Volume 23, Issue 4 - July/August 2009

From the Editor

Upward Spiral
By Ellen Rogers

One of the most “talked about” buildings is currently under construction in the United Arab Emirates—the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company’s Capital Gate project. Designed by RMJM, a United Kingdom-based architectural firm, the tower, which leans 18-degrees westward—14 degrees more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa—has a façade that features 23,000 square meters of steel and glass elements spiraling skywards.

The steel exoskeleton is known as a diagrid and sits above an extensive distribution of 490 piles that have been drilled 30 meters underground to accommodate the gravitational, wind and seismic pressures. The design of the central core, which slants in opposition to the lean of the building, straightening as it grows, has never been attempted before.

The diagrid technology has only been used on a few buildings around the world, including the Hearst Tower in New York, which was featured in the July/August 2006 Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal. Diagrid systems are designed to require less structural steel than a conventional steel frame and are formed by creating triangular structures with diagonal support beams.

When you look at a project such as Capital Gate, it’s clear that advancements in technology continue to drive the way in which buildings are designed. Today we’re seeing projects under construction that are pushing (and folding and curving and bending) the design envelope in ways that have only been made possible in the past decade. It’s an exciting challenge and I look forward to seeing where the designs and technology of the future takes us.

And for a look at a project that’s perhaps a bit closer to home, the Atlanta chapter of the AIA will host a free public tour and lecture at the 1010 Midtown project (featured on the cover of this issue) on Saturday October 17, from 2-5p.m. Designed by Atlanta architectural firm Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio, turn to page 10 to read more about the project. AG

Ellen Rogers is the editor of the Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal.

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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