Needling replaces planking as the new meme in Seattle

Planking is so early 2011.

At least that’s the case in Seattle where locals and tourists have moved on to “needling,” i.e., posing like the Space Needle. Started about two weeks ago by a few bored PR folks who wanted to “disrupt Seattle’s weather doldrums with a little fun,” the needling meme now has its own Tumblr website Do the Needle, where anyone can submit needling photos. So far, Do the Needle has collected photos of people needling in front of Seattle landmarks, such as the, uh, Space Needle and Pike Place Market, and as far afield as Boston’s Fenway Park.

It’s easy to see how needling could catch some buzz, as it’s far more inventive than planking or the equally silly owling. But I wonder if this show of Seattle pride could lead to modified versions around the world? Maybe by this time next month, we’ll bring you news of people posing like the Burj Khalifa, the CN Tower, or the Washington Monument.

What famous landmark would you like to see turned into a meme? Tell us in the comments below.

[Photo credit: Do the Needle]

Exploring the world’s tallest structure – the Burj Khalifa

The tallest building in the world does not appear made for this earth. By day it looks photoshopped into its downtown Dubai surroundings, and by night, the hulking spire looks like a rocket bound for the furthest reaches of our galaxy. And like a giant middle finger to its predecessors in the tallest building club, the structure is a testament to the audacity of Dubai – an idea that, what they build is what they are, and they are going to try and build the best.

While the world economic markets receded, Dubai kept building the beast called Khalifa. At a cost of $1.5 billion and a height of 2,717 feet, it humbles the surrounding skyscrapers in downtown Dubai. It possesses at least fifteen world records. It has the highest restaurant, the most floors, and is also the tallest structure ever built. The Middle East has not been home to the world’s tallest structure since 700 years ago, when the Great Pyramid of Giza was eclipsed by Lincoln Cathedral in England.


While said to be inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s plans to build a mythical mile-high tower called “The Illinois” in the fifties, the Burj Khalifa is very real, and very original. The foundation for the building is based on the petals of the Hymenocallis flower, and it took 10,000 people from virtually every country in the world to complete the construction project. Named after the president of the United Arab Emirates, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the engineering marvel took over 5 years to build, opening in 2010.

The Burj Khalifa is a mixed use tower with offices, residences, the Armani Hotel, and a restaurant called At.mosphere.

At the Top
The official visitor attraction for the Burj Khalifa is called “At the Top” and begins in Dubai Mall, next to the tower. The experience leads visitors through various multimedia presentations that trace the building of Khalifa. A travelator also cruises through a history of Dubai presentation in much appreciated air conditioning. After passing through some general Burj propaganda that includes the superimposing of the Burj Khalifa in a variety of cities, such as New York, one finally arrives at the elevators that ascend to the observation deck.

The observation deck is on the 124th floor, and reaching it by elevator takes roughly one minute. At a rate of 59 feet per second, it is the fastest elevator in the world. From the 124th floor the view reaches for miles and miles. All of Dubai looks like some sort of Lego set made by giants, unfinished and reaching for open space. The streets head in no particular direction and other skyscrapers appear tame and arbitrary.

A 360 degree panorama is provided from the observation deck, providing epic views of the city, sea, and desert. On clear days, one can glimpse man-made islands floating in the Arabian gulf. If, by chance, a visitor finds himself aching to buy some gold at this height, thankfully an ATM that distributes gold bars is available. File that under Only in Dubai.

The cost of admission varies. Since this is Dubai, there is an expensive option in addition to regular admission. The “immediate entry” choice costs four times regular admission, but one will be able to skip the line. This option is 400 AED ($108), and regular admission is 100 AED ($27). If time is greater than money, then the “immediate entry” preference is for you. Hours of operation are 10:00am to 12:00am daily. Booking in advance on the Burj Khalifa website is extremely wise.

The Armani Hotel
The Armani Hotel offers hotel rooms and residences in the Burj Khalifa. The first hotel named after fashion magnate Giorgio Armani minimizes all unnecessary aspects of hotel operations, delivering a sleek experience from end to end. The check in desk has been abolished, instead light conversation guides the process along. The desk in a “Classic” guestroom is a cube that one must slowly unfold, opening up an expanse in which to write love letters to minimalist designers. While Giorgio may or may not be a fan of desks, the point is minimalization, and it works wonderfully.

The colors are neutral, the lines are clean, and everything feels easy. This easiness translates to a feeling of being at home – even in bustling downtown Dubai with the pretension of a designer hotel in the world’s tallest building. To cut through that thick ostentation and provide comfort first is a noteworthy accomplishment. (Also of note, free pencil sharpeners and erasers, festooned with “Armani Hotel Dubai,” are there for those that open the guestroom desk.)

The beds in a hotel named for a fashion designer known for his legendary hand in selecting fabrics better be exceptional. And they are. They may be the most comfortable hotel beds in Dubai, perhaps Asia even. Surely, many morning meetings are missed due to the excessive coziness provided by the floppy soft comforter and cushiony mattress. Long after checking out, two memories linger in the mind of the traveler – the bed and the view. The view is exceptional, especially on the fountain-side. It is definitely worth splurging for a fountain-side room and watching the nightly Dubai Fountain show erupt beneath.

