Goettsch Partners  has been commissioned by Saudi Oger Ltd. to design a new five-star, 214-key business hotel in the King Abdullah Financial District  in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As a design-build assignment, Saudi Oger is serving as the contractor, selected by developer Rayadah Investment Company. The project is sited on Parcel 1.08, one of the first 10 parcels currently under development in the massive new master-planned district. The building comprises a 17-story tower, a three-story podium, and a four-story underground structure for hotel support functions and parking. To be operated as a Wyndham property, the hotel will include a business center, executive club, signature restaurants, a lounge, and a resort-style spa and health club.
Formally announced in 2006, the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) is a nearly 400-acre area north of central Riyadh that will include more than 32 million square feet of development at full build-out. The district will be a major financial center in the Middle East and is conceived as part of Riyadh’s overall economic diversification plan. The KAFD is designed to include premier office space, housing, a financial academy and recreational facilities. The Saudi Public Pension Agency is both the land owner and prime developer, largely through its Rayadah Investment Company. Local firm Omrania & Associates is providing architectural and engineering advice to the owner on 10 design-build parcels, including the hotel site.
The KAFD hotel is located on the east side of the district and sits directly adjacent to a wadi, a dry, manmade riverbed that organizes the overall development district and provides the main pedestrian circulation and recreational promenade. To the west, the site faces a public square.
The hotel is designed as a prism-shaped tower with a nine-story opening that separates programmatic functions and allows for views and light to penetrate the mass of the building. The podium structure houses the hotel amenities and conference facilities and links the building to its surroundings at the pedestrian level. The podium incorporates a multipurpose hall, restaurants, a spa, outdoor gardens and a rooftop terrace.
As part of the overall KAFD master plan guidelines, each building façade that faces the wadi must be faceted in its design. The hotel’s slender north façade, therefore, responds to this directive with an undulating, faceted skin; the south façade features a similar expression for consistency while also giving the building a dynamic, changing appearance from every perspective.
The north façade is composed of a semitransparent aluminum-and-glass curtain wall with two layers of ceramic frits that create a moiré effect. In an effort to optimize this effect, the pattern changes from a smaller pedestrian scale on the tower’s lower levels to a larger urban scale as it ascends the building’s full height. To mitigate the extreme heat conditions throughout much of the year, the south façade is designed to be mostly opaque, clad in stone with 150-millimeter-wide, single-level slots that rhythmically alternate up the tower. On the podium, these slots become windows to allow for select light and views. Both the north and south building façades will be lit at night in order to give the hotel a distinctive appearance and character within the larger development.
The tower’s long east and west façades feature a saw-toothed design with continuous slab edges. This pattern reveals the scale of the rooms while providing maximum shade from the most extreme desert sun and still allowing for measured light and views.
Designed to achieve LEED certification, the project incorporates many state-of-the-art sustainable strategies, including energy modeling, daylight control and solar shading, photovoltaic panels on the roof and proximity to alternative transportation systems within the KAFD. The approximately $130-million project is currently in the schematic design phase and is scheduled for completion in 2011.
Goettsch Partners is a Chicago-based architecture firm providing innovative architectural, interior, planning and building enclosure design services. With additional offices in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, the firm’s work spans four continents. Recently completed projects include premier office towers in Beijing, Chicago and Shanghai, and luxury business hotels in China, India and the United States. Select current projects include the 25-story vertical addition to Chicago’s 300 East Randolph, the headquarters of Health Care Service Corporation and its Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois division; Northwestern University’s new signature music building in Evanston, Illinois; and a 3 million-square-foot office development in Abu Dhabi that features the headquarters building of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.