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RE-ASSESSMENT OF FOUNDATION SETTLEMENTS FOR THE BURJ

KHALIFA, DUBAI
Gianpiero Russo1
Harry G. Poulos2
John C. Small3

ABSTRACT: This paper deals with the re-assessment of foundation settlements for the Burj
Khalifa Tower in Dubai. The foundation system for the tower is a piled raft, founded on deep
deposits of calcareous rocks. Two computer programs, GARP and NAPRA have been used for the
settlement analyses, and the paper outlines the procedure adopted to re-assess the foundation
settlements, based on a careful interpretation of load tests on trial piles in which the interaction
effects of the pile test setup are allowed for. It then examines the influence of a series of factors on
the computed settlements. In order to obtain reasonable estimates of differential settlements within
the system, it is found desirable to incorporate the effects of the superstructure stiffness which act to
increase the stiffness of the overall foundation system. Values of average and differential
settlements for the piled raft calculated with GARP and NAPRA were found to be in reasonable
agreement with measured data on settlements taken near the end of construction of the tower.
Key words: case history, footings and foundations, full-scale tests, piles, rafts, settlement.
s 730
INTRODUCTION
The Burj Khalifa in Dubai was officially opened in January 2010, and at a height
of 828m, is currently the worlds tallest building. The foundation system is a
piled raft, a form of foundation that is being used increasingly to support tall
structures where the loads are expected to be excessively large for a raft alone
and where the raft and the piles are able to transfer load to the soil. The
foundation design process for this building has been described by Poulos and
Bunce (2008).
An important component of the design of a piled raft foundation is the detailed
assessment of the settlement and differential settlement of the foundation
system, and their control by optimizing the size, location and arrangement of
the piles, and the raft thickness. Many different methods of analysis have been
devised in order to predict the behaviour of raft and piled raft foundations
(Selvaduri, 1979; Clancy and Randolph, 1993; Poulos, 1994; Ta and Small,
1996; Russo and Viggiani, 1998; Viggiani, 1998; Hemsley, 1998; Hemsley,
2000), and these range from simple hand based methods to complex threedimensional numerical analyses.
In this paper, attention is focussed on two methods that model the raft as an
elastic plate and the piles as interacting non-linear springs. The computer
codes implementing these methods are described very briefly and are then
applied to the Burj Khalifa, currently the worlds tallest building, which is
founded on a piled raft. The development of the ground modulus values is
described using a combination of field test and laboratory data and the results
of pile load tests. The method of interpreting the pile load test data is
1 University of Naples, Italy
2 Coffey Geotechnics, Sydney, Australia
3 Coffey Geotechnics and University of Sydney
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discussed, and the importance of allowing for interaction between the test pile
and the surrounding reaction piles in emphasised. The two programs are then
used to compare the computed settlements with available measurements of
foundation settlements, and with the Class A predictions made by the
foundation designers and the peer reviewers.
An important objective of the paper is to explore how pile load test data should
be used when predicting the settlement performance of piled and piled raft
foundation systems, and to examine some factors that may have an important
influence on predicted foundation settlements.
COMPUTER ANALYSES
The settlement analyses used in this paper for the Burj Khalifa have employed
two computer programs, GARP and NAPRA, which idealize the piled raft
foundation as a plate supported by non-linear interacting springs. A very brief
description of these programs is given below.
Program GARP
The computer program GARP (Geotechnical Analysis of Raft with Piles, Small
and Poulos, 2007) uses a simplified boundary element analysis to compute the
behaviour of a piled raft when subjected to applied vertical loading, moment
loading, and free-field vertical soil movements.
The raft is represented by a thin elastic plate and is discretized via the finite
element method, using 8- noded elements. The soil is modelled as a layered
elastic continuum, and the piles are represented by elasticplastic or hyperbolic
springs, which can interact with each other and with the raft. Pilepile
interactions are incorporated via interaction factors (Poulos and Davis, 1980).
Simplifying approximations are utilized for the raft-pile and pile-raft
interactions. Beneath the raft, limiting values of contact pressure in
compression and tension can be specified so that some allowance can be made
for nonlinear raft behaviour. The output of GARP includes the settlement at all
nodes of the raft; the transverse, longitudinal, and torsional bending moments
within each element of the raft; the contact pressures below the raft; and the
vertical loads on each pile. In its present form, GARP can consider vertical and
moment loadings, but not lateral loadings or torsion.
Program NAPRA
The computer program NAPRA (Non linear Analysis of Piled Rafts, Russo 1998; Russo &
Viggiani, 1998) computes the behaviour of a raft subjected to any combination of vertical
distributed or concentrated loading and moment loading. The raft is modelled as a two-dimensional
elastic body using the thin plate theory, and utilizing the finite element method, adopting a four or
nine noded rectangular element.
The piles and the soil are modelled by means of interacting linear or non-linear springs. It is
assumed that the interaction between the raft and the soil (the piles) is purely vertical; accordingly,
only the axial stiffness of the springs is required.

