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Design focus: ADNOC Headquarters, Abu Dhabi

A parallelogram-shaped structure on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche has been designed by HOK to respond to the path of the sun, enabling “passive cooling”

Glass and granite make up  the building’s form.
Glass and granite make up the building’s form.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s (ADNOC) new headquarters embodies a “less is more” philosophy, according to its architect, HOK.

The exterior frame of the 75-story tower is clad in granite, to convey a sense of permanence that reflects the firm’s ethos, according to the design team.

“The sides rise to an architrave free of the building mass, creating the image of a monumental arch rising next to the Arabian Gulf.  The tower’s simple, classic form serves as a recognisable focal point for people travelling to and from the city,” the architects explain.

To provide the best solar orientation, HOK designed the headquarters in the shape of
a parallelogram.

The tower’s north side faces the waterfront and is fully glazed, offering expansive views and taking advantage of the limited direct sunlight. The south side, where sunlight is stronger, incorporates finely produced glass with sun shades.

Cladding the east and west sides in granite screens  protects the 65-story glass core from harsh sunlight. These strategies, combined with efficient building systems, help achieve LEED Gold certification standards.

The shape of the building’s footprint responds to the path of the sun. The side nearest the Arabian Gulf faces north, providing minimal heat gain and unobstructed views of the water through clear glass panels. Columns are located approximately 6m from the northern perimeter, allowing the structure to be cantilevered from this side and creating a completely unencumbered interior space.

The south side of the building is coated in a double wall of insulated and porous glass, with horizontal sun shades that mitigate direct sunlight. An LED lighting system on this exterior enhances the tower’s presence at night. The lighting display can be programmed to change colour, patterns, and intensity to celebrate holidays or for special events.

The sides of the building facing east and west are sheathed in Bethel White granite (named after a mining town in Vermont ), which was selected for its durability and consistent colour. These house service elevators, fire stairs, and equipment rooms. To preserve the architecture’s simple form and clean lines, they are carefully detailed so that access hatches, ventilation louvres, and maintenance equipment are hidden from view.

The building can accommodate up to 4,000 ADNOC employees, who moved in between April and September 2016.

The HQ is located on Abu Dhabi’s Corniche, which stretches along the city’s west side  and features a seaside boardwalk with park areas and beaches. The surrounding areas offer public amenities, and connect to a planted area to the east, where there is an underground parking garage.

Adjacent to the new building are ADNOC’s 1970s headquarters and support buildings, which remained operational throughout the construction of the new structure

The north-side building entrance features a large, stainless-steel canopy supported by a single column. It repeats the triangular and parallelogram shapes of the building in its pattern of aluminum louvres. Complementing its design is an angular reflecting pool in front of the entrance.

Designed to appear as a seamless glazed façade, the glass walls behind and above the canopy are supported by a structural steel cable system.

The team said it designed the workplace within to inspire creativity, teamwork and critical thinking among ADNOC’s employees.

“To provide flexible interior space, offices are laid out in a modular design,” the architect explains.

“The main floor space is arranged to draw natural light [from the north] deep into the floor plate. Private offices are along the east, west, and south core corridors. This leaves most of the floor plate for low workstations and creates a sense of a single, unified space with direct views of the sea.

Conference rooms located at the southeast and southwest corners offer views over the city.

“On the top floor is an executive dining area with an outdoor terrace.” 

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Construction Week - Issue 741
May 11, 2019