Pricing for rooms starts at around $450 (after taxes) if booked through an aggregator site like Kayak. The top-end Dubai Suite costs thousands more. The hotel boasts 5 stars, and has an Armani branded on premise spa as well as dining.

The tallest restaurant in the world is located on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa. This den of gastronomical excellence known as At.mosphere is helmed by Chef Dwayne Cheer. Due to safety issues with cooking at such a height, no gas can be used in the kitchen. Instead, a binchōtan charcoal oven is used. The oven is utilized expertly in preparing amazing dishes such as pan fried fois gras with espresso reduction and amaretto foam as well as seared diver scallops with cauliflower puree and grapefruit grenobloise. At.mosphere was profiled last week here at Gadling.

The Dubai Fountain
The brilliant designers behind the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas lent their extraordinary talents to a fountain complex directly beneath the Burj Khalifa’s menacing spire. Considered the largest dancing fountain display in the world, the Dubai Fountain covers a distance of 900 feet and shoots water up to 500 feet in the sky. Nightly shows occur every 30 minutes from 6:00pm to 10:00pm on weekdays and until 11:00pm on weekends. The accompanying light show is so bright it can be seen from space. The elaborate fountain cost over $200 million to build.

All photography by Justin Delaney

Support for this program was partially provided by DTCM, with no limits on editorial or photographic content.

Seven courses at the highest restaurant in the world – At.mosphere in Dubai

Dubai is a city of realized hyperbole. It has the tallest building in the world, man-made islands shaped like the world’s continents, and a restaurant high high above the towering skyscrapers below. At.mosphere, a restaurant in Dubai’s towering Burj Khalifa, provides a dining experience with a view reminiscent of glancing out the window of a plane. It is preposterously thrilling to savor a plate of foie gras 122 floors above what appears to be the world’s largest game of Sim City developing below, spreading out into open desert.

Reaching At.mosphere involves a few steps absent from most dining arrangements. First, one must enter the tallest building in the world, approach a sleek metal elevator, and make a very important choice that is really no choice at all. Only one option exists in the elevator – floor 123. With no stops to make on the way up, the elevator travels with a speedy transcendence that feels just a few technological steps removed from teleportation – 33 feet per second. In the time it takes a middle school graduate to read this paragraph, the doors swing open to reveal a spiral staircase leading to the restaurant one floor below.


At.mosphere is not a large restaurant, but floor to ceiling windows exaggerate its humble boundaries. It feels as though the entire sky is yours. Designed by Adam Tihany, the space strikes a fine balance between opulence and simplicity, allowing the view and the food to inspire diners unobstructed by unnecessary appointments. The lacquered mahogany walls and white tablecloth tables combine to create an elegantly modern aesthetic without being too pushy or over-extravagant – an issue that seems to surface frequently in Dubai.

Holding diners’ attention with such a world class view is a challenging proposition. Chef Dwayne Cheer is up to the task and delivers inspired dishes with ingredients as globally sourced as Dubai. Vegetables from Provence, bush lamb from Australia, and lobsters from Maine round out an unlikely cast of characters to be found in the Middle-east. Due to a safety issue of cooking at such a lofty height in a confined space, using gas in the kitchen is not possible. The Chef and his team side-step this issue by employing the “Mighty Josper” – a BBQ oven that utilizes Binchōtan charcoal to grill tender vessels of deliciousness. The Josper Oven is a Spanish invention and has enjoyed tremendous success throughout Europe.

The food is worthy of superlative, and the occasional joy-filled expletive. While the a la carte menu boasts many intriguing selections, the set menu provides a tantalizing flight around the world. From first to last, each dish inspired. Like a man with no issues regarding his expanding waistline, I took to each plate with a reckless abandon, devouring seven in a row while putting back no less than three mocktails. I felt like an imperial Epicurean, conquering all foods into the empire of my stomach. At the end of the feast, as sugar coursed through my body and the taste of wagyū lingered on my palette, I was ever thankful for Chef Cheer and his mighty Josper oven. Here is how I reached this point of culinary nirvana:

Course One: Asparagus soup with king crab, pea shoots, and gold

Course Two: Seared diver scallops with cauliflower puree and grapefruit grenobloise

Course Three: Pan fried fois gras with espresso reduction and amaretto foam

Course Four: Pan fried whitefish with lemon balm in mangosteen broth

Course Five: Wagyu Beef with baby veggies, potato puree, and smoky pepper jus

Course Six: Fromage frais with raspberry sorbet and fresh apple

Course Seven: The Gianduja – gianduja mousse with bitter chocolate sorbet and caramelized hazelnut, topped with gold

Every dish stole my heart. The fois gras tasted delicate and extremely sweet, challenging my taste buds with its complex dichotomy of flavors. The wagyu beef fell apart with each bite, its tenderness lending an ephemeral quality to the storied Japanese beef. The Gianduja almost changed my religion. I contemplated worshiping only food after the third bite.

