Matt Chaban at Architects Newspaper:
Right Turn in Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates releases designs for large-scale cultural center with projects by Gehry, Hadid, Nouvel, Ando, and others …
Dubai never had the petroleum resources of its neighboring emirates, so it reinvented itself through ambitious real estate ventures and destination architecture, drawing tourists and businesspeople alike. Neighboring Abu Dhabi, capitol of the United Arab Emirates, may be taking a page from Dubai, hoping to diversify its economy before finite oil and natural gas reserves dry up. On January 31, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, unveiled the concept designs for three museums and a performing arts center to establish a cultural hub on Saadiyat Island, off the coast of Abu Dhabi city, all designed by four of the world’s most distinguished architects.
Joining Frank Gehry, whose commission to build the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi was announced last July, will be Jean Nouvel, Tadao Ando, and Zaha Hadid. Hadid was commissioned to design a performing arts center, Ando a maritime museum, and Nouvel a classical art museum, which may be the reported Louvre branch, which Abu Dhabi bought the rights to in January (see “At Deadline,” AN 01_01.19.2007). According to spokesperson Rachel Judlowe, the government-owned investment company Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), which is funding the projects, is engaged in talks with the Louvre and other prominent international cultural institutions about development in Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District.