Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Interview With Mr. Tareq Abu-Sukheila, Managing Director, Gensler Abu Dhabi

I am very happy to be able to interview Mr. Tareq Abu-Sukheila the Managing Director of Gensler Abu Dhabi. Gensler is one of the largest and finest architecture and design firms in the world with over 3,500 professionals located in 42 offices on five continents. Gensler has a strong presence in the Middle East and works with a range of private developers and government organizations. In this interview we cover Gensler's role in the new National Bank Of Abu Dhabi Global Head Office development as well as Gensler's role in and view of the entire region.

BRETT SIEGEL: Hello Mr. Abu-Sukheila could you please give UAE Mega Projects readers a summary of the new National Bank Of Abu Dhabi(NBAD) Global Head Office project?

MR. ABU-SUKHEILA: The new National Bank Of Abu Dhabi’s Global Head Office will be a landmark building strategically located on a key site of Al Maryah Island. The building will be 67,300 square meters, 31-floors, and will face both the waterfront and a main access road. The building will primarily accommodate commercial office space while incorporating multiple functions, including hub bank, tower lobbies, trading floors, auditorium, conferencing center and a cafeteria.

The crisp and contemporary design is based on understanding the client’s aspirations, of creating a global headquarters that exemplifies strong commercial and corporate identity. Our designers gave special consideration to presenting an outstanding building that carries an unmistakable presence and dignity, while ensuring a highly functional and efficient interior.

BRETT SIEGEL: Exactly what will Gensler's role be throughout the construction of the project?

MR. ABU-SUKHEILA: Gensler is providing full design and supervision consultancy services including architecture, interior design, landscape design, engineering and site supervision services.

BRETT SIEGEL: Why was Al Maryah Island chosen as the location for the new NBAD Global Head Office?

MR. ABU-SUKHEILA: Al Maryah Island was chosen because it will be the core of Abu Dhabi’s new Central Business District as designated by the Urban Planning Council in its visionary Plan Abu Dhabi 2030. In following with UPC’s vision, NBAD’s new head office was designed to be a distinctive building with a strong presence, sculpted around the island’s master plan.

BRETT SIEGEL: Tell us about some of the unique features of the new NBAD Global Head Office.

MR. ABU-SUKHEILA: Gensler’s design team created a timeless modern structure with a unique form and sleek silhouette that will enhance Al Maryah’s skyline. The building is designed around a symmetrical central core that displays a clear axial relationship between the waterfront and main vehicular road. The overall massing is split into two thin towers emphasizing verticality and slenderness.

A key driver of the design concept was to compose a facade to reflect the presence of a well-established bank, within the context of contemporary society. To accomplish this, Gensler designers “veiled” the building with an arrangement of vertical fins that are used to extenuate the towers, while simultaneously creating a dynamic exterior that responds to the environment due to the varied fin rotations. During the day the fins modulate light and provide solar protection, in the evening they provide the illusion of a streaming glow, which creates the aesthetic perception of authority in a simple straightforward manner.

BRETT SIEGEL: What role do you see Gensler playing in the tremendous amount of real estate development we see going on in the Middle East?

MR. ABU-SUKHEILA: Overall, the UAE has proven to be a solid location for continued growth. Due to the plethora of projects over the past several years, clients have begun to become more educated and are beginning to demand higher quality from their projects. This has begun and will continue to provide new opportunities for the consultants in the region.

Gensler has experienced this first hand, as we have begun to gain more traction across the GCC over the past several years. Having a local presence has paid off as the firm has gained the trust and credibility of strategic developers mostly attributed to the gradual build-up in the Abu Dhabi office capacity to take on more work from the GCC. As we look toward the future, we are excited to be part of this uniquely positioned emerging market.

BRETT SIEGEL: What is Gensler's view of the future of the UAE as a world leader in cutting edge real estate development?

MR. ABU-SUKHEILA: Since the financial crisis of 2009 there has been continued growth in the UAE economy primarily due to favorable oil prices and substantial public expenditure. In addition, governmental subsidization across all sectors, and re-organization of several of the largest semi-public real estate development firms, assisted in maintaining steady growth amidst pricing pressure in all Emirates of the UAE. This translates into a slow and steady investment into real estate and development projects across the GCC.

With this incline we continue to see the UAE committed to the development of quality real estate projects that support the remaining needs of both business’ and residents across the Emirates. Standards are set very high and will naturally position the UAE as a leader in progressive and strategic real estate development.

BRETT SIEGEL: Could you tell us about other key Gensler projects in the Middle East?

MR. ABU-SUKHEILA: Gensler is currently involved in several key projects in the GCC, just to name some of these projects: The Avenues Mall in Kuwait; Wafra Seef F&B in Mahboula, Kuwait; Musheireb Heart of Doha, Qatar; World Trade Center KAFD, Riyadh, KSA; Wafra Real Estate Corporate Offices, Kuwait City; Al Ghurair Investment Group Corporate Offices in Dubai, UAE and Bloom Central Marriott Hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

BRETT SIEGEL: Thank you for this interview Mr. Abu-Sukheila and we look forward to the growth and expansion of Gensler in the Middle East.


Gensler Abu Dhabi
Al Buteen Tower C6, Office C503
Binunah Street No. 34
PO Box 26967
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 (0)2 635 9100
Fax: +971 (0)2 635 9186

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