Photo Courtesy of Sheikh Suroor Projects Dept.

Etihad Towers became an instant landmark in Abu Dhabi and a "benchmark" for U.A.E. mixed-use development when finished in 2012, say the submitters. Design of the five towers, with 54 to 75 stories and as tall as 300 meters, draws on key Middle East symbols: an opening blossom, a billowing sail, sailing vessels, a traditional sword, a falcon's talons and a pearl shell. 

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat ranks the hotel and residential towers as the world's fifth-tallest in their categories. The project features energy-efficient design such as district cooling that cuts power use by up to 20% and a system to collect condensation from 5,400 fan-coil units for irrigation. Managing 7,000 workers on a tight site, as well as a globally-dispersed project team and worldwide sourcing of materials, from steel to high-end marble, were challenges. The towers required specific engineering for tall buildings and included structural amendments for seismic movement and wind loading. Within six months of opening, residential occupancy exceeded 60%. The team, which says the $842-million project met cost and schedule milestones, terms the towers "a sculptural feat." Adds a judge: "Excellent program and results."

Location Khalideya coast, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Project Team

Owner Sheikh Suroor Bin Moh’d Al Nahyan Projects Dept.. Abu Dhabi

Lead Design DBI Design Pty Ltd., Australia and AECOM, U.S.

Construction Manager Hill International, U.S.

General Contractor Arabian Construction Co. LLC, Abu Dhabi

Engineers WS Atkins, U.K., (Civil); Dorman Disney & Young, Australia (MEP)