Friday, May 16, 2008

Abu Dhabi Builds Its Architectural Image

The capital of the United Arab Emirates is footing the bill for a building boom to appeal to international investors and tourists
With the recent news of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority's (ADIA) $7.5 billion investment in Citigroup, the capital of the United Arab Emirates has been grabbing headlines. But in addition to the spectacular global business deals, it's also attracting attention for its growing number of spectacular architectural projects. Much like rival emirate Dubai, as well as ambitious cities such as Beijing, Abu Dhabi is in the midst of a building boom that's an ambitious attempt to capitalize on a flourishing economy to remake the area as a cultural and tourist destination.Over the past two years, numerous Abu Dhabi-based real estate projects with big-name architects and over-the-top budgets have been unveiled, bringing billions of dollars to the region in the form of construction projects and promising more in terms of ongoing tourist revenue. Many of the "starchitect" projects created by luminaries such as Frank Gehry are set to open in the next five years or so. These have gotten a lot of attention in the media—but tourists are also being lured by other destinations offering new, show-stopping buildings. Other projects in the works also make Abu Dhabi worth paying attention to—either as an investor or as a tourist. These include ambitious sustainable complexes, such as a zero-waste city-within-a-city, what promises to be the first LEED-rated structure in the United Arab Emirates, and a skyscraper with the world's largest atrium—built with mainly local, rather than imported, materials.

Emirates Palace Hotel
This hotel, which opened in 2005, features 114 domes covered in mosaic glass tiles, including the 138-foot Grand Atrium dome. Much of the hotel's interior is covered with nearly 20,000 feet of gold leaf, making it the world's largest gilded expanse in a single building. Built for approximately $3.9 billion, the Emirates Palace is currently the world's most expensive hotel construction project.

Louvre Abu Dhabi
Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, this 24,000-square-meter extension of Paris' famed museum is scheduled to open in 2012. Galleries will open to the public in successive phases. It's one of several museums opening on Saadiyat Island, which is being developed as a cultural destination for tourists by Abu Dhabi Development & Investment Co., which oversees the real estate investments of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, a governmental body.Nouvel designed the museum's dome with a web-like pattern that lets natural sunlight filter through the roof. The idea is not only to cut down on lighting costs, but also to suggest the effect of sun rays filtering through palm-tree leaves—a reference to Middle Eastern foliage. The emirate is paying $520 million to France's Louvre to use the museum's name.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Can the so-called Bilbao effect—the magnetic pull attracting tourists to Frank Gehry’s design of the spectacular Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain—work in Abu Dhabi, too? Gehry is the architect behind the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, scheduled to open by 2012, which, at 320,000 square feet, promises to be the largest Guggenheim in the world. Gehry's design features four stories of galleries surrounding a courtyard and natural cooling via skylights, which should cut down on electricity costs. The facility, also part of Saadiyat Island's $27 billion cultural district, will include a conservation lab and a center for art and technology, details of which have yet to be revealed.

Performing Arts Center
Zaha Hadid, the Middle East-born, London-based architect, has designed a 62-meter-tall building that promises to be larger than London's Royal Albert Hall—by more than 1,000 seats. Hadid designed the space, another Saadiyat Island destination due to open within five years, to have multiple "summits," or peak-like roofs, that house each of the center's five theaters (each venue offers a setting for a different style of performance, such as music or theater). The five auditoriums were conceived to represent "fruit on a vine," the architect said in a statement.

Maritime Museum
Minimalist Japanese architect Tadao Ando designed a simple yet elegant edifice that will house a reception hall, maritime-related exhibits, and a large aquarium as yet another part of the Saadiyat Island cultural district, this one to be completed by 2012. Ando has stated that his design concept, which features a reflective surface, was influenced by Abu Dhabi's natural surroundings—and it literally reflects nearby water. To carry through the maritime theme, Ando designed the interior with decks that recall those of ships. Ando also plans to position lines of trees in front of the building to create a neat, modern version of the traditional oasis.

