The Landmark

client : Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
branding : The Landmark
services : Architecture Construction Oversight
typology : Residential
location : Abu Dhabi

The Landmark is a 72-story office and residential tower on the Corniche, Abu Dhabi’s grand waterfront crescent. Standing apart from the city’s other tall buildings, the 324-meter (1,063-foot) tower is visible on all sides and has panoramic views of the Persian Gulf and the surrounding islands. The Landmark’s design — the winner of an international competition — uses local precedents to be environmentally sustainable and culturally sensitive.

Abu Dhabi’s desert environment poses specific challenges to building design. The summer months are hot and humid and there are wide temperature swings from day to night. To address these conditions, the Landmark was conceived as a series of layered screens, unfolding like the petals of a flower to reveal a crystalline pillar. While the building is contemporary in appearance, this approach evokes the use of screens in vernacular Arabic architecture. The plan of the building also has a cultural precedent. Its geometry is based on the dodecagon, the 12-sided figure frequently used in Islamic art.

At the base of the Landmark is a series of garden terraces under the protection of a monumental glass canopy. The canopy offers shade and glare reduction to the lower office levels. These office spaces are organized around an internal atrium, similar to the traditional courtyard architecture of the Gulf region. The canopy reduces solar heat gain and the consequent cooling load required for the atrium and public lobbies. The main body of the building is clad in a high-performance glass façade, and sunshades are integrated into the curtain wall. At the office levels above the glass canopy and on the residential levels, balconies serve as shading devices.

In addition to offices and apartments, the building includes several amenities. Restaurants are on levels 64 and 65, and a fitness center is located between the office and residential floors. On the highest occupiable level are an outdoor pool and a sky garden, 272 meters (900 feet) above grade. At this height, the natural temperature gradient and higher wind speed reduce the need for cooling. This strategy recalls using wind towers to cool buildings, a traditional practice in the Gulf region.