Posts Tagged ‘dubai’

I finally found Dubai’s cultural center

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

My colleague David Park joined me in Dubai last week. As David and I walked around the spice souk we smelled the spices and loved some of their textural qualities. As we left to catch the boat across the creek, we found a wonderful area called the Baskakija, near the Dubai Museum.

The Baskakija is filled with traditional buildings with narrow lanes of galleries and restauarants and a great trendy hotel that is filled with wonderful unexpected art that one could see in Santa Fe or Taos. The shadows are deep and the door textures have wonderful details. The hotel has a great lobby and two great courtyards. One presents the huge doll figures you’ll see in the pictures below. The tonal qualities of the openings are toned subtlety, almost like a charcoal or pencil drawing. The sculptures are very well done, but also eerie generally. It’s an interesting environment.

The museums of Sadayat Island

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Last week, I visited the Emirates Place Hotel in Abu Dhabi and saw an exhibit on the Sadayat Island museums. Sadayat Island has been developed on-and-off over the past few years, and may now be stalled a bit once again. The plan is to bring some of the greatest art and architecture to Abu Dhabi.

The building designs are wonderfully imaginative, including the zen-inspired Maritime Museum by Tadao Ando (about which I’ll post details tomorrow), the beautifully arabic Jean Nouvel dome with its wonderful shade and filtered light, and of course Zaha Hadid’s otherworldly, soft, and sensual performing arts venues. I am concerned that the local construction wooers will not be able to render Hadid well here, having seen the construction disaster that is her opera hall in Guangzhou, China.

A separate room features Sir Norman Foster design for the Zayed Museum, which is an amazing centerpiece. I’ll profile that on Wednesday.

The overall exhibit talks about Abu Dhabi and the importance of bringing culture to the Emirates. The legacy of Sheikh Zayed will certainly be solidified through these great projects if they move forward. The only one that troubles me is Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim–it looks like a typical bunch of toys left unkept. Some compare it with the Bilbao project, which is somewhat more controlled. This one will not have much usable space as it’s just a bunch of forms tossed about.

The magnificent Burj Khalifa

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Being at the base of the Burj Kahlifa at night is like being in a city in the future. In fact, it’s modern-day Dubai, UAE. Standing beneath it, one does not see the emptyness of the barren desert nor the half-finished towers surrounding the burj, only its immediate surroundings. The landscape designed by swa group is magnificent, and the water show and sound presentation were amazing. The quality of the overall build is an amazing accomplishment for Dubai.

There were thousands of people there last night and also this morning–it does not seem to lack visitors and shoppers. The area in which the burj sits is a world class destination called Downtown Dubai. The area is more like Disney’s Epcot Center then a real downtown–everything in Dubai is a fantasy.

Emaar Properties have done a magnificent job in the design and the end product. The landscape is magnificent, and the tower details are great as are the two side buildings with the sharp angles. The color is very modern and the glass well detailed.

Congratulations to Emaar and to Adrian Smith while he was head of design at SOM Chicago for creating this architectural vision of the future.