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The soil is assumed to be a layered elastic continuum. The Boussinesq solution for a point load and
the closed form solution for a rectangular uniformly loaded area at the surface of an elastic halfspace are used to calculate the soil displacements produced by the contact pressure developed at the
interface between the raft and the soil. The layered continuum is solved by means of the
Steinbrenner approximation (Russo, 1998; De Sanctis and Russo, 2002), and as such, invokes the
simple assumption that the stress distribution within an elastic layer is identical with the Boussinesq
distribution for a homogeneous half-space (Russo, 1998).
The interaction factor method is used to model pile to pile interaction and a preliminary boundary
element (BEM) analysis allows calculation of the interaction factors between two piles at various
spacings. Interaction between axially loaded piles beneath the raft and the raft elements is
accounted for via pile-soil interaction factors computed with a preliminary BEM procedure. The
reciprocal theorem is used to maintain that the soil-pile interaction factor is equal to the pile-soil
interaction factor.
A stepwise incremental procedure is used to simulate the non-linear load-settlement relationship of
a single pile, the total load to be applied is subdivided into a number of increments, and the diagonal
terms of the pile-soil flexibility matrix are updated at each step. A computation of the nodal
reactions vector is made at each step, to check for tensile forces between raft and soil and an
iterative procedure is used to make them equal to zero. Basically, this procedure releases the
compatibility of displacements between the raft and the pile-soil system in the node where tensile
forces were detected, although the overall equilibrium is maintained by a re-distribution of forces.
An iterative procedure is needed since after the first run some additional tensile forces may arise in
different nodes. The output of the code is represented by the distribution of the nodal displacements
of the raft and the pile-soil system, the load sharing among the piles and the raft, the bending
moments and the shear in the raft, for each load increment.
Abagnara et al (2011) have compared GARP and NAPRA analyses for a simple
case, and have concluded that both programs give comparable results, but that
some of the simplifying assumptions employed in each program give rise to
differences in detail. For example, the difference in raft settlements may be
due to the differences in the details of calculation of the soil layer stiffness
using the Boussinesq/Steinbrenner approach. The difference in plate element
types may also contribute to the differences. For the piled raft, the differences
may arise because of differences in the methods used to compute the single
pile stiffness values, the interaction factors and the pile-raft and raft-pile
interactions.
In this paper, attention will be focussed on analyses carried out with NAPRA,
although a comparison will also be presented between the GARP and NAPRA
analyses.

SETTLEMENT ASSESSMENT FOR THE BURJ KHALIFA TOWER, DUBAI


Foundation layout
The Burj Khalifa project in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), comprises a 160 storey high rise
tower, with a podium development around the base of the tower, including a 4-6 storey garage. The
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Burj Khalifa is located on a 42000 m 2 site. The tower is founded on a 3.7m thick raft supported on
194 bored piles, 1.5 m in diameter, extending 47.45m below the base of the raft; podium structures
are founded on a 0.65 m thick raft (increased to 1m at column locations) supported on 750
bored piles, 0.9 m in diameter, extending 30-35 m below the base of the raft. A plan view of
foundation is shown in Fig. 1.

Figure 1. plan view of the Khalifa Tower foundation system


Ground investigation and site characterization
The investigations involved the drilling of 32 boreholes to a maximum depth of about 90 m below
ground level and 1 borehole to a depth of 140 m under the tower footprint. Standpipe piezometers
were installed to measure the ground water level which was found to be relatively close to the
ground surface, typically at a level of 2.5m DMD. The ranges of measured SPT N values are
summarised in Table 2. There was a tendency for N values to increase with depth, beyond an
elevation of about -8m DMD.
Table 2Summary of Measured SPT Values
Elevation m
2.5 to -1
-1 to -8
-8 to -14
-14 to -30
-30 to -40
-40 to -80

Range of SPT Values


0-40
50-400
0-100
40-200
100-200
100-400

The ground conditions at the site comprise a horizontally stratified subsurface profile which is
complex and highly variable in terms of the strata thickness due to the nature of deposition and the
prevalent hot arid climatic conditions. The main strata identified were as follows
1. Very loose to medium dense silty sand (Marine Deposits).
2. Weak to moderately weak calcarenite, generally unweathered with fractures close to medium
spaced interbedded with cemented sand. This material is generally underlain by very weak to
4

