Sports City Tower
AREP and Hadi Simaan bestow an icon, with drama and engineering finesse, on a rapidly developing city in the Persian Gulf country of Qatar.
The Sports City Tower, constructed in Doha, Qatar, for the 15th Asian Games last November and December is not a practical building. The 430,000-square-foot structure’s usable floor area is paltry considering its 1,000-foot height. But French firm AREP was not instructed by its client, Qatar’s heir apparent Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad, to worry about practical issues. They were instructed to produce a building that would become a memorable symbol for the fast-growing country.
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The 51-floor, parabolic-shaped tower, which served as a giant torch for the games last year, also includes other building components cantilevered from its concrete core: an 18-story hotel, a three-story sports museum, a four-story presidential apartment for Sheikh Bin Hamad, a three-story rotating restaurant, and a two-story viewing deck at the top. Because of delays at the outset (including a change of contractor and architect), the architects had to realize the $175 million project in 18 months. The tower has not been able to attract an operator for its hotel, thus its interiors have not been finished.
AREP, selected for the project in 2005, worked with a conceptual sketch by local architect Hadi Simaan, who had envisioned a structure whose tapering shape would enhance the presence of the flame for the Asian Games and contrast sharply with the flat desert.
Developed closely with structural engineers in the London office of Arup, the final form consists of a 3-to-6-foot-thick, reinforced-concrete cylinder (the core), varying from 40 to 60 feet in diameter, encircled with radiating networks of cantilevered steel beams on each floor of its building modules. The modules themselves are composed of steel columns, metal decking, concrete slabs, and outer tension and compression ring beams, which support glass-paneled outer walls. The bottom of each module is covered with glass-fiber-reinforced concrete. Beams, as well as steel struts tying all the structural components together, are bolted through the concrete core and hence are anchored into place, transferring vertical loads from perimeter columns and ring beams to the core.
Outside the modules, AREP suspended a taught, transparent steel-mesh cladding—giving the building its shape—mounted on a steel frame attached to the building’s outer ring beams. The gridlike mesh’s vertical spacing gets wider as it moves up the building, adjusting to increasing wind. The planned lobby for the hotel is a 230-foot-high space, with a 3-story grand stair and marble floor that will have subtle lanes etched into its surface, reminiscent of a running track.
Formal name of project: Sports City Tower
Location: Doha, Qatar
Gross square footage: 40 000 m²
Total construction cost: 175 Millions USD
Owner: State Of Qatar
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