An Architectural Feat in Abu Dhabi to Finally Open


With an original opening date of 2012, later moved up to 2015 (and missed), we are now being told that as August 2016, the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum is now 95% complete.  Located on the Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE it has been announced that the museum will be finished in late December or early 2017 with an opening date sometime in 2017.

In terms of ambitious architectural design there is good reason why the Louvre Abu Dhabi has taken so long to complete.  Designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel, recipient of the highest architectural honor, the Pritzker Prize, the 260,000 sq. ft. structure is expected to have a final cost between €83 million and €108 million (U.S. $120 million).

To complete Nouvel’s “Rain of Light” vision, the dome’s approximately 1,855-foot circumference is constructed as a giant jigsaw puzzle that took over 30 million man hours and 424 days to complete.  And that does not count the underside of the dome’s cladding.  One of the 7,850 stars that form the eight layers of the Rain of Light installation is over 160 square feet and weighs almost 915 pounds.

The walls of the structure required 4,680 panels of ultra-high performance, fiber-reinforced concrete that used a matrix of glass fibers instead of steel to increase its compressive and tensile strength.  Since the museum will be constantly exposed to sea water as it sits right on the edge of the Arabian Gulf, this type of concrete offered minimal shrinkage and impermeability.  Another feature includes the roof that “sits on top of four towers that have been carefully concealed inside the museum buildings, creating the illusion that the whole 7,000-tonne structure is hovering in mid-air.”

The museum, which is accessed by boat, will eventually be joined by two more museums, the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, as part of the new Saadiyat Island Cultural District.  Along with the Louvre’s 23 permanent galleries, it also has space for temporary exhibits as well as a research center.  In addition to the cost of the museum, the country of Abu Dhabi also paid $525 million to be a part of the Louvre name along with an additional $747 million to receive art loans, special exhibitions and management advice.

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