25 may 10 | The National

Masdar showcased at a Smithsonian Institution's museum

by James Reinl

Masdar Headquarters, the seven-story centrepiece of Masdar City, is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum as part of the 2010 National Design Triennial, which runs until January 9 next year.

The award-winning design from the Chicago-based firm, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, is one of 134 projects from 44 countries selected for an exhibition of ideas that promote green living and social equality.

"Being represented in this exhibit at the Smithsonian is a great thing for our firm, for Masdar and for the cause of sustainable architecture around the globe," said Gordon Gill, one of the design firm's founders and partners.

The wall-mounted exhibit features a video presentation that describes Masdar City, the world's first waste-free and carbon-neutral home to some 40,000 people currently being built on the outskirts of the capital, as a "role model for the world".

Visitors learn how the 134,662 sq m headquarters will rank among the world's most sustainable buildings when it is completed, thanks to one of the biggest ever photovoltaic and solar-panel arrays mounted on its roof.

Drawing inspiration from the wind towers of Dubai's downtown Bastakiya district, the design features 11 towering cones that allow daylight into the building and naturally ventilate the interior by drawing warm air upwards to be carried away by the breeze.

Once completed, the building will host executives from the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, developers of Masdar City, and the secretariat of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), a new international body that will promote green power in developing countries.

Cara McCarty, a curator for the exhibition, called Why Design Now?, said the museum had chosen projects that demonstrate a "revolution taking place within all areas of design", in which designers are addressing some of the problems facing mankind.

"The self-contained, sustainable Masdar City project applies new approaches to architecture and engineering on an urban scale," she said. "This vast experiment pushes the ideas of alternative energy, aiming to be the world's first car-free, carbon neutral, zero-waste city powered by renewable energy."