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My favourite building: Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

Museum of Islamic Art, Doha

COMMENT, Business, Doha, Museum of Islamic Art

One of renowned architect IM Pei's last projects stands out to developer Robert Lee as his favourite building

I believe the notion of a ‘favourite building’ evolves over time,” says Robert Lee, CEO of developer Bahrain Bay. “When I was five years old, my favourite building was the nearby fire station.

“However, my favorite building of late has to be the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.
“Designed by IM Pei, this building is awe-inspiring in design grandeur yet invitingly simple in its architecture. I believe this is the last major building by IM Pei, who is better known for Louvre Pyramid.

“The structural design of square and octagonal blocks by Leslie Robertson allows the entire central rotunda to be column-free to appreciate the sense of harmony. There is a sense of hush that envelopes everyone who enters the building.

“As a developer, I tend to lean towards function over form whenever I look at a building. While the debate continues these days about so-called “starchitects” whose designs leave dysfunctional edifices, Museum of Islamic Art in Doha in my opinion has struck the right balance.

“From an urban scale point of view, the museum sits on a reclaimed island which will ensure that the building will not be overshadowed by any new towering edifice.

Nevertheless, the gentle proportion and timeless simplicity of the structure provides an interesting juxtaposition against the backdrop of ever-growing modern skyscrapers of West Bay.

“A must-stop for anyone visiting Doha, I try to spend a couple of hours every chance I get.”
The Museum of Islamic Art was designed by IM Pei for the Qatar Museums Authority. It sits on the southern side of Doha’s Corniche and has been built on a man-made island created around 60m off the shore.

It contains two buildings – one main five-storey structure for exhibition space and a smaller education wing, both of which are connected across a central courtyard.

The Museum of Islamic Art was built by Turkish contractor Baytur. It was initially scheduled to open in 2006 but after a series of interior design changes it finally opened to the public in December 2008.

Robert Lee, chief executive, Bahrain Bay
Robert Lee joined the Bahrain Bay team as CEO in January 2012, to lead the development of the project’s progress.

Lee has 25 years of real estate investment experience, including development, investment, sales and marketing, asset management and advisory.

Since arriving in the Gulf in early 2000, Lee has held senior positions at leading real estate companies, including Emaar, Al Futtaim, and Nakheel, where he was instrumental in bringing forward some of its iconic projects, including the Palm Jumeirah.

Bahrain Bay is the Kingdom of Bahrain’s first masterplanned mixed-use waterfront community, situated off the north-east coast of the capital Manama. The $2.5bn development has a masterplan created by New York-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and has been designed to create a fusion of residential, commercial, retail, tourism, and community facilities and public amenities.

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Construction Week - Issue 751
Oct 13, 2019