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Abu Dhabi's Etihad Towers ranks high among world's skyscrapers

Abu Dhabi’s striking Etihad Towers skyscraper complex on the Corniche has been named one of the world’s top skyscraper developments in a highly regarded award for high-rise architecure.

The Dh2.5bn (US$680.5 million) complex of five curved towers has been honoured in the Emporis Skyscraper Awards for projects completed last year.

The German-based skyscraper data company Emporis cited the Sheikh Suroor Projects Department project in Abu Dhabi in its awards for buildings at least 100 metres high, praising the complex’s “soft curving contours” and “harmonious” design.

The five Etihad Towers blocks comprise a total of 5.8 million square feet, including 885 apartments, the Jumeirah Hotel, a luxury shopping centre and offices. The towers were designed by the Australian architecture and design company DBI to symbolise both the capital’s natural and cultural environment.

The long curves of the towers were based on images of billowing sails on a dhow while the grouping of the towers was based on both sketches of unfurling flower petals and those of falcons. The blocks are arranged so that whatever direction they are viewed from, at least two of the towers are visible.

First prize went to Forest City Ratner’s 870ft Frank Gehry-designed 8 Spruce Street in New York City, which opened in February last year. Judges described this as “a major new architectural landmark for New York”.

Emporis awarded the second prize to Ajial Real Estate’s 1,354ft Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed Al Hamra Tower in Kuwait City.

The Emporis awards are regarded as some of the world’s most prestigious prizes for high-rise architecture and have been assessed annually by a panel of architects and other experts since 2000.

More than 220 skyscrapers completed during last year were eligible to be entered into the competition.

Emporis usually announces its annual awards in the spring. However, the 2011 awards were delayed prompting many to speculate that the prizes would not be awarded for the year.

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