Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Global Greeks: Greek American Architect, George Efstathiou at Top of World's Tallest Building!

George J Efstathiou
(Photo Source: Wikipedia)

Welcome to the Burj Khalifa - the world's latest tallest building! You have probably all read about this since it's official 'unveiling' so to speak on 4 January 2010. What you probably haven't heard is that one of our very own Global Greeks,  Greek American George Efstathiou, was instrumental in bringing it to pass!

As Managing Partner in the Chicago based firm of Architects, SOM, or Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, George was lead partner for this modern day marvel of construction, handling a budget rumoured to be in the vicinity of 3 billion dollars, and has travelled extensively between Chicago and Dubai, between 70 to  80 times since 2003, according to his own estimates.

Addressing concerns about the environmental and ecological aspects of such a building, George is quick to advise that the development does employ a measure of green design pointing out the following:

The entire Burj district -- tower, mall, hotels, restaurants -- shares a single cooling system, bringing significant energy economies. Also, engineers took advantage of Dubai's torrid heat and humidity by having the skyscraper's chilled-water piping double as a condenser to produce thousands of gallons of fresh water for irrigation, he said.

All the water in that area is desalinated water, so extracting it from the air in that way is a very sustainable kind of thing to do, and it also helps us keep our site nice and green.

 Burj Khalifa - Dubai
(Photo Source: JetLib News)

About George Efstathiou

Born in Chicago to Greek American parents, whose own parents migrated from a small Arcadian village near Tripoli in the Peloponnese, George has wonderful memories of growing up in a very Greek household full of wonderful scents and aromas. Although he travels the world extensively, whenever he comes to Greece, those familiar scents envelop him and take him right back to his childhood. His favourite place in Greece is Santorini and  Oia, in particular, which he, along with many of us, considers unique and unparalleled in the world in terms of natural beauty.

He considers Chicago home but loves Athens and considers that a building such as the Burj Khalifa would have no place in Greece, as it is the culture and the character of a city that is important and wouldn't like to see Athens become Chicago or New York!

Future plans include a 1001 metre skyscraper in Saudi Arabia... 
"If you build a really solid base, then you can indeed touch the sky"

George began his  career with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP in 1974, and for the first 10 years with the firm focused primarily on domestic projects in the US, including work in Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago.

As Managing Partner at SOM, George then led numerous mixed-use projects throughout the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, People's Republic of China, Hungary, Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Lebanon, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. George lectures frequently on projects, particularly the Burj Khalifa or the Burj Dubai as it was called until it was renamed to pay tribute to Sheikh Khalifa of Abu Dhabi which lent a helping hand when Dubai faced financial problems in 2009.

George began his international focus in 1985, when he was a part of the SOM team that designed a 6,000,000 square foot Broadgate project over the air rights of the Liverpool Street Station in London. In order to follow through  the management and execution of the Broadgate project, in 1989 George relocated from Chicago to live and work in London for two years.

During his time in London, he studied and gained a full understanding, knowledge and experience of the U.K. practice methods and techniques for the delivery of professional architectural services which, next to the U.S. techniques, are widely used around the world.

He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and a member of the Royal Institute of Building Architects (RIBA).

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