SOA Students Travel to United Arab Emirates for Spring 2018 Study Abroad Trip

  • Norwood and SoA students pictured with faculty, students from American University of Sharjah - Architecture College of Architecture, Art & Design

As we traveled through Dubai and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) March 12-21, our students focused on a number of topics in Architecture, including construction and preservation techniques. Students researched and documented the materials and procedures used to build the following buildings in Dubai:

Burj Khalifa: The world’s tallest building, at 828 meters high. Its cladding provides an interesting contrast with the traditional Dubai architecture around it. Well worth seeing as the sun rises and strikes the reflective surface.

Emirates Towers: A favorite with Dubai architecture enthusiasts; observe the way the towers’ relationship constantly changes according to the angle from which you look at them.

World Trade Centre: Very forward thinking for its time, both in terms of its ground-breaking scale and its structural and environmental sensitivity. It now stands as a reminder of Dubai’s growth, a contrast to the flashier buildings around it.

National Bank of Dubai: While practically speaking, this design perhaps doesn’t make the most efficient use of space, yet, as a project designed to make a statement, this building is a roaring success. Its convex glass front captures and reflects the comings and goings of life along Dubai Creek, and it has become one of the most recognizable structures in Dubai.

Dubai Marina: Especially beautiful at night, but well worth a visit on Friday afternoons, with the Marina Market selling all manner of clothes, gifts, and jewelry. There is an impressive array of waterfront restaurants, too.

Mall of the Emirates: An overnight success, popular with residents and visitors alike. Home to an enormous variety of high street and designer shops, cinemas, and many fine restaurants. It also contains the incredible Ski Dubai.

Burj Al-Arab: The world’s only ‘seven-star’ hotel, standing 320 meters tall on its own artificial island just off Dubai’s coastline. An extraordinary sail-shaped exterior, with dancing fountains, vast aquaria and a startling blue atrium on the inside.

In Abu Dhabi, we visited two major buildings – Louvre Abu Dhabi, an art and civilization museum. The museum was established November 8, 2017, as part of a 30-year agreement between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government. We also visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, named after the UAE’s first president. It’s home to the world’s largest chandelier, and 7,000 worshippers can fit inside the main prayer hall.

In conclusion, we toured 41 buildings, collaborated with the American University of Sharjah – College of Architecture, Art & Design, and met with the vice presidents of two Architectural Firms, HKS and HOK. Each student was able to submit their portfolio and resume.

In the future, we are planning a collaboration with American University of Sharjah and Project Locus, a nonprofit corporation, to design and build community structures in areas of need.


-This story by Barry H. Norwood originally appeared in Academic Insights.