Qatar Foundation Headquarters and SCC
The newly opened Qatar Foundation Headquarters building is a quintessential OMA project. The program becomes the driver of the design and is manifested as complex volumes of space on display.
This may not be the sense one gets when viewing the building from the outside, as it sits confidently on the elevated plinth as a simple cubic form with the upper part floated above a continuous slot. Once inside however, if feels as if one has entered the deep construct of a sophisticated musical instrument. The multi-leveled atrium offers kaleidoscopic views of different spaces, ranging from auditoria, meeting rooms, sky bridges, to offices and cafes. The off the shelf glass and aluminum wall system here create magnifying reflections from all angles and may be visually unpleasing to some, but the alternating soffit joinery detail is quite commendable. The 7th level is perhaps the most exciting place of the building where a series of amenity spaces fill the floor, with a terrace space all around. The structural gymnastics allowed this terrace to be completely column free, creating an exhilarating feeling from the inside and a gravity defying reading from the outside, as if the upper volume simply hovers over the lower one. The exterior form however, cleverly conceals and simplifies this playful inner working by shielding the interior against the harsh desert sun with a gridded precast facade and roof. The main headquarter building is joined by a three storey Strategy Study Center building through a unifying elevated plaza, where the gridded motif is again executed in the landscape design. A bold and clear concept built with fine craftsmanship and attention to detail, this building certainly meets the objective of becoming a world class office and assembly facility for Qatar's burgeoning education city but goes above and beyond that by showcasing a welcoming attitude to all visitors and an open mindedness towards a progressive architecture.