dubai: then and now and later
12 May 2009, 12:14 pm
Filed under: architecture, musing | Tags: , ,

dubai-before-after-pl

NASA images illustrate explosive growth in Dubai from 2002 to 2008. Image via [www.chloregy.org]

Dubai. Just the name conjures an air of dignity, awe, and wonder. The focus of many a Discovery Channel special (which admittedly draw my attention), in which the host spouts off statistic after statistic of buildings that are bigger, taller, more daring, and… better? Don’t get me wrong, I’m always a proponent of Go Big or Go Home, but…

My first job after graduating was at a large, corporate firm beginning to establish roots in the Middle East. Fresh out of school with an starry-eyed, eager attitude, I was excited to be working on this incredible healthcare/tourist complex in DUBAI: so foreign, so romantic, so much more intriguing than any project could ever be in the United States.

As it turns out, this amazing design exercise was all about responding to the ever-changing requests of developers 7000 miles away, manipulating square footages to reach target FARs, all within a “themed” architecture. Thoughtful design with a sense of place? Not here, sucker.

Needless to say after awhile, it started to wear on me, but Dubai building projects are still kicking, and the world continues to be enamored with, or at least awed by, them. Only recently did criticism and economic woes begin affecting the oil-rich emirate. It makes me believe that sometimes we just need to hit rock bottom before we bounce back, get smart, and actually think about what we are doing. But will this pattern actually apply in Dubai?

One of these days I’ll make it there to experience the sheer enormity of superstructures in the desert, for better or worse. In the meantime I’ll just continue being a master of manipulating square footages.

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