Saturday, May 20, 2017

Inspiring architecture

One of the most striking things about Dubai is its skyline, the elegant needle of the Burj Khalifa double the height of any tower around it, the planes and curves, the geometric, futuristic or neo-classical facades...

Any one single building along the 12 lane highway of Sheikh Zayed Boulevard might be noteworthy but the striking skyscrapers, each with completely original features line up by the dozens and I can barely keep up for gawking. Since I moved here, I've wanted to do a post on the architecture but I've put it off again and again, waiting for the perfect photo or to learn more about an especially iconic building. I have picked up some tidbits, and have gone to some lengths to get shots of favorite examples, but I'm still daunted by the sheer numbers of remarkable buildings.

There are actually several different skylines in Dubai. Skyscrapers are clustered in a couple of areas. The area I'm most familiar with is anchored on one end by an Etisalat (telecom company) tower with a golf ball full of telecommunications equipment perched atop it (they have buildings all over the UAE with golf balls atop) and by the Dubai World Trade Center, the first skyscraper built in Dubai in the late 1970s.
golf ball atop an etisalat building
This bit of skyline makes a kind of "canyon" with a single row of towers on either side of Sheikh Zayed Boulevard (which is actually a highway rather than a boulevard.)

After the World Trade Center Tower, you pass hotel, business and apartment towers. There's a London clock tower knock off, a building with a kind of maze detail, the
iconic slant roofed pair of Emirates Towers beside the Dubai International Financial Center (more commonly just called by it's initials, DIFC). At the DIFC there's The Gate which is covered in a mesh curtain and behind, some funny buildings that resemble penguins.

Slant roofed Emirates Towers

The Gate at DIFC

Do they look like penguins to you?

There's also the Dusit Thani, a Thai hotel building supposedly designed to evoke hands pressed together at the palms in the Namaste pose.
Dusit Thani- Namaste

Right around the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, the skyline spreads out. The Burj Khalifa has some space around it as the mall and fountain pool are quite low. A few hotel towers reach 50 and 60 stories but they seem tiny in comparison.  Business Bay, where I live, has towers following the line of the canal into the "bay" area. Highlights in this area include the Swiss Cheese building and the Ubora Tower which is narrower at the bottom and swoops up and out in a curve.

have to find my much better pic of the swiss cheese tower (white on right)

Business Bay
Heading south, this skyline area peters out right around the Marriott Marquis twin hotel towers. The Marriott towers have "knobs" on top that twinkle, I always thought of them as being like Marquise cut diamonds but I've learned that the towers structure is inspired by the date palm so maybe they are supposed to be clustered fronds or dates? Either way, it's the worlds tallest hotel.

World's tallest hotel

Also in my area, they are completing one of the last buildings designed by Dame Zaha Hadid, the famous British- Iraqi architect. It's got a very cool cut out design and curved glass walls....

As you head south a bit further you come to other clusters of skyscrapers. The most notable grouping in the Marina area. In the Marina they have the twisty building which was designed by the same architectural firm who did the Burj Khalifa and the Trump Tower in Chicago.

twisty tower
Marina skyline at night

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