Doha’s long-awaited West Bay Complex finally opens

Qatar’s much-hyped West Bay Complex was finally completed last month. CW visited the development to find out how the project progressed and what it will bring to one of the region’s fastest growing centres.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  April 16, 2005

Doha’s long-awaited West Bay Complex finally opens |~||~||~|After a lengthy construction process, the West Bay Complex on the outskirts of Doha is now finally complete. The mixed residential, hotel, and office development represents one of Qatar’s most ambitious projects to date, and shows how the peninsula is fast becoming one of the region’s busiest centres for the construction industry. Developed by the Advance Tourism Investment Company Limited (ATICo), a company set up by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani — a member of Qatar’s ruling family who holds the posts of first deputy prime minister and foreign minister — the West Bay complex covers an area of 5.54 hectares and sits to the west of Doha looking back to the Corniche and out across the Arabian Gulf. The complex comprises an office tower, two private residential towers, a hotel tower managed by the Four Seasons chain, 20 townhouse villas and a 110-berth marina. The office tower has been leased by local telecom provider Q-Tel, and at 138 m is one of the tallest buildings in Doha. Altogether, the building offers 28 floors of open office space, along with 262 parking spaces. The first residential tower is 21 storeys-tall and has 100 apartments including: 46 one-bedroom units, 53 two-bedroom units, and one penthouse. Similarly, the second residential tower is 21 storeys but is comprised mainly of three and four bedroom apartments, which means it only has a total of 55 residential units. There are 231 parking spaces for the two residential blocks combined, and each tower has a lobby, club lounge, security office and storage area on the lower levels. The towers also have their own recreational facilities so residents do not need to access the hotel’s facilities next door. The townhouse villas are set behind the hotel building and are configured as two-bedroom, three storey units, each with 250 m2 of space and enclosed private parking. There is also a shared landscaped garden and a swimming pool. The hotel building has 18 floors and is set in grounds that include its own private beach. According to Simon Casson, general manager, Four Seasons Hotel Doha, “Doha is currently under-resourced for hotels, especially when the demand peaks when there are large conferences and sporting events going on in town.” The design is very much Arabic in flavour and used many local Qatari motifs throughout the building. Other traditional Gulf elements like columns, wind towers and patterned cladding panels are also used, combined with Andalusian-style features for the domes, corners, openings and windows. The arrival court at the main entrance to the hotel is finished with finely detailed granite paving, densely planted raised beds and decorative lighting. The focal point in the arrival court is a spectacular dome above the driveway. This leads into the hotel lobby, which at the back has a double-storey glass window overlooking the Arabian Gulf. The hotel features a number of food and beverage outlets including a brasserie, a fine dining area, and a bar and cigar lounge. In terms of rooms there are 20 standard rooms; 25 deluxe rooms, 130 premier rooms; 13 executive suites; 13 deluxe executive suites; 21 ambassador suites; two Gulf suites; one West Bay two-bedroom suite; one West Bay three-bedroom suite, five state suites; and one royal suite. Outside there is a three level beachfront complete with grotto pool, children’s pool and a main swimming pool, along with a full-service spa with 11 treatment rooms. Palm trees are used to surround the outside areas to create an element of privacy for the hotel guests. Architectural firm Smallwood Reynolds, Stewart & Stewart from Atlanta, Georgia, USA were commissioned for the architectural design of the complex. Halcrow were the project managers, while Davis Langdon Seah were the quantity surveyors for the project. After a piling and marina contract was awarded and completed by the local contractor Construction Development Company (CDC), a general construction contract was awarded as one single contract that again went to locally-based CDC. A number of sub contractors were used, including Drake & Scull for the MEP works and Depa for the interior fit outs of the hotel designed by Frank Nicholson from Acton, Massachusetts, USA. CDC was awarded the main construction contract at the beginning of 2001. The main challenge for the contractor at the start of the job was the fact that the complex included the construction of what was then Doha’s tallest building. Despite being a local contractor that had no previous experience when it came to building such tall towers, CDC was able to draw upon its multinational staff with experience of similar projects overseas to get the job done. “The main aspect of the job was that the towers include one of the tallest buildings in Doha. The office tower is 158 m tall, and of course there are certain complications that you encounter when constructing high-rise buildings,” says Nabil H. Elias, prospects director, Construction Development Company L.L.C. The other major challenge was that the four towers were built simultaneously, which meant that a great deal of co-ordination was required on site; at the project’s peak there were around 2500 personnel on site. There was also very little repetitive work as only the two residential towers are similar in design. Although these two towers are not identical, they are similar when it comes to height, surface area and scope of work. The hotel was also a great challenge because of the high standard of finishing that was required. The finishes also meant that it accounted for the most significant part of the project in terms of value. Early on there were some major pours where thousands of cubic metres of concrete were poured. Once the rafts had been cast, the contractor managed to achieve a floor cycle of seven days, which had not been achieved before in Doha. This was made possible by a number of various pieces of equipment, including high capacity tower cranes, stationary pumps, concrete placing booms, and flexible formwork systems. Although these systems enabled work to remain ahead of schedule in the early stages of the project, a number of key design revisions and modifications made during the construction process meant that the latter stages of the project were delayed, which ultimately resulted in the project taking 48 months to complete. ||**||

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