Design change delays 'Big Ben'

A complete overhaul in the design of the US $60 million (AED221 million) Al Yaquob tower on Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road has delayed the project, Construction Week has learned.

The ?Big Ben? tower will now be a high-rise hotel instead of a commercial development. (Sevag Davidian/ITP Images)
The ?Big Ben? tower will now be a high-rise hotel instead of a commercial development. (Sevag Davidian/ITP Images)

A complete overhaul in the design of the US $60 million (AED221 million) Al Yaquob tower on Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road has delayed the project, Construction Week has learned.

The 72-storey, 330m tower, which has been designed by Adnan Saffarini, was earlier designed to incorporate a Big Ben-style clock face at the top and was initially conceived as a residential and office tower.

But the building is now set to become a Marriott Hotel, prompting a major change of approach from the contractor.

"Going from a residential building to a hotel means every floor plate and everything on it has to change. Everything we wanted to build has been put on hold," said Rasheed Mikati, director, ACC.

"It has gone from being simple to very complicated. But it isn't a problem for us as we know we will be compensated for the delay, but on the other hand we don't like to see an ACC sign on formwork which is not going up a floor a week."

While building a residential tower with offices is essentially a straightforward undertaking, a hotel is more complex as the hotel operator is strongly involved and has to approve various aspects of the design.

Dubai Municipality is also required to issue a hotel license.

"And like all contractors and consultants, they are overstretched and under-staffed," added Mikati.

ACC hopes to receive the finalised plans by the end of the summer.

This is yet another design change for Al Yaquob tower.

The project grabbed headlines at the beginning of 2006 following a dispute between the developer and Dubai Municipality over featuring a clock face at the top of the tower.

Dubai Municipality initially gave consent for the tower but not the clock face, which was to be the highest clock in the world at 330m.

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