Speakers

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Pierre Marcout

Pierre Marcout

CEO & Artistic Director
Prisme Entertainment
“Reflecting on The Inauguration of The Burj Khalifa”

Session Summary

This session examined various developments in the Middle East region, paying special attention to several key projects in the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, including the KAFD’s centerpiece project, the Capital Market Authority (CMA) Tower. One presentation looked at the building from a structural design perspective, while another explored the importance of context and how the CMA Tower, as well as several other projects, fit into their settings environmentally, cultural, and economically. Additionally, a report narrated the lead up to the flashy inauguration of the Burj Khalifa in 2010 and the role that these types of celebrations play in giving skyscrapers an urban identity.

Roger Soto, Design Principal GCR, HOK, began by explaining how the CMA Tower is evidence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification strategy. The design of the 385-meter faceted crystalline iconic structure responds to guidelines set forth by the Al Raidah Investment Company. Soto emphasized that the extreme heat and dust in the region strongly influenced the design of the building, and went on to describe how the design addresses these climate conditions through, a high-performance integrated enclosure system that incorporates solar shading, photovoltaics, façade lighting, and an innovative façade access system that allows the building to be cleaned and maintained frequently. Soto concluded by sharing that, “The building will consume only 24% of the energy of average buildings in Riyadh.”

Louis Becker, Partner, Henning Larsen Architects, emphasized that in an increasingly interconnected world, there is a risk of buildings and urban habitats becoming generic if careful consideration is not given to climatic and cultural context. Becker went on to use several projects in the King Abdullah Financial District, for which Henning Larsen Architects created the master plan, as examples that demonstrated the importance of contextualism, including Villas in the Sky. In designing this building, Becker reported that they were inspired by traditional mud houses, which are perfectly suited to the extremely hot and dry climate of Saudi Arabia, to create their design. The Villas' façade is such that from the bottom looking up, it appears as glass, but from the top looking down it appears as a stone façade, a feature that is highly effective in minimizing solar gain. He emphasized, “You must work with the climate, and not against it; work with the culture, and not against it.”

Pierre Marcout, President & Artistic Director, Prism Entertainment Company, concluded the session by bringing the audience’s attention to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Upon its completion in 2010, Marcout was tasked with creating a complex lighting and pyrotechnic display to mark the celebration when the massive tower opened. He noted the importance of a monumental and symbolic launch for a new project, with a great deal of media fanfare, stressing that, “an iconic tower needs a signature.”

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