Al Reem Island
This mixed-use development, the largest so far in Abu Dhabi, will take up 6.5 million square meters. Three developers from the region are spearheading the project: Tamouh Investments, which has a 60% stake, the rest being split between Sorouh Real Estate Development and Al Reem Investments (whose $8 billion waterfront residential development, Najmat Abu Dhabi, is seen here). The entire development, covering 20 million square feet, will accommodate 80 thousand residents and is scheduled to be completed by 2012. Engineering firm Arup is currently working on designs for an eco-friendly car park for 2,300 vehicles on Al Reem Island. This will include an innovative cooling system for the garage, featuring pumps that will channel cold deep-sea water into the structure, as well as a giant misting system that will produce a fine cloud to reduce temperatures when they soar.

Central Market
London-based architectural firm Foster + Partners unveiled plans last year for remaking Abu Dhabi's historic Central Market. The idea is to bring the traditional marketplace into the 21st century with offices, residences, hotels, and, of course, shopping areas. The design of the two-block shopping area plays off the concept of the souk, or market: The mini-city will be filled with small courtyards and pedestrian-friendly alleys and will include low-rise buildings. Shops will offer a mix of global, luxury brands (yet to be announced) and local merchants. Plans for many of the buildings include roof gardens. To keep a contemporary look, Foster + Partners also is designing a set of three towers to create a new landmark for the Abu Dhabi skyline.

Masdar Development
The ambitious goal of this 6-million-square-meter development is to create a carbon-neutral, zero-waste walled city within a city. Foster + Partners is completing the master plan, or the layout of the area and its buildings, for its client, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. Power to the whole locale will be supplied by a large photovoltaic system, and the entire city will be car-free; walking is encouraged by placing buildings close to each other so residents won't need to drive. Future plans also include wind farms to supply sustainable power. Early designs were unveiled this year; completion of the complex will roll out in phases, with an end date yet to be confirmed.

Miami-based Arquitectonica was hired by Sorouh Real Estate Development to build the Skytower, the tallest skyscraper in Abu Dhabi. The architects and developers plan to have the 83-story structure be the first in the United Arab Emirates to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) rating. The height of the Skytower, part of an eight-tower complex featuring residences as well as commercial offices and shops, is meant to stand out in the cityscape as a powerful landmark welcoming visitors to Abu Dhabi. The architects plan to use glass glazes that control sunlight to keep the building cool, as well as water-saving fixtures throughout. The smaller towers feature multistory windows that encourage natural airflow, reducing the need for air conditioning. The entire complex is scheduled for completion in 2009.

Tameer Towers
Architecture firm Gensler is designing the Tameer Towers, being touted as a sustainable skyscraper. It’s a $100 million mixed-use development with 9 million square feet across six 72-story diamond-shaped towers. By the time of its completion in 2011, the complex will feature 1,900 apartments, a hotel, shops, and offices. Apartments will be partially cooled from above by shade provided by landscaped terraces. The plan is also to use local rather than imported materials to create the 72-story building. The project is not without spectacular, show-stopping design details: It promises a 650-foot high atrium—the tallest in the world.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

From my own Drawing Board !!!

U.S. design firm profiles $720 million sustainable Qatar Education City Convention Center at Cityscape Abu Dhabi.
Leading architects and engineers, Yamasaki, will provide a sneak peek of one of the largest purpose built convention centres in the Middle East at Cityscape Abu Dhabi tomorrow.
The 79,000 sq m architectural showpiece in Qatar’s Education City, due for completion next year, will cater to 7,000 delegates. Designed to meet and exceed world-class standards the center will feature 10 conference and performance venues, including a 4,000 seat conference hall and a 2,500 seat theatre.
The stunning design of the convention centre is centered on a steel replica of the Sidra tree. An icon in Qatari history and culture, the Sidra tree is the symbol for Qatar Foundation which seeks to be a ‘haven of learning’ for Qatar and the region. As well as hosting conferences and exhibitions, the centre will also be a venue for local and international music and arts festivals.
Brought on in 2006 by consulting management group KEO and contractor Baytur Construction and Contracting company to hone and develop the intricate design originally conceived by Arata Isozaki and RHWL architects, Yamasaki brings 50+ years experience to the project. Founded in 1955 by Minoru Yamasaki, the modern organization focuses on design and architectural excellence throughout the world including a focus on sustainability and responsibility to the environment.
Yamasaki, a member of the US Green Buildings Council, will emphasize its commitment to sustainability in architectural design at Cityscape Abu Dhabi. The company recently received the 25-year award from the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles Chapter for the Century Plaza Towers in recognition of an architectural design of lasting significance.
"Sustainable, high-performance and environmentally conscious design is becoming a standard for our projects," said Ted T. Ayoub, Chairman of Yamasaki. "We believe participating in Cityscape Abu Dhabi will bring us face-to-face with the clients as well as end-users and provide an opportunity to communicate directly on issues of sustainability, efficiency, and everlasting design here in the Middle East."
Yamasaki has completed numerous facilities of varied type in the Middle East, Europe, the Far East as well as the United States. With an increased focus in the Middle East and Gulf region, Yamasaki leverages significant project experience in the region including the Royal Reception Pavilion at King Abdulaziz International Airport, Dhahran Air Terminal, the King Fahd International Airport and the Headquarters of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency

Friday, May 2, 2008

Why Paint Sheen matters...

Tech Talk: Considering Sheen- Stir magazine

Why paint sheen matters: from the practical to the visual.
At first blush, paint sheen seems a minor design consideration — especially compared to color. But picking the ideal sheen for a paint job involves important visual and functional considerations.

As a practical matter, high-sheen or glossy surfaces are often easier to keep clean. These paint formulations traditionally produce the toughest and most stain-resistant finishes — that’s why high-gloss finishes are common in bathrooms, high-traffic areas and kids’ rooms. Aesthetically speaking, sheen or gloss draws attention to a given surface, especially indoors. This includes even the smallest flaws. If the intention is to hide or downplay a space, high-sheen paint should be avoided.

Most brands of paint come in several sheens, and both latex and oil-based paints are available in different sheen levels. Gloss sheens have the highest light-reflective characteristics. Next are semigloss sheens; then satin, eggshell, or low-lustre sheens; and then flat or matte sheens.
Technically speaking High paint-resin or binder levels create high sheen, smooth finishes and durable surfaces. (Paint’s binder imparts adhesion, binding the pigments together and strongly influencing such properties as gloss, weathering durability, flexibility and toughness.) Conversely, high paint- pigment levels, along with coarse pigment granules, create duller, rougher and less resilient finishes.

Glossed over Okay, so glossy finishes draw the eye — where should they be used then? Contrasting finishes provide a feeling of depth. To achieve a 3-D feel, consider using gloss paint on the trim in a room that has otherwise been painted with a low-lustre or flat paint. Also consider using gloss finishes to help architectural features pop — such as entry doors or trim around ornate glasswork.

Higher-gloss paint finishes can also help brighten dark spaces. Under most common lighting conditions, a combination of semigloss sheen and light-colored paint is an optimal wall covering method to brighten a dark space. (The reason a high-gloss sheen should be avoided in this situation is excessive glare. A dark space requires a lot of artificial lighting, and high-sheen walls would catch and reflect all this light.)

Halfway there: satin, low-lustre and eggshell All of these finishes have a sheen that is between semigloss and flat paints. Satin and low-lustre paints have a faintly higher sheen than eggshell finishes. Paints in this category are warmer and provide a greater appearance of depth than flat paints. They also resist stains better than flat paints.

Striking a flat note paints, also known as matte paints, are a valuable design tool when used correctly. Because they are nonreflective, they tend to conceal surface blemishes better than paints with more sheen. In a visual sense, these finishes effectively “smooth” walls that are dented or rough. And, since flat finishes actually deflect attention from surfaces, flat paints are a great choice for ceilings or other surfaces you want to downplay.

Unfortunately, stains are often difficult to remove from flat finishes. Unlike paints with higher sheen, a non-reflective, flat paint finish has a porous texture, which can trap dirt and result in burnishing when scrubbed or rubbed. However, there is one very important exception to this rule — Sherwin-Williams Duration Home.® Duration Home, which is available in a matte sheen, is formulated with patented cross-linking technology that forms a smooth continuous paint film. This cross-linking technology not only locks in the colorants, it also provides superior resistance to staining, burnishing and water-streaking or spotting, and ultimately provides superior washability. And it can be tinted to the deepest, most saturated colors your customers want.
One last option: in-between With four levels of sheen available in most products, designers can usually find a paint finish that matches their vision. But, if a manufacturer’s sheen does not work aesthetically for a particular project, consider mixing two sheens together to get a custom sheen or an “in-between finish.”