King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Best Project

Owner King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center
Lead Design Firm Zaha Hadid Architects
General Contractor Saudi Aramco
Civil, Structural and MEP Engineer Arup
Substructure Contractor Gulf Elite
Superstructure Contractor Drake & Scull International
Suppliers Eversendai, AIC and Seele

This 70,000-sq-meter energy research complex was completed after 78 months in August 2017 for KAPSARC, which describes itself as a nonprofit policy research institution with the goal of providing unbiased analysis on energy-related challenges. 

To support the ambitious schedule, the project team operated under one roof throughout the entire design development phase. During construction, however, team members coordinated their work from five cities across three continents.

The project team introduced a fast-tracking strategy by issuing an early substructure package, which allowed the earthwork and basement construction to start within 11 months after design began. BIM modeling helped to improve both the execution time and the quality of the project.

Since some required materials including glass-reinforced gypsum panels, and the fire-rated partitions were only available through out-of-country suppliers, the project team worked with local manufacturers to enrich their capabilities so they would supply these materials locally. Local manufacturing improved the overall delivery time and minimized risks associated with international procurement. It also helped to fulfill the goal of business development within Saudi Arabia, winning the project team special recognition from Saudi Aramco’s management.

Crystalline formations inspired by nature were integrated into the exterior design to help to shield internal spaces from direct sunlight. The campus also opens to the north and west to use prevailing winds to cool the structures and public spaces during the temperate months via a series of sheltered courtyards that bring softly controlled daylight into the interior.

The construction team’s safety practices proved effective, with crews completing more than 56 million worker hours with just six lost-time incidents. The facility earned LEED Platinum certification and was recently nominated for the 2018 AJ100 Building of the Year Award.

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