11 July 2011

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

weak sandstone which is generally unweathered with fractures close to medium spaced
interbedded with cemented sand.
Very weak to weak calcarenite, calcareous sandstone and sandstone; this formation is slightly to
highly weathered with fractures extremely close to closely spaced and interbedded with
cemented sand. Bands of 1 to 5 m thickness are also present of medium dense to very dense,
cemented, sand with sandstone bands and locally with bands of silt.
Very weak to weak gypsiferous sandstone, gypsiferous calcareous sandstone occasionally
gypsiferous siltstone. This material is generally unweathered to slightly weathered with
fractures extremely close to closely spaced and interbedded with cemented sand. The formation
is interbedded with dense to very dense, cemented, silty sand and occasionally silt with
sandstone bands.
Very weak to weak calcisiltite, conglomeritic calcisiltite and calcareous calcisiltite. This
material is generally moderately to highly weathered, occasionally slightly and completely
weathered with fractures extremely close to medium spaced. Calcareous siltstone was
encountered in the majority of the deeper boreholes comprising very weak to weak occasionally
moderately weak calcareous siltstone in bands with a thickness of 0.5 to 14.4 m generally
slightly to moderately weathered occasionally highly to extremely weathered.
Very weak to weak and occasionally moderately weak calcareous siltstone, calcareous
conglomerate, conglomeritic sandstone and limestone. This material is generally slightly
weathered and occasionally unweathered and moderately weathered to highly weathered.
Occasionally encountered as calcisiltite interbedded with bands of siltstone and conglomerate.
Very weak to moderately weak claystone interbedded with siltstone. This material is generally
slightly weathered with close to medium spaced fractures. Between -112.2 m and -128.2 m
occasional bands of up to 500 mm thick gypsum were encountered. Below -128.2 m the stratum
was encountered as weak to moderately weak siltstone with medium to widely spaced fractures.

Table 3 summarizes the stratigraphy adopted for the foundation settlement analyses.
In situ and laboratory test results
A comprehensive series of in situ tests was carried out, including
pressuremeter tests, down-hole seismic, cross-hole seismic, and cross-hole tomography to
determine compression (P) and shear (S) wave velocities through the ground profile. The vertical
profile of P-wave velocity with depth gave a useful indication of variations in the nature of the
strata between the borelogs.
Conventional laboratory classification tests (moisture content of soil and rock,
Atterberg limits, particle size distribution and hydrometer) and laboratory tests
for determining physical properties (porosity tests, intact dry density, specific
gravity, particle density) and chemical properties were carried out. In addition,
unconfined compression tests, point load index tests, and drained direct shear
tests were carried out. A considerable amount of more advanced laboratory
testing was undertaken, including stress path triaxial tests, resonant column
testing for small-strain shear modulus, undrained cyclic triaxial tests, cyclic
simple shear, and constant normal stiffness (CNS) direct shear tests.
Table 3. Stratigraphic model adopted for settlement assessment.
Stratu
m

Description

Level at the
top
of the stratum

Thickness

Adopted
Level at
top of

UCS
qu

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[m DMD]
1.15 to 2.96

1.85 to 4.3

layer
[m
DMD]
2.5

-0.27 to -1.95

2.87 to 10.75

-1.2

-4.13 to -12.06

10.5 to 21.43

-7.3
-13.5

-21.54 to
-26.69

1.7 to 7.75

-24

-28.5

1.3

-27.64 to
-31.15

39.2 to 46.75
-50

1.7

-68.5

2.5

-90

[m]
1
2
3a
3b
4
5a
5b
6

Marine
deposits
Calcarenite/
Calcareous
sandstone
Calcareous
sandstone/
Sandstone
Gypsiferous
sandstone
Calcisiltite/
Conglomeriti
c calcisiltite
Calcareous
siltstone
Calcareous/
Conglomeriti
c Strata
Claystone/
Siltstone
interbedded
with gypsum
layers

-67.19 to
-76.04
-98.19

31 (from 140m
deep BH only)
Proved to 39.6
m thickness

[MPa
]

Some of the relevant findings from the in situ and laboratory testing are as follows:
i.
ii.

iii.
iv.
v.

The cemented materials were generally very weak to weak; unconfined compressive
strength (UCS) values ranged mostly between about 0.16 MPa the average values for each
layer being the ones reported in the table 3.
Values of the Youngs Modulus from pressuremeter tests (first and second reload cycle) were
found to be in good agreement with values from correlation with shear waves velocities.
From calcarenite (0 m to -7.5 m) to sandstone (-7.5 m to -24 m) Youngs Modulus is
approximately constant with depth; at greater depths the average values decrease in the
gypsiferous sandstone (-24 to -28.5 m) then they slightly increase in the calcisiltite (from
-28.5 to -68.5 m) and finally decrease in the siltstone (from -68.5 to -91 m).
Triaxial Stress Path Testing (at strain levels of 0.01% and 0.1%) was found to give results
for Youngs modulus that were in good agreement with pressuremeter and geophysics
testing results.
Resonant Column Testing was found to give more conservative values for the Youngs
Modulus when compared with values from pressuremeter tests, geophysics tests and triaxial
stress tests.
Constant normal stiffness (CNS) tests were carried out on three samples taken from stratum
5a to assess the ultimate skin friction values and the potential for cyclic degradation at the
pile-soil interface. These tests indicated values of peak monotonic shear stress ranging from
360 to 558 kPa, with only a little difference between the peak monotonic and the residual
cyclic shear stress values.

