The Triumph Of Commerce
Peter Buchanan -- Interior Design, 11/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Modeled on the Arc de Triomphe, the Gate was the first completed building at the Dubai International Financial Centre, a mixed-use urban quarter master-planned by Gensler. A serene anchor among the sky-thrusting towers springing up in this booming free-trade zone, the 15-story Gate is clad largely in greenish-gray granite to evoke sobriety and permanence—counterbalanced by glazed sides that project a more outward-looking transparency. The 500,000-square-foot structure straddles the pedestrian avenue that forms the quarter's spine, framing a view of the Dubai World Trade Centre, the city's first office high-rise. (Built by the father of the current sheikh, it marked the launch of the city's drive to become a global financial hub.) "Acting as a portal to the district, the Gate symbolizes Dubai's ambition to follow in the tradition of New York, London, and Tokyo," says managing principal Christopher Johnson.
The Dubai International Financial Centre's buildings appear freestanding, but they actually rise from contiguous podiums sharing a landscaped roof that constitutes an artificial ground plane. Below the garden are garages for 35,000 cars and shopping malls, which are also primary pedestrian pathways. Rising 11 stories above one of the podiums, the Gate's two legs are served by passenger elevators at one end and service cores at the other. Express elevators, which run along the curtain walls facing the central avenue, serve parking and retail areas as well as the top five levels bridging the supports. Two of these floors are fully glazed with large open floor plates, a rarity in Dubai. On the very top floor, offices have only slit windows on exterior walls, but executives do enjoy an interior view, onto an Arabian-style central garden that's planted with grass and shrubs.