“As Great as the Burj Khalifa and the Eiffel Tower”: Santiago Calatrava’s Vision for Dubai’s Next Icon

Following a hiatus spurred by the global economic crisis of 2008, it appears that ambitious mega-projects are returning to the United Arab Emirates, and authorities in Dubai have revealed one of the city’s most extraordinary to date. New renderings and a detailed model have been unveiled for a new observation tower designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava — designed to rival Dubai’s existing architectural icons as the cultural epicenter of the city.

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, was full of praise for the towering project. “This architectural wonder will be as great as the Burj Khalifa and the Eiffel Tower,” he commented on Calatrava’s competition-winning proposal. “Combining Islamic architecture with modern design, the tower at Dubai Creek will become a national monument as well as a cultural and tourist destination,” added Mohamed Ali Al Alabbar, President of Emaar Properties, which will develop the tower in collaboration with Dubai Holding.

While the height of the project remains a secret, the rendering that accompanies the model — complete with fireworks far below the tower’s summit — suggests an astronomically tall structure. Calatrava’s model indicates that the tower will be stabilized by a tensile web of cables reminiscent of the architect’s many bridge designs. The slender elements around the lower half of Calatrava’s tower create a permeable skirt that lends the tower a distinctive, iconic silhouette.

“We feel extremely thankful and honored to have been selected for such an important project,” said Santiago Calatrava. “Dubai is where innovative and revolutionary architecture is making incredible strides. In our proposed design, we have united local traditional architecture with that of the 21st century.” The announcement constitutes another coup during a successful winter for Santiago Calatrava, who was awarded the European Prize for Architecture in December last year. Stay tuned to Architizer for upcoming news on this and other Calatrava projects throughout 2016.