Photo by Jol (Flickr)

Many periods of irrational exuberance are accompanied by great architectural works that appear, in hindsight, to define the unbridled optimism and arrogance of the era in which they were created. The Empire State Building was a product of the years preceeding the Great Depression, while the Petronas Towers opened its doors during the 1997 economic collapse in Malaysia.

The Burj Dubai, which officially opens tomorrow, is the greatest monument from our most recent period of economic madness. At approximately 820 metres, it overshadows its nearest rival, Taipei 101, by over 300 metres. It has 162 floors and is visible from a distance of almost 100 km away. It cost USD 4 billion to construct, took 5 years to build and had over 7,500 people working on it at one stage.

And now, it’s finished. How long will it take to become economically viable? The Empire State Building took 20 years to do so.