summer 08 | BPM


By Winston Gieseke

Chicago architects design the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste and zero car city for $22 billion in Abu Dhabi

Since Chicago has taken great strides toward becoming a greener city, it seems a good place to find architects to design headquarters for the world's greenest city.

I'm referring to Masdar, the $22 billion development in Abu Dhabi, which is the world's first ever zero-carbon, zero-waste and zero car city. The Chicago architecture firm of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill has been chosen to design "the world's first positive energy, mixed-use building," which promises to be "the first building in history to generate power for its own assembly, through development of its solar roof pier before the underlying complex."

A lot of firsts, eh?

If all goes according to plan (which might in itself be an architectural first), the self-dependent structure will not only serve as the city's centerpiece, it will have a whopping 1.4 million square-ft floor plan and cost an estimated $300 million to build.

In addition to the many firsts involved, the building also takes some large and small honors. It will feature on of the world's largest photovoltaic arrays while employing the largest solar thermal-driven cooling and dehumidification system. And it will be the lowest energy consumer per square meter for a modern Class A office building in a hot, humid climate. It will also consume about 70% less water than other similarly sized buildings.

Adrian Smith, a partner at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill, says "Masdar Headquarters is one of the most significant developments of our time," while setting (according to fellow partner Gordon Gill) "a new paradigm for the way buildings are designed, constructed and inhabited."

Which, by definition, will be a first.