Global firm HOK states that the design for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) tower in the United Arab Emirates capital is motivated by the attitude ‘less is more’ – a motto made well-known by 20th century architect Mies van der Rohe. Although not the originator of the aphorism, he famously adopted the principle to describe the importance of simplicity in modern architecture.

The resemblance is fairly obvious. Many of the city’s modern buildings are twisted and amorphic in form but not this one. The sleek form and rigid strictness of the high-rise glass tower, extruded vertically from the parallelogram footprint, seem minimal enough. ‘The building’s shape responds to the path of the sun,’ explains the architect. ‘The elevation nearest the Arabian Gulf faces true north, minimizing heat gain and providing unobstructed views of the water through clear glass panels. The south side is sheathed in a double wall of insulated, fritted glass, with horizontal sun shades that mitigate direct sunlight.’ The two remaining elevations, where the sun is the most intense as it rises and sets in the east and west, are protected by the Bethel White granite piers which house service lifts, fire stairs and mechanical rooms.

When it comes to height, however, perhaps ‘more is more’, with the tower’s soaring 75 storeys noticeably taller than any of the other buildings in the near vicinity. HOK is certainly a studio that knows its tall buildings, with countless examples throughout the firm’s portfolio, some of which are described as ‘iconic, while others fit comfortably into their context.’ The ADNOC tower stands out eccentrically against the traditional urban landscape.
Location Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates