- Abaad Tower, Dubai
- I was the Project Architect of an interdisciplinary team leading the design of a 46-story office tower in Dubai. The landscape, interior design and architectural teams reported directly to me while the engineering teams were consultants located in Dubai.Although I am extremely proud of the project and the work of my team, the project was cancelled just prior to construction start due to the downturn in the financial sector in Dubai.
- Bespoke Suit
This project had a variety of unique challenges, but in my mind the most significant was related to image. In Dubai appearances and status are paramount for the success of commercial projects. This has led to an architectural culture of throw-away design conceits that become quickly become stale as they are eclipsed by the next gesture. I organized a one-day design team session to examine how we could respond to this wasteful condition. In the session I started with a team challenge on how we could create a memorable narrative for the building that would also give it staying power. It was important for me that this approach would be strong and cross-disciplinary so that it would inform the design ethos of the project and of each discipline. Our collective decision was to take our cue from fashion and consider the building as a timeless bespoke suit. This simple vision was immediately communicable and instantly resonated with the team and ultimately with the client.
The idea of well-tailored suit drove the spatial and finish decisions. I assigned an architect to research the various fabric weaves used in cloth manufacturing. This pattern language was then re-interpreted through overlapping ceramic frits on the curtain wall. The frit pattern provided solar protection at the non-vision areas of the curtain wall, while also opened up at critical eye level allow views and daylighting. The same weave strategy was used on the open cladding of the 7 story-parking podium. Just as importantly a similar patterning underpinned both the landscape planning strategy and the interiors – especially at the key entrance lobby and sky lobby on the podium roof. Throughout the design process the client was incredibly supportive as he embraced both the clarity of the vision as well as its resolution by all the disciplines.
- Site Challenges
Regardless of vision there were several logistical challenges that had to be addressed including optimizing the floor plate for rental opportunities while threading the structure through three different zoning setback conditions. I was also highly conscious of the potential expense of structural offsets and pushed the entire team to create multiple floor plates that accommodated underground parking, an elevated parking podium and the main tower. In Dubai, HVAC efficiency is often ignored, as energy is plentiful and cheap. Similar to my reluctance to accept the prevailing ethos of disposable image, I wanted a project that would generate operational efficiencies. I pushed for simple strategies such as single loading a west-facing core used the building mass to shield the office areas from direct sun while also allowing an opportunity to optimize daylight and views.
- HOK Deign Team:Architecure & Interior Design: Paul Whelan, Basel Kotob, Darren Hastings, Zarko MartinovicLandscape: Michael Holm