI-powered learning systems required a partnership approach from the design and construction team as well as the management and tenants. Even though the architecture is simple in its form, underneath the surface it is just as much of an engineering marvel as the other world-famous buildings Dubai is known for.