Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Dubai-based Mashreq Bank has chosen Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) to design its new headquarters tower as part of an international design competition held earlier this year. The 32-story-tall design is conceived as a classic and timeless addition to the Dubai skyline. Its boldly cantilevered form will be a new icon in Dubai taking its place with SOM’s other city landmarks which include Rolex Tower, Cayan (formerly Infinity) Tower) and the world-famous Burj Khalifa.
“We designed the building to act as a quiet sculptural form within Dubai’s skyline,” says SOM Design Director Ross Wimer, FAIA — who also designed Cayan Tower. The building’s design builds on the sustainable self-shading strategy that SOM pioneered in the Middle East with the renowned National Commercial Bank in Jeddah, completed in 1983 and benefits from SOM’s interdisciplinary collaborative approach using the firm’s proprietary HPD (High Performance Design) methodology.
The building is designed to be the new headquarters of Mashreq Bank and for other sophisticated office tenants. The L-shaped typical floor plate opens to the north with its orientation allowing offices on both sides of the courtyard to have clear glazing protected from solar gain by the building itself. These facades enhance occupant views of Sheikh Zayed Road. “The building is environmentally appropriate while utilizing clear glass,” Wimer says of the unique form and its orientation. The same clear glass transforms the building into a lantern of light during evening hours.
The glass facades of the building capture daylight and repel solar gain through a sophisticated series of horizontal and vertical shading devices that articulate the building’s primary facades. The design mitigates solar gain without obscuring the floor to ceiling glass’ access to views of the surrounding cityscape, including the Burj Khalifa to the east. The screen elements provide dynamic perspectives of the building when viewed from different angles. Its bold massing can appear transparent or massive depending upon the specific view.
The building’s efficiently designed floor plan combines a proper lease span and building module coordinated with the appropriate structural bay to afford a flexible plan allowing maximum efficiency for both bank office standards and those of discerning single floor or multi-tenant floor office tenants. The podium is organized in an eight-story-tall square base and includes parking, a two-level Conference Center with a 350-seat auditorium and a Banquet Hall that will accommodate 100 persons. Staff Dining Room and Cafeteria are located on Level 9, where they directly access the podium’s landscaped rooftop terrace.
Executive offices occupy the top two levels where the square footprint of the tower’s base is reprised. Executive offices and meeting rooms are configured around the perimeter of the floor with lounge and informal meeting spaces within an interior ring. The Board Room occupies the center of the plan — suspended like a jewel from the surrounding structure and visible from the street below.
“Mashreq Bank Headquarters Tower extends SOM’s legacy of designing Dubai’s best buildings,” SOM Consulting Managing Partner George J. Efstathiou, FAIA, RIBA, says. “It proves that you don’t have to be the tallest or the largest to be an icon.”
About Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban-planning firms in the world, with a 75-year reputation for design excellence and a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since its inception, SOM has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with more than 1,700 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award—in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi.