The Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) in a joint venture with ICME and Tilke Engineers & Architects, combines three hospitals into one 3-million-square-foot, 838-bed complex in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Shared medical facilities fill a two-story plinth at the base, and bed towers rise from the elevated ground plane of the podium’s roof. Design partner Mustafa K. Abadan, FAIA, says that this plane “is conceived as a very large oasis garden.” Access to the green space from above and below allows hospital employees, as well as patients (and their guests and extended families) to take advantage of the open-air spaces. But dealing with exterior conditions in the harsh weather of Abu Dhabi presents its own challenges: “One has to be very careful in how one shades these outdoor spaces because the climate is very hot and dry, and sometimes windy,” Abadan says. “Therefore, more covered, shaded, and somewhat internalized spaces mediate these climatic issues.” To that end, SOM employs orientation-dependent shading devices over the gardens, including fabric scrims with patterns drawn from culturally inspired motifs. SOM anticipates that the project will receive a certified rating within the Estidama guidelines (the Abu Dhabi LEED equivalent). Construction will begin in 2013.