Geotechnical Model

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The key parameters for the assessment of the settlement behaviour of the Khalifa Tower piled raft
foundation system are the values of the Youngs modulus of the strata for both raft and pile
behaviour under static loading. In a non-linear analysis, the values of ultimate skin friction of piles,
the ultimate end-bearing resistance of the piles, and the ultimate bearing capacity of the raft would
also be required, but in this paper, only linear elastic analyses have been undertaken using NAPRA
and GARP analyses, having explored the little influence of non linearity up to the maximum
observed load level. Attention has thus been focussed on evaluating relevant values of Youngs
modulus for each stratum.
As a first step in obtaining these values, the relative stiffness of the various soil layers was assessed
considering values of the Youngs Modulus from the following data:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Pressuremeter tests (initial loading, first reload, second reload cycles);


Geophysics tests (correlation with shear wave velocities);
Resonant column tests (Initial, 0.0001%, 0.001%, 0.01% strain levels);
Triaxial Stress Path Tests (0.01% and 0.1% strain levels);

Values of the various Youngs Modulus values are plotted in Fig. 2, and although inevitable
scatter exists among the different values, there is a reasonably consistent general pattern of
variation with depth.
Layer 3b (see Table 3) has arbitrarily been chosen as the reference layer, and for each type of
test, values of the Youngs Modulus for a layer i, E i, have been related to the value for layer 3b,
E3b. The values of Ei/E3b have then been averaged, using the following data: reload cycles from
pressuremeter testing; seismic data; resonant column data at a strain level of 0.01%, and the
triaxial stress path tests. Fig. 3 shows the different assessed relative stiffness profiles so
obtained, and Table 4 summarises the average values of relative Youngs modulus that were
adopted for the analyses and the interpretation of the pile load test data. The absolute values of
Youngs modulus for each of the different layers have been then obtained by fitting the load
settlement curves of the single piles obtained from the load tests, and the process of fitting the
load-settlement curves to obtain the Youngs modulus values is described below.
Table 4. Relative Values of Youngs Modulus Used in Pile Load Test Interpretation

Stratum

Youngs Modulus, Relative to Value for Layer 3b

2
3a
3b
3c
4
5a
5b
6

2.3
0.6
1.0
1.0
0.8
0.7
0.8
0.7

11 July 2011

Fig. 2. Summary of Youngs modulus values.

Fig. 3. Assessed soil relative stiffness.


Pile Load Tests
A program of pile load testing was undertaken which involved the installation of
seven test piles in the podium area near the location of the Khalifa Tower. All the
test piles and reaction piles were bored cast in-situ and constructed under polymer fluid. A
permanent casing, 6m long, was installed from the top of each pile to just above the highest strain
gauge level for all the trial piles tested in compression and tension. Five piles, designated as P1, P2,
P3, P4 and P5, were tested in compression; two, P3 and P5, were shaft grouted. Test pile P6 was
tested in tension and test pile P7 was laterally loaded.
Only the compression load tests on trial piles P1, P2 and P4 have been considered for the present
paper. Table 5 summarizes the main features of these piles. Figure 4a shows the load test
arrangements for piles P1 and P2, which consisted of the test pile and six reaction piles, while
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Figure 4b shows the set-up for pile P4, which consisted of the test pile and four reaction piles. Steel
load distribution plates were grouted to the top of the test piles and hydraulic jacks were placed
between the steel plates and the reaction beams. Steel reaction beams were used to transfer the load
from the hydraulic jacks to the installed reaction piles. Macalloy bars were used as reaction anchors
to transfer the load from the beams to the reaction piles. Six cycles of loading were applied to trial
piles P1 and P2 while nine cycles of loading were applied to trial pile P4, which was the pile
designated to be tested cyclically.
Table 5. Summary of pile load tests.
Trial
Pile

Diam
.

Cut-off
level
[m DMD]

Toe
level
[m DMD]

Length

Load Test
layout

DWL
*

DML*
*

No. of cycles

[t]

[t]

3000

6000

6
(50%-150% DWL)

3000

6000

6
(50%-150% DWL)

1000

3500

9
(100%-150%
DWL)

[m]

[m]
1

1.5

-4.85

-50

45.15

1.5

-4.85

-60

55.15

0.9

-2.90

-50

47.1

6 RP
circle with a
4.5 m radius
6 RP
circle with a
4.5m radius
4 RP
square with a
9 m side

*designated working load;** designated maximum test load.


