Posts tagged with "Abu Dhabi":

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Burj Inaugurated and Renamed

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. Designed by SOM Chicago along with former partner Adrian Smith, the Burj Khalifa was also officially declared 2,717 feet high, far surpassing its nearest rivals. The 160-story tower has 54 elevators that will carry an estimated 12,000 people to the building's offices, hotel rooms, apartments, nightclubs, and mosques. According to the New York Times, many of the building's apartments have sold, but the prospects for finding office tenants are poor, as the office market is particularly soft in Dubai. The Burj is just another example of how Chicago offices are continuing to lead in the field of tall building design. Given the climate, Burj Khalifa may be the world's tallest for some time to come.
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Frank Frank on Frank

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. With a game intro by the restaurateur of The Capital Grille referencing Gehry’s Experience Music Project in Seattle and his new project in “Abu Dhabi Dubai,” the chatter was off to an equally idiosyncratic start. Armstrong asked the famed architect about Frank Lloyd Wright. “Mostly, I stayed away from him, like everyone at Harvard and because I was a liberal do-gooder, and Wright was antithetical to all that,” Gehry said, adding that he went out of his away to avoid Wright when he came to give a lecture, citing his “totalitarian humanism.” Gehry explained that he evenutally gave in and drove off to Taliesin with his wife and two daughters all packed into the VW. They arrived and the flag was up the mast, indicating that the master was in residence. Driving up to the gatehouse, Gehry was informed that the entry fee was a dollar each for himself, his wife, and his two children. “I told them to shove off, and drove away,” Gehry said.
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Up, Up, and Abu Dhabi!

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--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. According to the firm, the 525-foot, 35 story hotel--future home of Hyatt Abu Dhabi--will be the leaningest building in the world, with an 18-degree cant, surpassing the Tower of Pisa's 14-degree bend. RMJM says reaching the halfway point is a touchstone because of the building's structural technicality. Simon Horgan, CEO of client Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, put it thusly in a press release:
Capital Gate is not about being the biggest or the tallest, it is about advanced technical ingenuity and aesthetic splendor. This is one of the most challenging buildings under construction in the world at the moment but due to the partnership between ADNEC, RMJM and all contractors on the project, ground breaking solutions are being designed on a daily basis.
To quote LL Cool J, don't call it a come back... Abu Dhabi'll be here for years to come.