AECOM – Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Management
AECOM is an eminent American architecture firm with headquarters in Dallas, Texas that provides building services from the start to the end of a project’s development. AECOM provides Archaeology, Architecture & Design, Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture, Asset Management, Construction, Cost Management, Decommissioning & Closure, Economics, Engineering, Environmental Services, International Development, IT & Cyber Security, Operations & Maintenance, Planning & Consulting, Program Management/Construction Management, Risk Management & Resilience, and Technical Services. They aim to aid the design of sustainable, built communities and preserve the natural and social environment. Their design approach includes low-carbon energy generation, water resource management, transportation facilities, and environmental safety.
They have a renowned global reach, serving clients in over 100 countries. They are named as one of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies. They are ranked Number 1 in Transportation and General Building in Engineering-News Record’s 2018 “Top 500 Design Firms.”
The Etihad Towers is a dramatic architectural statement on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. It is a standard for luxury, boasting breathtaking city views and coastline views. The five-tower complex host’s offices, apartments, and a hotel with a total estimated construction cost of 2.5 billion Dirhams. This mixed-use development covering 4,60,000 square meters attracts travelers and residents to live, work, shop, and dine whilst witnessing the beauty of the Arabian Gulf.
Concept and Design
The five-tower complex designed by DBI Architects interprets the city and its cultural and financial aspirations. AECOM was commissioned for the preparation of construction stage documents and drawings and supervision. The complex includes three residential towers, one business tower, and a 280m tall five-star Conrad at the hotel, each exceeding 50 floors. The tallest tower hosts an observation deck on the 75th floor, accessible from the hotel, and provides one of the city’s best views. Important Arabic symbols like sails, swords, and falconry dictate the design of each of the towers. Metal screens used in the lobby and as internal partitions showcase the mashrabiya pattern, thus enhancing the beauty of the interiors. All the materials harmonize with the design to create spaces with rich beauty and cultural reference.
Engineering played a vital role in the design of these towers. Each tower required specific and specialized engineering. Structural engineering was one of the most important design criteria for seismic movement and wind loads. The structure was designed such that wind loading was accommodated without the need for damper tanks which could visibly reduce the aesthetic value of the towers. Like any other high-rise tower, Etihad Towers required extensive mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) services, firefighting services, and an elevator strategy to accommodate 72 lifts. A facility to clean the facade was also considered to ensure its feasibility.
AECOM carried out an intensive study to set out environmental regulations to reduce the impact of the construction of towers on their surroundings. These included consideration of the surrounding aquatic ecosystem and terrestrial ecosystem. Several green building initiatives were taken up, a few being the utilization of stormwater, reduced electricity usage, and reduced heating, ventilation, and cooling loads. These were devised to create an environment-conscious complex while setting an example of beauty and functionality.
For a glazed building of considerable height, shading devices had to be designed not to obstruct the stunning views outside. Levolux designed shading devices for particular event areas and hotel lobbies. 20m high shading devices were designed with a 15-degree incline. Each trapezoidal facade “spine” was shaded with a single piece of fabric fully retractable, allowing it to provide unobstructed views when solar control is not necessary. Its translucency allows good visual permeability even when shading devices are deployed. Special return pulleys were designed that make the blinds invisible when retracted. Automated controllers operated the entire system of shading devices to provide comfort to the residents and guests inside the towers based on the solar conditions of the surroundings. Automated blinds were devised that were integrated into the building management system (BMS). This allowed the automatic deployment of the blinds based on light and heat levels of the spaces; they were even synchronized with music in particular event areas.
From the design to the handover stage, every detail and finish of Etihad Towers was carefully crafted and executed, now reflected in the luxurious comfort experienced by all its guests. Boundless efforts by various consultancies were recognised in 2011 with the Award of Merit at the Engineering New Record Global Best Projects Awards in the mixed-used development category.
With its competence in futuristic designs and ability to deliver those designs into reality using the latest construction techniques, AECOM is genuinely paving the path for computer-aided architecture. While traditionally designed buildings will always have a warm place in our hearts, it may be time for us to witness architects break the boundaries limited by construction and design the future!
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Etihad Towers (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etihad_Towers (Accessed: December 3, 2022).
Etihad Towers, AECOM. Available at: https://aecom.com/projects/etihad-towers-2/ (Accessed: December 3, 2022).
Etihad Towers: Landmarks: Experience Abu Dhabi (no date) Landmarks | Experience Abu Dhabi. Available at: https://visitabudhabi.ae/en/what-to-see/iconic-landmarks/etihad-towers (Accessed: December 3, 2022).