Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Headquarters by KPF


Photo by H.G. Esch

All images, drawings and information courtesy of KPF.  Please note individual credits on the images. Copyright by desMena.

Kohn Pedersen Fox have provided us with some information on their project in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Type: Offices
Status: Completed 2007
Start: 1997
Size: 70,000 sq.m
Client: Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Corporation
Architect: Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (International) PA, London
Team: David Leventhal, David Doody, Kevin Flanagan,  Kieran Breen.
Project Manager: CRSS International Inc
Quantity Surveyor: Hanscomb Inc
Structural Engineers: Buro Happold
M&E: Buro Happold
Interior: Gensler and Associates
Landscape: EDAW
Lighting: Isometrix
Lift: Van Duesen and Associates

-2008 Best Commercial/Office Building,
-Cityscape Middle East Real Estate Awards
-2008 ULI Awards for Excellence: Europe Finalist
-Chicago Anthenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design 2008 InternationalArchitecture Award
-The Gulf States Building Awards Office/Commercial Project of the year Award 2008


Photo by H.G. Esch

The creation of a corporate headquarters…

…is an important moment in the life of a company. A great headquarters becomes both a symbol of the company and the symbol of the city. A headquarters building should bring people together and create a work environment both pleasant and stimulating. In the design of a new headquarters there is the opportunity to shape the workplace in a way that reflects the aspirations and culture of the company. To begin, we thought of a space that would be like a courtyard, in the tradition of Islamic architecture. Here the courtyard is formed by two bars set apart as wings connected by a central vertical courtyard atrium.

Photo by H.G. Esch

We examined the city of Abu Dhabi: its strong urban grid. The plan reflects this. The wing to the north follows the city grid while the wing to the south appears to open like a book, opening to the sea, the vista and towards Mecca. The opening draws the sea and green of the Corniche into the building. A series of gardens in the sky become an extension of the green parkway.

Photo by H.G. Esch


Photo by H.G. Esch

The scheme is simple. ADIA’s future requirements demand a large single floor plate with a large central common zone on each floor for meeting and social interaction. This central zone has become our vertical atrium garden, the heart of our scheme unifies the whole building and represents the organisation and its openness. The design concept further refines the idea of creating an indigenous form, a form inspired by the special character of this waterfront site and the buildings importance as an international headquarters. The key to the design is the acknowledgement of the profound importance of the sea in the development of the site and of the urban plan as a garden city. The growth of the city begun at the old fort.

Graphic by KPF

Over time, a green zone was established and then extended along the formal planted roads. These roads which pass the site are like great arms reaching to the sea and linking the fort to the sea and its commerce. The gardens of the fort and those adjacent to them create a wide green zone with further reinforces the seaward connection. Our site is incorporated into this garden zone. The success of this urban design strategy for landscaping has earned Abu Dhabi the title “Garden of the Gulf”. The scheme has two great arms or fingers reaching into the sea, the extensive ground floor planting reinforces the original urban landscape strategy, tying our site to the urban plan.


Plan by KPF


Elevation  by KPF

Environmental Principles

The Abu Dhabi climate is hot, dry maritime climate. The airtight building envelope therefore is designed to provide a high degree of protection against heat gain from solar radiation and high ambient air temperatures.
The building is alive and responsive to natural forces. Its “active” façade comprises three layers: a low-e-coated, double-glazed outer skin, a single glass internal skin, and a solar-controlled blind in the cavity. This composite provides a high shading coefficient and U-value and lowers the cooling load on the building. The shading co-efficient is higher than the more regularly reflective glazing systems used in the Middle East. The return air path and the internal blinds enhance the performance. Between the single glazed element and the double glazed element an internal blind drops and adjusts while being continually cooled by the return air coming from the occupied space (23ºC). The air is extracted from this void and returned to a variable air volume air handling unit. Virtually no heat from the façade is radiated to the building occupier, allowing the user to stay cool and comfortable. In addition, the façade acts as an air return path.


Photo by H.G. Esch

The building Management System (BMS) enables close control and monitoring of the building’s mechanical and electrical services. The BMS allows building occupants to operate all plant more efficiently whilst allowing investigations into building performance (energy management), leading to improved plant performance planned preventative maintenance. The benefit of the energy management capability is to reduce the operating energy costs through integrated control of heating, cooling and ventilation. As part of the energy management process, the BMS will provide the ability to monitor continuous energy usage and operational status.


Section by KPF

Linked to a Building Management System, the perforated blinds respond to the position of the sun; they close as the sun strikes the façade and open when the façade falls into shadow. The operation of the blinds can be over-ridden by occupants using a remote control, a device that can also be employed to adjust room temperature and lighting levels. The internal lighting uses a special control system whereby each fitting is addressable and can be dimmed according to its location and user requirements. The control system includes a presence sensor that can turn lights off in areas where there is no activity to conserve energy.
Open-plan and cellular office spaces were required, as were zones for interaction and meetings. The latter are located within a central landscaped atrium and a series of sky gardens – in the Islamic tradition of planted interior spaces. The atria incorporate natural ventilation, while sheltering public spaces from the harsh western sun.

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