Foster + Partners wins Zayed museum design contest
Abu Dhabi, December 12, 2007
Foster + Partners, one of the UK’s leading architectural firms, has won the Sheikh Zayed National Museum International Design Competition.
The firm is strongly associated with its Pritzker Architecture Prize winning founder Lord Norman Foster.
The competition was staged to find an inspiring concept for the planned museum in Abu Dhabi.
This selection culminates a seven-month competition process which was organised under a two stage, anonymous submission format.
The winning concept was selected from four short listed submissions invited to proceed to the second presentation stage.
The museum will honour the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the former UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi who played an instrumental role in the formation of the UAE Federation and was a highly respected international statesman and award-winning environmental pioneer.
The Sheikh Zayed National Museum is to be built within the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island – a natural island which lies just 500 m offshore the UAE’s capital city.
Foster + Partners’ concept was judged to have best met the requirements of the competition brief to deliver a unique and defining public monument for the founder of the nation and a national museum for Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
“We will now begin discussions with Foster + Partners to develop the design of this important national asset,” said Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and of Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC). “There will be further dialogue as we move into a working phase of close engagement between the architects and stakeholders culminating in a final design.”
While in Abu Dhabi to present the Foster + Partners concept, Lord Norman Foster spoke of the need to deliver a building symbolic of the character and mission of the late Sheikh Zayed.
“A visitor needs to find this an oasis – an area of calm in a bustling part of the Cultural District. The project calls for more than a museum, rather for a national monument to values which will evoke an element of contemplation and knowledge absorption and which, by definition, would therefore have a greater spiritual element than the other projects in the district,” he said.
The international design competition jury was chaired by Zaki Nusseibeh, adviser to the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs. The jury also included: Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning; Robert A M Stern, a practising architect and Dean of the Yale University School of Architecture; Farshid Moussavi, a practicing architect and Professor In Practice at Harvard University’s graduate School of Design and member of the Agha Khan Architectural Award Steering Committee; Peter Wilson, director of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s redevelopment project and Head of Collections and former Director of Major Projects for London’s Tate Gallery; Qingyum Ma, Dean University of Soutern California’s School of Architecture and principal of the firm MADA s.p.a.m., one of the most visible Chinese practices on the international scene and Elie Haddad, architect and associate professor of architecture at the Lebanese American University in Byblos.
The Sheikh Zayed National Museum features galleries individually devoted to UAE Heritage, Environment, The Transformation of the Emirates, Unity Through Leadership, and Education. The museum will also include an education centre, theatre, shops and a café and a visitor services area.
The Sheikh Zayed National Museum will be a key asset in Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District proposition, which also includes the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi modern and contemporary art museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi universal museum, a performing arts centre, maritime museum and a park with pavilions devoted to culture and the arts. Some of the world’s m