The UAE’s Not Dead Yet: Three Stunning Buildings Near Completion [UPDATED]



Images of the futuristic architecture being planned for Dubai and Abu Dhabi conjure an era before the economic meltdown–what will happen to all those construction cranes sitting prone in the desert now? It turns out that a couple of the projects are actually going to get built. Two big experimental American architecture firms–Asymptote and Reiser+Umemoto–have nearly finished  signature projects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Both just barely missed the collapsing real estate market–so for now, despite all the hoopla about Dubai’s futuristic architecture, these two works are some of the only that we’ll ever see built. Both designs are eye-popping.

The Yas Hotel, set for completion in October, will be a crown jewel during the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: It sits right alongside the track, in a glittering new marina complex which cost $36 billion to build. The race will pass through the building’s heart, and right under a covered bridge that links the two towers of the Yas Hotel. Asymptote, headed by Lise Anne Couture and Hani Rashid (Karim’s brother), won the competition to design the hotel a scant two years ago. Covered in a shell of glass and steel, it’s almost more interesting incomplete–with the intricate guts on full display:





In Dubai, Jesse Resier and Nanako Umemoto‘s O-14, a 22-story commercial tower, is also slated for completion this fall. The most striking feature is a 16-inch-thick concrete skin, perforated by over 1,300 openings–which the architects liken to lace. The skin also has high performance built in: It functions as an exoskeleton, allowing the interior of the building to be column free. It also regulates the buildings temperature, by shielding it from sunlight and creating a “heat chimney.” Hot air rises in the gap between the interior  and exterior facades, and the moving air cools the glass surfaces inside. Granted, the architects haven’t published exact figures on exactly how much energy this effect will save, but it is heartening to see such an ancient technique being revived in new buildings.





The Hyatt Abu Dhabi, designed by RMJM, just reached its halfway point in construction. When finished, the 525-foot, 35-story building will have an unusual bragging point: It’ll be the world’s most dramatically leaning building, with a vertical cant of 18 degrees. (The Tower of Pisa, by contrast, leans 14 degrees.)

Hyatt Abu Dhabi

Hyatt Abu Dhabi

[Via The Architects Newspaper, Bustler, and Arch Daily, which have more images]

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.