Four main types of instrumentation were used in the compression test piles:
1. Concrete embedment vibrating wire strain gauges, to allow measurement
of axial strains at six levels along the pile shafts and hence estimation of
the axial load distribution;
2. Extensometers, to measure change in length of the piles, and installed at
the same levels as the vibrating wire strain gauges to provide back-up
information on axial load distribution with depth;
3. Displacement transducers at the top of piles, to measure the vertical
movement at the pile heads.
4. Load cells, to monitor the load applied to the pile via the jacks.
Back-Analysis interpretation of load tests to obtain Youngs Modulus Values
The computer program NAPRA was used to carry out the back-analyses of
compression tests on the three test piles considered. Since a detailed soil
profile at each trial pile location was not available, the same geotechnical
model was adopted for all three piles.
For comparison purposes the three load tests were back-analysed both taking and not taking into
account interaction between test piles and reaction piles. It is now well-recognised that ignoring
interaction between the test pile and the reaction piles can lead to an overestimation of the pile head
stiffness (Poulos & Davis, 1980; Poulos, 2000; Kitiyodom et al., 2004).
Both linear elastic (LE) and non-linear analyses (NL) were carried out. In all analyses,
Youngs modulus for the piles, Ep, was assumed to be 31.8 GPa. For the linear
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analyses, the theoretical behaviour was fitted to the observed load-settlement behaviour at pile head
displacements of about 0.08% of diameter and 0.2 % of diameter.
In the non-linear analyses, in order to assess the sensitivity of the back-calculated
values of soil stiffness to the value of ultimate capacity, Q lim, three different
values were adopted in the analyses:
1) Qlim was estimated as the asymptote to a hyperbola fitted to the whole measured
load-settlement curve (HYP);
2) Qlim was based on the load transfer deduced by strain gauges readings (SG);
3) Qlim was based on the load transfer deduced by extensometer readings (EX).
Ultimate skin friction values inferred from the axial load distribution and from the extensometer
readings were employed to assess pile shaft capacity up to depths above -30m, -38m and -30m for
piles P1, P2 and P4 respectively. From pilesoil interface load-strain curves at various depths along
the shafts, these values were found to be representative of the ultimate values in the upper (cased)
part of the shaft. Below these depths, ultimate values of shaft friction were estimated from
correlations with the unconfined compressive strength (UCS) of the rock.
Table 6 summarises the values of Qlim obtained from these three procedures. As might be expected,
the hyperbolic extrapolation procedure gives the largest values, and probably over-estimates the
capacity. There is some difference between the values assessed on the basis of the strain gauge and
extensometer readings, but from the point of view of settlement prediction, such differences are not
very significant.
Figures 5 and 6 show typical fits (for Pile P2) of the computed non-linear load-settlement behaviour
and the observed load-settlement behaviour. Figure 5 is for the interpretation taking account of
interaction, while Figure 6 shows the corresponding fit with interaction between the test pile and
reaction piles being ignored. In both cases, very reasonable fits are obtained with the measured data.
Table 6. Assessed pile capacity with different methods.
Qlim
[kN]
Strain Gauge
Readings
(SG)

Pile

Hyperbolic Extrapolation
(HYP)

TP1

108,800

93,800

73,200

TP2

115,900

97,300

100,200

TP4

82,600

50,500

59,900

10

Extensometer Readings
(EX)

11 July 2011

(a) Piles P1 and P2.

(b) Pile P4

Fig. 4 Set-up for pile load tests

Fig. 5 Predicted and measured loadsettlement


measured loadsettlement
for pile P2(interaction considered).
ignored).

Fig. 6 Predicted and


for pile P2 (interaction

Back-calculated values of the Youngs Modulus for stratum 3b, E 3b, are reported
in Table 7. In the linear elastic analyses the first point on the measured loadsettlement curve has been considered. In this way back-calculated values of
soil stiffness in linear analyses are affected by the loading procedure adopted
in the load tests. In the cases of piles P2 and P4, values of back-calculated soil
stiffness are in close agreement with values back-calculated in the non linear
analysis (values of w/D are 0.0008 - 0.0009) while in the case of pile P1, the
first point is at a higher displacement (0.21%), and so the back-calculated
value is lower. It should be noted that had the interaction between the test pile
and the reaction piles not been taken into account, the back-calculated values
of pile-soil relative stiffness would have been considerably larger.
Table 7. Youngs Modulus values derived from load tests.
TEST
PILE

E3b [MPa] with interaction accounted for

P1
P2

11

E3b [MPa] with interaction not accounted for

Linear Analysis
(w/D=0.0008)

Linear Analysis
(w/D=0.002)

Non-linear Analysis

Linear Analysis
(w/D=0.0008)

Non-linear Analysis

350

650 (HYP)-850 (SG)

900 (HYP)-1100 (SG)

700

650

1000 (HYP)-1200 (SGEX)

1200

1500 (HYP)-1700 (SGEX)

11 July 2011

P4

850

550

650(EX)-850(SG)

1100

850(EX)-1100(SG)

Notes: HYP denotes values derived from hyperbolic extrapolation


EX denotes values derived from extensometer readings
SG denotes values derived via strain gauges

From Table 7, the following points can be noted:


1. The consideration of interaction between the test pile and the reaction piles results in
backfigured modulus values which are considerably less than those for which interaction has
been ignored. Thus, there would be a tendency to under-estimate foundation settlements if
interaction effects are ignored.
2. The back-calculated values from the three tests are scattered.
In order to partially overcome the described limitation in the back-analysis of load tests, and to
show its effects on the average settlement assessment, sensitivity analyses have been carried out
with NAPRA by adopting two different values of soil stiffness assessed to be
representative of lower and upper bound values.
In the GARP and NAPRA analyses described below, for the assessment of the average and
differential settlements, the values of E3b shown in Table 8 were adopted, on the basis of the nonlinear analysis of the load test results.
Table 8. Values of Youngs Modulus (E3b) of Layer 3b Adopted for Foundation Analyses
Case
Reaction pile
interaction considered
Reaction pile
interaction ignored

Youngs Modulus of Layer 3b (E3b) MPa


Best Estimate
Upper Bound Value
Lower Bound Value
900

1000

650

1200

1500

900

PROCEDURE FOR FOUNDATION SETTLEMENT RE-ASSESSMENT


The majority of the foundation settlement re-assessment was carried out using
linear elastic analyses with the computer program NAPRA. The mesh adopted
for the NAPRA analyses is shown in Figure 7, and in this mesh, the columns were
spaced 1.7 m apart. Preliminary analyses indicated that using a finer mesh than this produced no
change in the results. The actual shape of the raft was modelled by adopting a piecewise
approximation.
Only long-term conditions have been considered, and for the majority of the early analyses, an
average load per pile of 23.21 MN has been used (this is representative of the design dead plus live
loading) and has been applied as a point load on each of the 194 piles. This load corresponds to a
uniformly distributed load on the tower raft of about 1250 kPa.
The majority of analyses were undertaken using the best-estimate modulus value of 900 MPa
derived from the proper interpretation of the load test data (see Table 8).
A series of sensitivity analyses was undertaken to examine the following issues:
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1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

The influence of non-linear pile response;


The influence of the range of back-figured values of Youngs modulus;
The influence of using correct and incorrect back-figured values of Youngs modulus;
The effect of not considering the raft in the foundation settlement analysis;
The differences between analyses using NAPRA and GARP;
The influence of the assumed loading pattern;
The effect of incorporating the stiffness of the superstructure;
The effect of including the podium loading.

The results of these sensitivity studies are described below.

Fig.7 Model adopted in NAPRA analyses


RESULTS OF SENSITIVITY STUDIES
Influence of Non-Linear Pile Response
For the non-linear NAPRA analyses, the ultimate axial capacity of each pile has been assumed to be
112.5MN. Table 9 compares the computed maximum (S max) and central settlements (S centre),
and the maximum differential settlement (DS max), from the linear and non-linear analyses. There
is very little difference between the two analyses in this case, as it could be expected being the
global safety factor on each pile in the range 3 to 5. Thus the comparison indicates that the
foundation response is essentially elastic under the dead plus live loadings. Accordingly, only linear
analyses have been employed for the remainder of the sensitivity studies.
Table 9. Computed Settlements (mm) from Linear and Non-Linear Analyses
Linear Analysis
S max
S centre
DS max
52
51
27

Non-Linear Analysis
S max
S centre
DS max
53
53
27

The influence of the range of back-figured values of Youngs modulus


Table 10 summarises the computed settlements from the NAPRA analysis, using the range of values
of Youngs modulus back-figured from the correct interpretation of the pile load tests (see Table 8).
As would be expected, the computed settlement for the lower-bound modulus value is considerably
greater than that for the upper-bound modulus value, although the ratio of the computed settlement
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values is less than the ratio of the modulus values. This may be explained by the non linearity
source provided by the iterative check on the tensile forces at the raft-soil interface.

Table 10. Influence of Using Upper and Lower Bounds of Backfigured Modulus Values
Modulus Value for Layer 3b

S max

S centre

DS max

Lower bound (E3b= 650 MPa)

81

68

50

Upper bound (E3b=1000 MPa)

56

46

35

The influence of using correct and incorrect back-figured values of Youngs modulus
Table 11 shows the influence on the computed settlements of using the best-estimate modulus
values for Layer 3b obtained from the correct interpretation (considering test pile-reaction pile
interaction) and the incorrect interpretation (ignoring this interaction). The settlements computed
using the incorrect modulus interpretation are about 21% less than those using the correct
interpretation, and it is therefore important to properly interpret the test pile load-settlement data to
avoid the tendency to under-estimate the foundation settlements and differential settlements.
Table 11. Influence of Modulus Value on Computed Settlements
Computed Settlements mm
Modulus Value Used

Correct Interpretation
E3b= 900 MPa
Incorrect Interpretation
E3b=1200 MPa

S max

S centre

DS max

52

51

27

41

40

22

Effect of Not Considering the Raft in the Analysis


NAPRA has been used to analyse the foundation system, both as a piled raft, and as a pile group in
which there is no raft joining the piles. The correct best-estimate modulus of Layer 3b of 900
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MPa has been used. Table 12 shows the computed settlements for both these cases. The difference
between the computed central settlements is negligible, but there is a considerable difference
between the computed maximum settlements and differential settlements. In this case, the
conservatism introduced by ignoring the raft would lead to a 17% increase in the computed
maximum settlement but a 40% increase in the maximum differential settlement. Therefore it is
desirable to incorporate the effect of the raft when computing the settlement distribution within the
foundation system.

