Speaker: Aaron Mazeika, PE, SE, AIA, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Topic: Design / Construction of a 413 meter highrise building at Kuwait City Sculpted High-Rise – The Al Hamra Tower
Abstract: With a roof height of 413m, the Al Hamra Tower in Kuwait City is amongst the tallest buildings in the world. Setting it apart from other super high-rise buildings is its unique sculpted form. An example of architectural expression through structural form on a grand scale, the structural system and exterior form were developed in a symbiotic digital design process. The building geometry is generated by a spiraling slice subtracted from a simple prismatic volume. The resultant spiraling building form generates a dramatic cantilevered office wing that wraps around an exterior coutyard. The two resultant cut surfaces are hyperbolic paraboloid reinforced-concrete walls, which extend the full height of the tower and participate in the lateral and gravity force resisting systems. Other noteable features include a Nervi inspired lamella structure bracing the tower columns which curve 24m throught the lobby space, and a spiralling roof geometry that extends 90m from low point to high point and encloses a 40m tall skygarden space.
The design of the Al Hamra Tower required consideration of challenging engineering issues complicated by both the height and form of the structure. Long-term creep and shrinkage of concrete was carefully studied to account for force redistributions and to develop an extensive program of displacement pre-corrections to be made during construction. The spiraling hyperbolic paraboloid ‘flared walls’ required for gravity load support of the cantilevered wing apply a torsional gravity load to the building core that necessitates consideration of both the long-term vertical and torsional deformations of the building structure.
Opened in late 2011, the Al Hamra Tower is a dramatic addition to the skyline of Kuwait City and is set to become a major destination for the city. This presentation will focus on both the technical design and construction challenges in the accomplishment of this complex project.