What If an Entire City Could Be Housed Under One Roof?
Matrix Gateway Complex / Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

A cove between two landmasses in a cove on the waterfront in Dubai.

A 3-million-square-foot enclosed cube with urban infrastructure supporting residential, commercial, hospitality, and cultural uses.

It seemed until recently that Dubai was going to continue forever its quest to build taller, faster, better buildings. But the Matrix Gateway Complex, by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, while certainly no small project, seems to take a different tack. “I appreciate the sort of restraint of this, the notion of making a kind of interior world that might have potential for a new kind of experience. It’s not simply about making some sort of icon on the skyline,” said juror Stan Allen. The massive 180-meter (590-foot) cube is built on an 18-meter (59-foot) supergrid, with steel frame structures clustered around, and hung from, five vertical cores. Accessible via a roadway that passes through the center of the building, a helipad, and a boat dock, the cube has a hotel with conference facilities, retail and office space, residences, a museum, a school, and a prayer hall—all of the major elements of a small city.

The semi-transparent skin that covers the structure is embedded with shading screens and solar panels, which reduce heat gain while generating some electricity for the complex. Additionally, the condensate from the humidity in the air will be collected and converted into drinking water. The water from the adjacent Persian Gulf will help cool the complex, as will interior waterfalls and breezes flowing through the skin. Juror John Peterson appreciated the architects’ approach and summed it up as, “ ‘We can do anything we want, so why not create something holistically?’ ”

Project Credits

Project Matrix Gateway Complex, Dubai
Client Meraas Development
Architect Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Chicago—Adrian Smith, Gordon Gill, Bob Forest (partners); Les Ventsch (director of design); Alejandro Stochetti, Dennis Rehill (senior project architects); Jeff Boyer (director of clean technology systems); Brett Bridgeland, Andy Leitz, Ben Loeffler (project team); Brendan Gibbon (model builder)
Structural Consultant Thornton Tomasetti
Size 3 million square feet, plus 1-million-square-foot external park