6 oct 08 | The National

Meraas tower to join Dubai's buildings in the sky

By Bradley Hope

Meraas Development, a new Dubai Government-controlled property company, announced its Dh350bn Jumeirah Gardens project at Cityscape today.

The master development includes three buildings by the Chicago architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill. The centerpiece is 1 Dubai, a more than 600-metre building that comprises three towers connected by sky bridges. The building would be about three quarters as high as the Burj Dubai, which is located just across Sheikh Zayed Road.

"Dubai is always redefining itself," said Sina al Kazim, the chief executive of Meraas Development. "We are going to compliment the other developers."

He said the new tower, which would be among the highest in the region, would be Meraas's contribution to the architectural uniqueness of the city. The sheer scale of the project meant it would take 12 years to build.

1 Dubai would be a mixed-use building. Besides its height, the most unique feature is a series of glass sky bridges between the buildings. Mr. Kazim said they would include duplex apartments as well as restaurants.

Another of the buildings Meraas is planning is Park Gate, which is made up of three pairs of buildings that are connected by a shallow archway at the top. Suspended from the middle of the tunnel-like structures are "hanging gardens". Initial construction has already begun on this project in the Satwa and Al Wasl neighborhoods, Mr. Kazim said.

A third building is called 1 Park Avenue. It has a curvaceous, wavy design that includes several components that make it environmentally sustainable. There will be solar panels and wind turbines that are built in to the design of the building.

The iconic buildings would be spread throughout the massive development, along with smaller towers and a park that is "half the size of Central Park", Mr. Kazim said. Seven islands will be built just off the coast with mostly low-rise, residential buildings.

A 14km boulevard with a tram system would snake through the project. And water taxis will be available on a network of canals.

Meraas Development is part of Meraas Holding, a conglomerate that also has hospitality, investment and education arms.

Meraas was earlier considering even more dramatic plans for Jumeirah Gardens, including one architectural plan for a group of buildings that fused at the top and rose more than 2.4km.

Nakheel also debuted a new tall tower last night, the 1km high Al Burj, which is planned for the Nakheel Harbour overlooking the Palm Jebel Ali.