7 may 08 | Architectural Record

AS+GG tapped for ultra-green project in UAE

By Tim McKeough

Desert buildings that produce more energy than they consume may no longer be a mirage. Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) have won a competition to design Masdar Headquarters, a 1.6-million-square-foot, zero-waste, zero-carbon facility that it predicts will generate not only enough power to run itself, but also surplus energy to help fuel buildings surrounding it. Masdar is Abu Dhabi's multibillion-dollar initiative to further the development and commercialization of sustainable energy. The building will be the heart of Masdar City, a 2.3-square-mile city master planned by Foster + Partners.

AS+GG's design features a sprawling canopy lined with photovoltaics, resting on 11 massive glass hyperboloids. Underneath the canopy, a series of interconnected volumes, topped by green roofs, provide space for offices, retail stores, and residences. The hyperboloids serve as cooling chimneys that exhaust warm air while also creating interior courtyards with water gardens; they are sculpted to bring diffuse daylight into the facility and block direct sunlight.

The design even aims to reduce energy consumption during construction. "It was designed so that the canopy, photovoltaic roof, and cooling tower structures could all go in first and shade the workers while the they're building the rest of it," says Smith, noting that they will use solar power during construction.

Radically green, the facility is loaded with many other sustainable features. The architects--alums of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill--developed their own patent-pending exterior glazing system to keep the building's interior cool. The facility will be equipped with wind turbines, air-quality sensors, and a thermal-driven cooling and dehumidification system. The project also aims to use 70 percent less water than a conventional mixed-use facility of the same size.

No budget is set for the project, but Smith describes a construction start as "imminent." The scheduled completion date is late 2010.