Site visit: Damac Towers by Paramount
Construction Week visits the site of what will be the world’s first Paramount-branded hotel
Building four towers, each consisting of 56 floors, all at the same time, on top of a ten-storey podium. You couldn’t script it. Except in Dubai you can. And, what’s more, Damac Properties has, with the construction of the iconic Damac Towers by Paramount development.
The US movie giant, through its licensee, Paramount Hotel & Resorts (PHR), was brought in by the Dubai developer to collaborate on the $1bn project, and work got underway in September 2013.
If movie producers from Paramount were ever considering a construction theme for their next blockbuster then this project, in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, could provide an interesting backdrop. The development reaches higher into the Dubai skyline day-by-day and its contractor is in a race against time to meet a tight deadline.
“Developing such a huge project, with four towers all being constructed simultaneously, has brought some challenges, but we are delighted with the way the project has grown in the past year,” said Niall McLoughlin, senior vice-president of Damac Properties.
“Damac Towers by Paramount is already an iconic development coming up in the Burj Area and we look forward to opening the first ever Paramount Hotel and Resort anywhere in the world.”
The 3.7mn ft2 project consists of three blocks with a total of 1,200, one-, two- and three-bed serviced apartments, and a fourth tower containing the Damac Towers by Paramount five star, 800-room hotel.
The developer said the hotel will offer an ambiance and reflection of the Hollywood glamour, synonymous with Paramount Pictures’ 101-year history.
The apartments, which feature fully-fitted kitchens and services that also include valet parking, concierge, housekeeping, in-room beauty treatments and a 24-hour kids’ club, will be managed by Damac Maison, the hospitality division of Damac Properties. Owners can add their residence in the ‘rental pool’ while they are away, allowing apartments to be rented and managed on their behalf by the developer.
And the Paramount theme is evident throughout the apartments and hotel, with famous quotes from films and stars incorporated into the décor, as well as ‘props’ and other movie-related paraphernalia.
Thomas van Vliet, chief executive officer of PHR, which has licensed the Paramount Pictures brand for the development, said: “Damac Towers by Paramount will include a series of dynamic and sensory experiences that live up to our mantra of producing hospitality that is unmistakable, unforgettable and consequentially unmissable.”
The four towers sit on top of a multi-level plaza, which will contain eight themed food and beverage concepts, meeting and events facilities, a private screening room, wellness and fitness centres, seven swimming pools, a kids club, retail and merchandise units.
Piling and excavation work for the project has been completed by National Piling Company.
Main contractor, TAV, which has taken on the full scope of works in a contract signed in September 2013 worth around $272mn, has been busy at the project for over 15 months.
The structure of the podium is complete and the core walls on each of the four towers has reached the 16th floor, with the slabs also up on the same level.
McLoughlin said: “Works on site now is a combination of block, plaster, façade cladding and MEP – all of which are currently underway.
“The current floor-to-floor cycle is running at six days, so we are doing four slabs in one week. We are building one floor a week for the four towers simultaneously.”
The total number of floors in the entire development will exceed the total number within the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, when it is completed next year.
Ugur Anliatamer, Dubai branch manager, TAV Construction, revealed that due to the amount of materials and manpower required for Damac Towers by Paramount there have been challenges relating to logistics and stock control. However, he added that these are being overcome and the project is set for completion by its target date of the end of 2016.
He told Construction Week: “The major thing is the resources. We are increasing these now in order to achieve the programme of delivery. Given the size and scale of this project, there are always going to be challenges but overcoming them is what drives us on to deliver a high-end, luxury project we can all be proud of.”
There are currently 2,500 workers on site, with that number set to peak at 4,000 as structures complete and work on interiors ramps up. Consultancy firm KEO also has around 50 members of staff at the project doing project management, construction management and supervision and design management.
“We are doing night shifts and working on Fridays so there is a dedicated team from the contractor and the consultant working day and night, doing exactly the same scope of work,” said McLoughlin.
Workers have been separated into individual teams for each tower – for concrete, formwork (provided by Doka and Peri), shuttering etc – while the podium also has its own dedicated team. A total of eight tower cranes are currently in use on the site, with a stationary concrete pump serving each tower.
Anliatamer said: “The challenge first of all for high-rise buildings in general is the high level and the simultaneous work has to be done in a chain of activities, starting from the formwork, concreting, workmanship, the cranes – all should be systematic.
“If one area is in trouble, then that means all the towers are in trouble. This combined work needs a great deal of care.”
An example of the care taken was during the sweltering heat of the summer months, when temperatures reached as high as 50°C. In order to safeguard staff and the work they were doing, a wild air method was used.
McLoughlin explained: “During the construction of the project and to allow the project to move smoothly onwards, despite the fact of having high temperatures and humidity, we provided a suitable atmosphere to work in. Wild air is a controlled temperature within the building through temporary equipment which allowed the work to move smoothly. This was included in TAV’s scope of work.”
Anliatamer was also project director at the Marina 101 development in Dubai Marina, which has experienced some delays and is currently on course for completion next year.
However, he admitted the two developments were very different.
He said: “The difference between the Marina  and here is this is more fast-tracked and more dedicated. The Marina had some difficulty in finding the operator, but with Damac Properties, from day one, the operator was known and the system was known. The other project had huge design changes, so it’s a completely different concept.”
One thing that is similar to Marina 101 is the shortage of space in which to manoeuvre. From what was literally a desert area when the project was first planned, there are now three developers working on neighbouring schemes, next to one of the busiest roads in Dubai.
Anliatamer said: “Over the last six months [it] has become more congested as the location is in a prime area.
“Logistics-wise, we are using the same entrance and same exit and same spaces.
“There is lots of material that needs to be stored temporarily, short-term and long-term.
“There are limited spaces allocated by Dubai Properties as a common area, everybody is fighting to take these spaces.”