Asymptote Architecture • “It’s totally sci-fi,” said Yolande Daniels, summing up the project that had the jury feeling futuristic. The Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is at the cutting edge of both form and technology, with a weblike shade structure that cloaks the hotel’s two 10-story elliptical-shaped towers. The 500-room, 900,000-square-foot hotel straddles the Yas Marina Circuit Formula One race track, its two towers knit together by a steel bridge. The team at Asymptote Architecture designed the exterior steel-and-glass latticework, which it calls a gridshell, to mirror and capture the speed, streamlined form, and dynamic energy of Formula One racing. Inside the lobby, the expertly detailed all-white hotel resembles at once an ocean liner and an icy glacial formation.

The seemingly effortless curvilinear geometry comes from extensive laboring over BIM and parametric models, which were used to control both the form and the detailing, resulting in tight tolerances and the design of a universal joint connection. Additionally, they were able to reduce the number of structural members: Only 10 supports hold up the entire gridshell. LED luminaires are integrated into each of the 5,000 fritted glass panels that make up the faceted surface. Asymptote worked with Arup’s lighting team to program the façade so that at night, the geometry transforms into a full-spectrum light show.

The jury touted the combination of spectacle and performance. The gridshell is not only for projecting an idea about high-tech luxury; it also mitigates the demands of the intense desert environment. For instance, the rooftop swimming pool, a program nearly impossible if exposed to the desert elements, tucks easily under the steel-and-glass umbrella. “The thing I like about this project is this idea of dealing with the climate by having a big shade piece that is a universal grid,” explained Bill Valentine.

Project Credits

The Yas Hotel, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Client Aldar Properties PJSC, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Architect Asymptote Architecture, Long Island City, New York—Lise Anne Couture, Hani Rashid (principal architects); Mick McConnell (project director); Andrew Drummond, Theo Sarantoglou Lalis (project managers); Chris Delusky (commercial director); Greg Derrico, Constantin Doehler, Justine Groves, John Guida, Kurt Hanzlik, Robert Hendrick, Robert Ivanov, David Lessard, Brooks McDaniel, Klaus Ransmayr, Matthew Utley, (project architects); Keehyun Ahn, Reed Finlay, William Garcia, Armand Graham, Feby Kuriakose, Jonathan Podborsek, Martin Zangerl, Christoph Ziegler (project designers); Danny Abalos, Manca Ahlin, Sebastian Andia, Phuttipan Askawool, Ali Baker, Michelle Bitner, Christoph Boeckeler, Julie Bogdanowicz, Alex Bulygin, Remi Chevrillon, Bernardo Crespo, Josh Dannenberg, Brian Deluna, Claudia Friess, Hiroe Fujimoto, Daniel Angulo Garcia, Daniel Gillen, Avital Gourary, Moritz Greiling, Richard Heger, Katharina Hieger, Julia Hoins, Tyson Hosmer, Jeremiah Joseph, Kyungsic Kim, Ji Young Kim, Siyoung Kim, Jonathan Kleinhemple, Adam Koogler, Minsoo Lee, Rolando Lineros, Sophie Luger, Joshua Mackley, Brendan Maloney, Francisco Lopez Martinez, Mirai Morita, Tae-Hyung Park, Matthew Post, Tom Raymont, Mariana Renjifo, Isabelle Rijnties, Ben Ritter, Friedrich Rohde, Sander Schuur, Andreas Singer, Nathan Smith, Greg Spaw, Ariane Stracke, Kyle Stover, Tai Verley, Jeff Walker, Robert Wehinger, Michael Whalen, Ann Wright, Margaret Yoo (design team)
Local Architects Dewan Architects & Engineers; Tilke & Partners W.L.L.
Structural Engineers Dewan Architects & Engineers; Arup
M/E/P Engineer Red Engineering Middle East
Façade Consultants Front Inc.; TAW & Partner
Interior Architecture Jestico + Whiles; Richardson Sadeki; De8 Architetti
Lighting Consultants LAPD; Bartenbach LichtLabor; Red Engineering Middle East; Arup Lighting
Gridshell Engineers Schlaich Bergermann und Partner; Waagner-Biro Group
Gridshell BIM Consultant Gehry Technologies
Gridshell Lighting Consultant Arup Lighting
Gridshell Wind Engineers Wacker-Ingenieure
Gridshell Node Housing Consultant Billings Jackson Design
Link Bridge Engineers Arup Bridge; Centraal Staal
Landscape Design Al Khatib Cracknell Landscape Design
A/V & IT Consultant Cyber-Consult
Traffic Consultant WSP Middle East
Water Feature & Pool Consultant Belhasa Projects
Fire Safety Wagner Fire Safety Management Consultants
Signage & Wayfinding Strategy Fitch
Vertical Transportation VDA
Security Olive Group
Kitchen & Laundry Tricon Foodservice Consultants
Food & Beverage Future Foods
Size 900,000 square feet
Cost Withheld
Photography Bjorn Moerman