SITUATED ON A TIGHT SPACE at a prominent intersection in the center of Kuwait City (Al Ku- wayt), in Kuwait, the Al Hamra Fir- dous Tower sets itself apart from other extremely tall buildings by its unique sculpted form. An ex- ample of architectural expres- sion through structural form on a grand scale, the structural system and exterior form devel- oped symbiotically as the building’s
geometry was created by a spiral slice of a
prismatic volume. The two resultant surfaces are hyperbolic paraboloid reinforced-concrete walls that extend the full
height of the tower and function as components of the lat-eral- and gravity-force-resisting systems.
The design of the tower required consideration of challenging engineering issues complicated by both
the height and form of the structure. The spiraling hyperbolic paraboloid, which required
“flared walls” to support the gravity load of
the cantilevered wing of the building, applies
a torsional gravity load to the building core,
and this made it necessary to consider both the
long-term vertical and the torsional deformations of the building structure.
Building a supertall tower was not the ini-
tial plan of the owners, a joint venture of a lo-
cal developer and a general contractor. They
had started construction of a 50-story tower with a 4-story po-
dium designed by a local architect when Kuwait authorities
changed the zoning to permit a much taller structure at the
site. The roof height limit was increased from 200 m to 400 m.
The shear walls on the south fa-
cade were engineered to incor-
porate complex, unsymmetrical
cuts, opposite, that were placed to
control heat gain and light within
interior spaces. To increase the
area of the lobby, the north col-
umns of the tower, which are ver-
tical from level 12 to the tower
roof, slope away from the building
core, following a circular arch.
© SKIDMORE, OWINGS & MERRILL LLP/© PAWEL SULIMA, OPPOSITE; © SKIDMORE, OWINGS & MERRILL, LLP, RIGHT
0885-7024/12-0009-0052/$30.00 PER ARTICLE
SEPTEMBER 2012 Civil Engineering