From The National:
As the foundations of NYU Abu Dhabi come into view, John Gravois concludes his two-part series on NYU's new campus by examining the university’s efforts to translate grand ambition into reality – and the many challenges that remain.
To reach the offices of the Executive Affairs Authority – one of Abu Dhabi’s several modernising brain trusts – you ride a glass elevator up through the atrium of one of the city’s more upscale buildings and then walk to a set of unmarked doors. These open onto a minimalist, ivory-coloured lobby, as elegant as it is Apollonian, whose dominant feature is an immaculate bank of windows overlooking several desert islands to the north.
The office sits more or less on the edge of Abu Dhabi, with its back to the inhabited parts of the city, so its view to the unpopulated north is hushed, unobstructed and otherworldly. Across a blue-green waterway, half-skeletal towers rise out of the sand on Reem Island (slated for commercial and residential development) and Sowwah Island (financial, medical). Further off in the distance, you can see the first big power lines stretching out to Saadiyat Island, the planned site of Abu Dhabi’s Guggenheim and Louvre museums and the future home of New York University Abu Dhabi.
If the view from the Executive Affairs Authority has the feel of a command post, it is not undue. A number of the projects at the heart of Abu Dhabi’s growth fall under the authority’s quiet direction. NYU Abu Dhabi is one of them. For the past year, a handful of strategists here – along with NYU’s own small ground team, working out of a converted condominium across town – have been fine-tuning plans for the new university and overseeing its first pilot projects. From this exquisite office, they have been mapping out what some see as the masterstroke in Abu Dhabi’s future as a high-cosmopolitan capital of ideas.