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Al Faisaliah, Riyadh

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Work is progressing on site in Riyadh on the Al Faisaliah Complex, the flagship high-rise development of the King Faisal Foundation. A joint venture between Foster and Partners and Buro Happold is responsible for the design and supervision of the project. The development includes a landmark 260m-high office tower, a 224-bedroom five-star hotel, residential accommodation, a retail mall, banqueting facilities, car parking, landscaping and infrastructure.

The development, set around an urban plaza, enjoys a key site in the centre of Riyadh. The office tower is square in plan, soaring to a tapered point in one smooth, giant arc, and is clad in silver anodised aluminium and grey glass panels. Cantilevered aluminium 'wing' shades project from the curtain walling to provide shelter from the hot Middle Eastern sun, and to contribute to the effectiveness of the controlled internal environment.

Designed around a compact central core, the structure of the tower is expressed in the architecture. Observation decks, corresponding to the principal plant room floors, are featured at decreasing intervals up the tower through giant K-braces, which also tie the four main structural columns together and give the tower its dramatic tiered aesthetic while providing a means of collecting the forces from the concrete floors to transfer them to the corner columns. This allows for more slender columns on the facades. To control distorting deflections, the K-braces incorporate tie-beams, progressively post-tensioned as the building is erected above.

The Al Faisaliah Complex also includes a spectacular multi-purpose banqueting hall, designed to hold up to 2000 people in comfort within a 57m-span, column-free arch structure to ensure maximum visibility from anywhere within the space. To roof this large structure, eight pairs of bow-string arches, arranged like ribs along the hall, are controlled by a series of steel tendons that are being adjusted as slab loads above increase.

Above the banqueting hall, and placed on either side of the lushly planted plaza, stand the in-situ hotel and apartment buildings, both clad in precast concrete, local limestone and timber, brought together in a multi-layered glass facade that will provide maximum control over internal environments.

The Foster and Partners and Buro Happold joint venture has designed the complex to be contemporary, yet efficient, to run with easily maintained lighting, air-conditioning and building management systems. In order to reduce the peak electrical load on the grid, the building incorporates thermal ice storage. Ice created overnight is stored in a rock chamber beneath the retail centre and used to cool interior spaces during the heat of the afternoon. The project is expected to be completed in time for the Riyadh Millennium celebrations.

Eddie Pugh, Tony McLaughlin, Michael Dickson

Architect: Sir Norman Foster & Partners

Structural, building services, civil engineer, quantity surveyor, m&e engineer: Buro Happold

The Saudi Arabian National Museum, Multi Media Centre and Department of Antiquities

King Abdul-Aziz Historical Centre, Riyadh

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, and remains its focus with a wealth of related historical and religious artefacts. Saudi Arabia also has a wealth of Nabatean and other pre-Islamic antiquities.

As part of the urban development of Riyadh, the Arriyadh Development Authority launched a competition in 1996 to design a new Saudi Arabian National Museum. To add historical focus, the chosen site was the grounds of King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud's Riyadh residence, and the date of opening was set as December 1998, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Saudi state.

The competition, won in 1996 by Toronto architect Moriyama & Teshima, with the Royal Ontario Museum and Lord Cultural Resources, left little time for the design and construction of a museum of international standing. The project became even more ambitious, including a major central park, an institute for the study and research of the Al Saud archive, refurbishment of the Palace, historical mud buildings and mosque, a national library and an auditorium.

An outstanding achievement of the Arriyadh Development Authority and the design teams was that design work started in September 1996, with tenders invited in February 1997. The deadline was met without sacrifice of quality and cost control through determination and commitment from all involved. Regular intensive design workshops involving the client, held in Riyadh, Bath and Toronto, accelerated decision-making and dissemination of ideas and information throughout the teams.

The construction contract was let to Saudi Oger in April 1997. There are currently around 2700 people working on the site, and the project is running close to programme.

The 35,000m2 Saudi Arabian National Museum includes galleries and curatorial space. Galleries form a walk-through tour, taking visitors through pre- Islam, into the story of Islam, then through the development of the Saudi State. Riyadh stone external cladding is currently being applied to the completed structure, at a rate of 2200 mechanical fixings a day. Six hundred of the almost 3000 workers on site during August are stonemasons.

Currently over 400 masons on site are working on both the museum and the institute. A total of 356,000 trees and shrubs are currently being planted in the surrounding grounds and parkland.

The building-services systems provide sophisticated close control of environments within the galleries. An underground walk-through tunnel system provides major distribution of building services and utilities for the museum.

Museum architect/engineer: Moriyama & Teshima and Buro Happold joint venture

Architect: Institute, Mosque, Library and Auditorium: Rasem Badran and Omrania

Landscape, roads and infrastructure works: Buro Happold, with landscape architect bbw

Mud-building restoration: beeah

Project manager: Buro Happold

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