Table 12. Influence of Ignoring Pile Cap on Computed Settlements


Case Analysed
S max

Computed Settlements mm
S centre

DS max

61

51

38

52

51

27

Pile Group (no raft)


Piled Raft

Analyses Using NAPRA and GARP


Similar meshes have been used for both the NAPRA and GARP analyses and identical analysis
assumptions have been made in both cases. Figure 8 shows the computed profile of settlement along
Wing C from both analyses, and reveals that they are almost identical. Thus, pleasingly, for the
same input, each program is capable of giving very similar results.

Figure 8 Calculated settlements along wing C from NAPRA and GARP


The Influence of the Loading Pattern

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The preceding results have all been obtained assuming that the average design load (23.21 MN) has
been applied to each pile location. In reality, the loads will be applied via wall and column
locations, and consequently, NAPRA has been used to examine the influence of the loading pattern
on the computed settlement profile for two cases:
a. Equal loads on all the piles;
b. The actual design loadings are applied at the wall and column locations.
The computed settlement profiles along Wing C in Figure 9 show a difference in the computed
settlement patterns, with the equal load assumption giving smaller maximum settlement than the
other case. Thus, it would appear desirable to employ the actual load pattern in design calculations.

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

0
10
20
30
w [mm]

40
Average pile loads applied
50

Loads applied at w all & column locations

60
70
80
d [m]

Figure 9 Influence of Assumed Loading Pattern on Computed Settlement Profile


The Influence of the Podium Structure on the Tower Settlement
The podium structure was assumed to be founded at the same depth of the tower raft, but the two
rafts were assumed to be unconnected. The length of the podium piles was taken to be 30m, and the
columns and rows in the NAPRA mesh were spaced at 3m up to a distance of 30 diameters and 4 m
at larger distances. An average load per pile of 23.21 MN was applied as a point load on each of the
194 tower piles while the loads acting on the low-rise area were modelled as point loads of between
2 and 8 MN acting on the podium piles, depending on their location.
The maximum computed settlement was 54mm which was only 2mm larger than the value
computed for the tower only. The effect of the 750 piles of the podium was thus very small in this
case, primarily because of the significant distance of many of the podium piles from the tower, and
the relatively small loads that they carried.
The Influence of Superstructure Stiffness
In order to investigate the effect on the computed settlement and differential settlement, and to try
and obtain a more accurate estimate of the pattern of settlement, the stiffening effect exerted by the
superstructure on the raft was taken into account, in various ways, by increasing the bending
stiffness of the raft in each wing (estimated by the structural designers to be equivalent to an
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increase of 25200 kNm2 per wing). Six alternative methods of incorporating this increased bending
stiffness were adopted:
a. Increasing the thickness of the whole raft to reflect the bending stiffness of the entire tower
(Model 1).
b. Increasing the raft thickness over the central part of the wings and on the core, as shown in
Figure 10, to reflect the bending stiffness of the entire tower. This is denoted as Model 2.
c. Increasing the raft thickness only below the shear walls (see Figure 11), to reflect the
bending stiffness of the entire tower; this case is denoted as Model 3.
d. Model 1, with only 10% of the stiffness of the tower considered (Model 1M).
e. Model 2, with only 10% of the stiffness of the tower considered (Model 2M).
f. Model 3, with only 10% of the stiffness of the tower considered (Model 3M).
In each case, the actual pattern of loading via the columns and walls was applied, with only the dead
load component considered.
Figure 12 compares the various computed profiles of settlement across the tower, together with
those in which no account is taken of superstructure stiffness. Also shown is the design profile
developed by Poulos and Bunce (2008), which was for combined dead plus live load, and therefore
not directly comparable. Clearly, there is a considerable difference between the extreme profiles,
those taking all the superstructure stiffness into account, and that in which no account is taken of the
superstructure stiffness. It would appear reasonable to assume that the profiles from Models 1M,
2M and 3M may be more reasonable approximations to reality, and this appears to be borne out by
the comparisons with the measured settlements, as described below.

Fig.10. Raft model 2.

17

Fig.11. Raft Model 3.

11 July 2011

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

0
10 Model 1
NAPRA

NAPRA Model 2

20
30
NAPRA Model 3

Settlement [mm]

40

NAPRA Model 1M

50
60 Model 2M
NAPRA

NAPRA Model 3M

70
80
NAPRA-No Structure Stif f ness Allowance

90

Design Values (Poulos & Bunce (2008)

Distance along w ing [m]

Figure 12 Comparison Between Various Calculated Settlement Profiles

Comparisons Between Calculated and Measured Settlements


Detailed settlement measurements were only available up to February 2008, before the end of
construction and well before the commissioning and occupation of the building in January 2010.
Nevertheless, anectodal evidence indicated that the additional settlements between February 2008
and January 2010 were relatively small, of the order of 1-2mm.
Figure 13 shows comparisons between the latest available measured profile of settlement in
February 2008, and the calculated settlement profiles from Models 1M, 2M and 3M. The following
observations are made from an examination of Figures 12 and 13:
1. Without allowance for superstructure stiffness, the calculated maximum final differential
settlement is about 35mm which is considerably larger than the measured value of about
14mm. The computed maximum settlement is also larger than the measured value, although
some additional settlement would be expected after the building has been in operation for
some years.
2. When allowance is made for the superstructure stiffness, the computed maximum settlement
is similar in magnitude to the measured value. However, for Models 1, 2 and 3, in which the
full superstructure stiffness is incorporated (albeit approximately), the computed settlement
pattern differs somewhat from the measured pattern, and the computed differential
settlements are significantly smaller than those measured. It seems clear that it is not
appropriate to allow for the bending stiffness of the entire structure when trying to modify
the foundation stiffness.
3. When the allowance for superstructure stiffness is reduced by a factor of 10 (Models 1M,
2M and 3M), there is better agreement between the computed and measured profiles, with a
computed maximum differential settlement ranging between 15 and 21 mm for the three
models, similar to the measured value. In this case, the stiffness of the raft is approximately
53 times its original value, and this latter value is much larger than the value of 10 times
adopted by Hooper (1973) for the Hyde Park Barracks in London and by Sales et al. (2010)
for the Skyper Building in Frankfurt. Interestingly, and almost certainly coincidentally, the
18

11 July 2011

profile for this case is rather similar to that obtained for the case when the average load is
imposed on each pile.
4. There remain some differences between the measured and computed settlement profiles in
the vicinity of the edge of the wing. There may well be scope to refine the method by which
the superstructure is incorporated into the geotechnical foundation analysis.
5. The calculated settlements from the design phase are considerably greater than those
obtained from the analyses in this paper. The main reason for these larger settlements is that
the settlements were for both dead and live load acting, and in addition, conservative values
of Youngs modulus were used in these analyses, with a somewhat different distribution of
ground stiffness with depth being adopted in those calculations. Once again, this comparison
emphasises the importance of appropriate selection of the ground stiffness values if accurate
foundation settlement predictions are to be made.

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

10
NAPRA Model 1M

20

Settlement [mm]

NAPRA Model 2M

NAPRA Model 3M

30

40
Measured (February 2008)

50

60
Distance along wing [m]

Figure 13 Measured and Computed Settlement Profiles along Wing C


CONCLUSIONS
1. The case history of the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai has been re-assessed
for the prediction of average and differential settlement of the piled raft
foundation system. The comprehensive ground investigation and pile
testing program carried out for this project has enabled the site to be
characterized in some detail. The pile load tests is particular have been
an important factor in enabling reasonable settlement prediction to be
made.
2. The ground stiffness or modulus is a key factor in the prediction of
foundation settlements. If this is to be derived from pile load test data,
then the interpretation of the load-settlement should take into account
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11 July 2011

interaction effects with the reaction system, otherwise the ground


stiffness is likely to be over-estimated and the foundation settlements
subsequently under-predicted.
3. Sensitivity studies have been carried out to explore the effects of a number of factors on
predicted settlement behaviour of the Burj Khalifa tower. In addition to the ground stiffness
or modulus, the consideration of the effects of the raft and superstructure stiffness may be
important factors in influencing both the maximum settlement and the maximum differential
settlement.
4. The assessment of the differential settlement of the Khalifa tower
foundation has been by explored by adopting three different models to account for the
stiffening effect of the superstructure, and they have been found to give reasonably similar
results. However, if the foundation, or parts of it, are stiffened to represent the bending
stiffness of the entire structure, the consequent foundation response is too rigid, and the
differential settlements tend to be under-predicted considerably. For the Burj Khalifa tower,
an additional stiffness equivalent to about 10% of the entire bending stiffness has been
found to give improved, but by no means perfect, results when compared with measured
settlement profiles. This result suggests that there is a limit to the stiffness that the structure
can provide to the foundation system, and so the full structure should not be taken into
account when calculating the effective increase of stiffness.
5. In this case at least, consideration of the low-rise podium structure leads
to only a small increase in the settlement under the tower footprint.
6. The method of analysis may be a less significant factor in the prediction of piled rafts
settlements, provided the method is sound. For the same input data, the computer programs
GARP and NAPRA produced similar settlements of the tower.
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Poulos, H.G. 1994. An approximate numerical analysis of pile-raft interaction.


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