Architect Gordon Gill has one simple rule for facade design: seek performance first, and beauty will follow. Gill, who will give the opening keynote address at next month’s facades+PERFORMANCE conference in New York, is a founding partner at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, a firm known for pushing the boundaries of what architecture is and does. Gill and his team start by “establishing a language of architecture that’s based in the performance of a building,” he said. “We’re trying to understand the role of the building in the environment it’s being built in, then shape the building in order to benefit it the best way. Once we take that approach, the facades play a pretty rich role in either absorbing or reflecting the environment.”
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) announced last week it would design a new headquarters for Dubai-based Mashreq Bank. The 32-story tower is “a quiet sculptural form within Dubai’s skyline,” SOM Design Director Ross Wimer said in a statement. Its L-shaped floor plate is cantilevered around an empty volume between the building’s eight-story podium and its top levels.
The building’s massing shields that courtyard from solar gain, while opening up views to Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa to the east. Executive offices occupy the top two floors, where the square floorplate resumes, with Mashreq’s Board Room suspended from an interior opening at the middle.
Scrap your afternoon plans and take an amazing aerial tour of Dubai, instead. Photographer Gerald Donovan has created an interactive panorama of the city as seen from the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa for the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award. The view was taken from the top of the tower, some 2,722 feet above the street, reached by climbing nearly 660 feet through the Burj Khalifa’s enormous spire. Users can pan around and zoom in to observe the surrounding cityscape with amazing detail. To achieve the stunning effect, Donovan stitched 70 photographs together, each a whopping 80 megapixels, to create a single 2.5 gigapixel panorama. [Via The Telegraph.]
Early Saturday morning, a 34-story residential tower in Dubai burst into flames running its entire height. The 160-unit Tamweel Tower, located in a complex of towers known as the Jumeirah Lakes Towers, caught fire at 2:30a.m. local time, sending hundreds of residents into the streets to seek refuge in a nearby park. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but The National reported that some believe the fire may have started near the roof and propelled down the tower by the building’s flammable cladding material, a similar phenomenon as what happened to Rem Koolhaas’ CCTV tower in China a few years ago when fireworks sparked a major blaze on the under-construction tower and the nearby 40-story Al Tayer Tower that caught fire earlier this year.
Solar-Powered Fun. New York City’s first solar merry-go-round just opened at the South Street Seaport, offering free rides to kids through September 7th. GE’s Carousolar is powered by 100 solar panels made of ultra thin semiconductors able to withstand extreme humidity and UV ray exposure. The green fun isn’t just for kids—GE also provided solar-powered cell phone charging stations for adults around the carousel, reported Inhabitat.
Sun-Filled Fasting. According to Dubai’s top cleric Mohammed al-Qubaisi, residents of the Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest skyscraper, will have to wait a few extra minutes to break their fast during Ramadan. Muslims living above the tower’s 80th floor should fast two additional minutes after dusk while those above the 150th floor wait an additional three minutes, The Guardian reported. Al-Qubaisi explained that just like early Muslims living in the mountains, the residents of the highest floors must adjust their fast due to the extended visibility of sunlight.
#ThingsNotToDoOnPublicTransportation. Public Transportation is trending on Twitter and the end result is a humorous user guide to transit etiquette. Transportation Nation rounded up some of their family-friendly favorites.
LEGO Gate. While not yet officially announced, European blogs have been abuzz that the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin will be the next in LEGO’s Architecture line of miniature real buildings. Unbeige revealed the series’ designer Adam Reed Tucker developed the Brandenburg model, representing the 2nd building outside of the US (the first was SOM’s Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai).
The Burj Dubai Khalifa opened on Monday, breaking a slew of records, but this video showcases one we never expected: a record-breaking base jump. Leaping from a window-washing crane on the 160th floor, two local experts plummeted 2,205 feet to earth, a feat few, if any, will ever replicate, though no doubt they’ll keep trying, as what’s even crazier is a British man attempted the same jump before the building was even completed, though he was caught in the act and promptly incarcerated, as the video after the, uh, jump shows. If that’s not enough, the Daily Mail‘s got some good photos. Read More
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.
Construction projects are dropping like flies everywhere you look, falling in the water deader than Air France Flight 447. It’s gotten to the point that when a major milestone is met on a significant piece of architecture there is cause not only for rejoicing, but commentary by the architectural press. And lo, our latest great happiness comes (yet again) from the Arabian Desert: In the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, work has completed on the structural frame of O-14, an office building somewhat redolent of a block of swiss cheese. Designed by the New York City firm Reiser + Umemoto, the structure makes a significant departure from the otherwise glass-curtain walled edifices of this arid city by the sea. It’s exterior is composed of a perforated concrete bearing wall, which does double duty as a shading device, protecting the building from the blazing middle-eastern sun. For a full low down on O-14′s uncommon framing system, as well as more construction photos, see our 2008 feature on concrete.