Al Hamra Tower

Al Hamra Tower

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This mixed-use structure’s distinct form pulls from local traditions and establishes itself as an icon along Kuwait City’s skyline.

A desire to maximize waterfront views while minimizing solar heat gain inspired the building’s asymmetrical form, which calls to mind the traditional bisht robes worn by Kuwaitis. The purity of its form, expressed by a simple operation of removal, makes the tower a timeless, elegant marker in the heart of Kuwait City. A quarter of each floor plate is chiseled out of the south side, shifting from west to east over the height of the building. The result reveals a rich, monolithic stone at the south wall framed by the graceful, twisting ribbon walls that gesture toward the sky.

At the base of the mixed-use complex including offices and an upscale shopping mall, the main, 80-foot lobby on the north side of the tower extends from the tower’s core to its perimeter frame. Columns along the exterior slope inwards, defining the street-level appearance while structurally supporting the rest of the tower. Each floor plate is rotated counterclockwise around the core in order to create an ascending, geometric unraveling. Constructed of Jura limestone, the south-facing core wall stands out from the other three glass-enclosed sides of the tower. The tower’s twisted ribbon walls provide asymmetrical flair, but it’s not just for sake of appearance the design consciously maximizes views of the Arabian Gulf and minimizes solar heat gain. A restaurant and observation deck sit at the top of the tower in a 130-foot-high space. Visitors are treated to tremendous, unobstructed views of the city thanks to a cantilevered truss system that supports the curtain wall and reduces the amount of columns needed.

Named One of the Best Inventions of 2011 by Time Magazine, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s (SOM) Al Hamra Firdous Tower will be the tallest building in Kuwait. The iconic structure appears to fold into itself, creating an efficient form designed to maximize views and minimize solar heat gain. The commercial complex will be complete early this year and is comprised of offices, a health club and a high-end shopping mall with theaters and a food court. Continue reading for the architect’s project description.

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Client / Developer: Al Hamra Real Estate and Entertainment Co., Mr. Abdulaziz Alhumaidhi Location: Kuwait City, Kuwait Site Area: 10,000 m2 Size: 195,000 m2 Height: 412 m (74 stories) Completion Year: 2011

Rising 412 meters in the center of Kuwait City, Al Hamra Firdous Tower is a landmark tower of iconic sculptural form that offers breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf. The purity of its form, expressed by a simple operation of removal, will be a timeless, elegant marker in the heart of Kuwait.

With the aim of maximizing views and minimizing solar heat gain on the office floors, a quarter of each floor plate is chiseled out of the south side, shifting from west to east over the height of the tower. The result reveals a rich, monolithic stone at the south wall framed by the graceful, twisting ribbons of torqued walls, defining the iconic form of the tower.

The building’s appearance resembles a subtle, elegant modern sculpture or an enshrouded figure with its delicate glass veil reflecting the profile of the peninsula. The resultant form will provide transparency on the north, east and west sides towards the Gulf and near-complete opacity side against the severe desert sun to the south.

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The solid south wall is generated in order to decrease the solar radiation. Openings are based on the relationship of the envelope and its position in relation to the sun. The geometry of the interior wall is generated and responds to the need to minimize solar heat gain. This wall not only protects the building from critical environmental conditions, but also takes on the role of the structural spine of the building. The point at the apex of the tower not only resolves this complex geometry of the carved flared walls but also implies the continuation of the sculptural form infinitely upwards. On each floor of the tower a skybridge connects the two wings and presents a dramatic spatial experience with deep sculpted windows in the south wall providing dramatic views south towards the city, the peninsula and the infinite desert beyond.

The tower will welcome tenants with a soaring 20-meter tall lobby featuring a high articulated lamella structure which supports the tower above and articulates the space below. The geometry of the lobby area is generated by applying the principles of lamella structures. The structure provides continuity from the building to its footing and acts as a strengthening component while being completely integrated with the structure.

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Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Design Partner: Gary Haney, AIA Managing Partner: Peter Magill, AIA Technical Partner: Carl Galioto, FAIA Project Manager: Donald R. Williams, AIA Senior Designer: Aybars Asci, AIA Senior Technical Coordinator: Mark Igou, AIA Designer: Dean MacKenzie Technical Coordinators: Samuel Ness, Eric Van Epps, James Mallory, Noppon Pisutharnon, Yasemin Kologlu, Souraya Daouk, Tobias Schwinn

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Associate Architect: Al-Jazera Consultants

Structural Engineer: Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP Structural Partner: Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathais Senior Structural Engineer: Aarom Mazeika

MEP Engineer: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP Director, MEP Engineering: Roger Frechette, PE, LEED AP Senior Mechanical Engineer: Philip Sawyer Senior Electrical Engineer: Ermenegildo Di Iorio Mechanical Engineer: Michael Scotter

Project Manager: Turner Construction Co., International General Contractor: Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Co. Telecom, Acoustics, Security, IT: Shen Milsom & Wilke Vertical Transportation: Van Deusen & Associates Facade Maintenance: Entek Engineering Fire Protection: Arup Geotechnical: Consultancy Group Company Landscape: Francis Landscapes Lighting: OVI (Office for Visual Interaction) Traffic: Parsons Brinkerhoff