In the end, I felt like an upmarket Adam Richman, exhausted from this crippling conquest of food and drink. Without a doubt, when in Dubai, visit At.mosphere. The view is unparalleled, the food is exquisitely concocted, and while the name is a bit on the contrived side, it is the one thing that is undoubtedly forgivable in a restaurant. At.mosphere is a special restaurant, and as the highest in the world, it will remain one of Dubai’s most popular establishments.

Eating there: At.mospere is located in downtown Dubai in the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world. Reservations are a must and can be made by emailing a reservation request to The restaurant side of At.mospere, known as the Grill, is open for lunch from 12:30pm – 3:00pm and for dinner from 7:00pm – 11:30pm. The lounge portion of At.mosphere is open from 12:00pm – 2:00am. An a la carte menu can be viewed here. Offerings range from 110 AED ($30) to 590 AED ($160).

On a budget, but want to take in the view and atmosphere? Stop by the At.mosphere lounge for an adult beverage or mocktail.

All photography by Justin Delaney

Support for this program was partially provided by DTCM, with no limits on editorial or photographic content.

Chinese get serious about tallest hotel – plan to clone Dubai Burj Khalifa

If you can’t beat them, copy them – consider that the logic behind the news yesterday that the Chinese have hired a Saudi construction firm to build what could become the next tallest hotel in the world. Its inspiration? The 2,716ft tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai of course.

The Beijing tower is currently well into the planning phase and will be situated at the end of Chang Avenue, right across from Tiananmen Square.

This all comes a mere three weeks after another Chinese hotel tried to claim the fame when they announced a new hotel to be built in Shanghai. As with most of these “tallest”, not that many details were revealed, and the final height, number of hotel floors and completion date were not published. But with an estimated construction price of $1.3bn, you can assume it’ll be absolutely mindblowingly tall.

%Gallery-81382%Just how tall is this building? Check out this video shot from the top:

[Photo of Burj Khalifa from AP/Getty Images]

Luxury travel and fashion unite inside the Armani Hotel Dubai

Cities often serve as a mecca for fashion trends. From New York City to Milan to Paris, fashion knows no limits when it comes cat-walking down the boulevard. Each new season boasts a new must-have fabric, cut or hemline, but there’s more to fashion than what you wear. While most bank accounts can’t justify the $1,000 gladiator sandals or an Alexander McQueen ostrich feather dress (starting price at around $10,000), many travelers will make a case for spending money on vacations. Thankfully, as more fashion designers are expanding their brands and offerings, the travel industry is reaping the rewards.

The Armani Hotel, built inside the world’s tallest building, gives new meaning to the term ‘high-fashion’. Italian designer Giorgio Armani dug deep into the fashion treasure trove for its new hotel in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and created an experience fit for a fashion icon and his followers. In addition to the eight on-site restaurants, the hotel features an exclusive Armani boutique, an Armani Dolci (candy shop) and an Armani Fiori (flower shop). The hotel also houses the world’s highest mosque, and swimming pool and spa. The 160 rooms in the Armani Hotel Dubai are designed in earth tones and accented in creme colors.

A glimpse at the hotel’s website offers descriptions of the various rooms:

Armani classic: The classic rooms are 70 square meter-bedrooms (approximately 753 square feet) in the center of the tower.
Armani executive: Located on levels 5 and 6 of Burj Khalifa, the rooms are slightly bigger at 85 square meters (914 square feet) and offers views of The Dubai Fountain.
Armani signature: Personally designed by Giorgio Armani, these suites are a spacious 235 square meters (2,529 square feet) and are located on Levels 38 and 39.Armani suites: Located across all floors, Armani Suites range from 70 to 95 square meters (approximately 700- to 1000-square feet) and are located across all the tower wings.
Armani studio: The bedrooms are 45 square meters (484 square feet) located on all floors and next to the elevators.
Armani premier: Located on all floors, the Armani Premiere rooms cover 95 square meter and are designed by Giorgio Armani.
Armani ambassador: These capacious suites, located on levels 5 and 6, are 150 square meters (approximately 1,600 square feet).
Armani Dubai suite: The Armani Dubai Suite is one of its kind with 390 square meters (over 4,000 square feet) of space and elegance and designed by Giorgio Armani.

In a press release at the grand unveiling yesterday Armani said, “Yesterday when I arrived and saw the hotel, I felt really emotional… After five years of working on this project, I finally saw how it all came to life. Working with me is not always easy, I think everyone here would agree because my standards are very high.”

The hotel is a collaboration between Armani and Emaar Properties, but it’s not the last we’ll see of the Armani hotels. Milan, Marrakesh, Paris, New York City, Tokyo and Shanghai are also on the hotel horizon.

So, what’s all this fashion cost? Certainly more than a pair of shoes, but less than a designer dress.

A standard room in the hotel starts at around 4,000 dirhams ($1,089 USD) a night, while the suites ring in around 40,000 dirhams (approximately $10,000 USD). A table at the the hotel’s Prive lounge and nightclub, which is home to the world’s largest LCD screen, will cost at least 3,000 dirhams (approximately $800 USD).

Is it worth it? I’d bet my gladiators on it.