Image Courtesy AECOM

It took three and a half years to bring Yas Mall, a 2.5-million-sq-ft retail development, from design to completion. The shopping mall, which was completed in November 2014, is now one of the largest retail developments in the United Arab Emirates.

Six Construct, part of the Besix Construction Co. out of Belgium, led construction work on the project. Joining the project team were more than 30 different subcontractors from nations including the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, France and Belgium.

The project's total workforce peaked at 10,250, and with so many different nationalities working together, clear communication channels were crucial to meeting challenging delivery outputs and ensuring smooth operations. A tight program management schedule and frequent management and operational meetings also took place throughout the course of the design and construction.

The mall structure spans the equivalent of 36 football fields and includes eight large courtyards connected by skylight-covered avenues; a central Town Square is topped by a 48-m by 48-m skylight. Four parking structures, capable of holding 12,000 vehicles in total, feed into the development via five bridges.

Among the contractor's many challenges during construction was to accommodate tenant requests to remove some columns to ensure a large unencumbered space in the retail area. To achieve this, AECOM, Six Construct and structural-steel subcontractor Eversendai made major structural modifications that included knocking out mid-span columns to retain an uninterrupted space 16 m wide by 11 m high.

Additionally, to overcome a high and salty water table, the team designed a suspended slab-and-service-manhole system that are suspended. Thermal modeling and analysis of massive floor slabs—345,000 sq m—eliminated numerous constructions joints.

More than 25 million work-hours went into mall, and the project team achieved this without any lost-time injuries, thanks to a strong safety culture, agreed upon and promoted by all stakeholders.

The team held to special provisions for workers as temperatures reached 122°F in the summer months. During that time, local laws required workers to stop during the middle of the day, and the stakeholders had to ensure there were adequate drinking-water supplies, shade and rest areas at all works locations across the massive site. The team also adjusted shift patterns to allow for as much work as possible to be done during cooler hours.

Careful planning that took into account recycling, water conservation and energy reduction throughout design and construction helped the project to earn a 2-Pearl rating under the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council's Estidama Pearl Building Rating System. Yas Mall is the largest retail development in the U.A.E. to earn the sustainability award to date.

Project Team

Contractor: Six Construct

Owner: Aldar

Lead Design: RTKL

Lead Design Consultant, Architectural, Structural and MEP Engineering, Fire and Life Safety, Landscape,

Infrastructure: AECOM

Subcontractors: Bliss Fasman Inc.; Eversenda