Up-and-coming architect Frank Gehry recently sat down with the New York Times to discuss his Guggenheim museum under construction on Saadiyat Island near Abu Dhabi. The eccentric or idiosyncratic or whimsical structure totals 450,000 square feet, making it 12 times larger than the Guggenheim in New York. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is defined by multiple cones that Gehry says were influenced by teepees because of how they remove hot air. The design is also supposed to evoke the domes of mosques around the Middle East. Although that’s a bit harder to discern.
French Pritzker Prize–winning architect Jean Nouvel‘s design for Louvre Abu Dhabi has begun construction after a series of delays. The building’s most prominent feature is a 180-meter-diameter dome. The design of the dome is culturally relevant as well as utilitarian. The shape is prominent in traditional Arabian architecture. As the Louvre Abu Dhabi website describes, it is “an emblematic feature…evoking the mosque, the mausoleum, and the madrasa.” The dome’s expanse also protects the building and its visitors from the sun. Carefully formulated geometric apertures in the all-white structure allow diffused and dappled daylight inside the museum, while mitigating heat gain. Nouvel designed the dappled pattern to emulate interlaced palm fronds, which are traditionally used in Arabic countries for thatch roofs.
After reviewing over 60 entries from around the world, The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has selected this year’s winners of its annual Best Tall Buildings. Regional winners from Canada, China, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates have been announced, while an overall winner will be revealed at the CTBUH 12th Annual Ceremony in November. Projects are recognized for their impacts on the development of tall buildings and the urban environment, and for sustainability.
Today marks the official inauguration of the world’s tallest building, the Burj in Dubai. While the opening comes at a rocky time for the emirate and for the global real estate market, it was greeted with great fanfare, including, cannily, renaming the building the Burj Khalifa, after the president of neighboring Abu Dhabi, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The move signaled both Dubai’s gratitude for Abu Dhabi’s recent bailout and the unity of the emirates through the financial crisis.
The invitation billed it as an exclusive conversation about “the potential of architecture for urban, economic, and political change.” But when Frank Gehry and Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim Museum, sat down before the mics after one and half hours of benefit chow at a new Wall Street steakhouse and just 15 minutes before the event was to end, the talk, like the $200/plate mashed potatoes and pureed spinach, was noticeably soft. Read More
When I was out in LA at Postopolis!, one of the most interesting and memorable talks I heard was Christopher Hawthorne’s, on the chilling, almost creepy, effect the recession has had on the United Arab Emirates, in particular Dubai. While he still hasn’t written up his version of his trip–and we wish he would, because the talk was so interesting–the basic gist was that construction had all but stopped in Dubai, and to some degree in Abu Dhabi (to say nothing of New York and LA), because the spigot of liquidity-né-money had dried up with the collapse of the financial system. He termed it Ponzi-scheme urbanism. Well, it seems some things are still moving out in the wild, sandy yonder, as RMJM’s Princeton office (formerly Hillier) just passed along the following impressive photo of its Capital Gate tower passing the half-way mark. Read More