Conference center design project receives NY ASLA 2012 Honor Award

Original concept for the King Abdullah Financial District Conference Center

We’ve done a lot of unusual projects over the years, but the KAFD Conference Center is probably the most exciting one we’ve come across. Located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the structure is covered with over 15,000sf of modular green roof, with nearly 10,000sf of living wall inside.

Tournesol Siteworks was invited to participate on the design team by HM White Site Architects, who are responsible for the breakthrough modular green roof design. The building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in New York City, is the first major element in the new development slated to be the home of new banking and financial infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.  The project will utilize a number of remarkable environmental construction technologies to reach an expected LEED Gold status.

KAFD Elevation

This past winter HM White was recognized with an NY ASLA Chapter 2012 Honor Award for their role.  They’ve described it better than we could have:

  HM White’s landscape and living roof design for the conference center in King Abdullah’s Financial District represents state-of-the-art technological and design innovation applied to the dynamic fusion of landscape and building. HM White has invented a new modular planting system as part of SOM’s “exoskeleton” building skin to solve inherent complex growing conditions using a custom hypertufa growing medium and a capillary layering system to emulate natural limestone cliff growing habitats.  For the first time in a Saudi Arabian public landscape design, native arid grasses and flora are introduced into a large scale public space setting where indigenous plant communities spatially organize and blur the boundaries between the building’s undulating skin and HM White’s surrounding structural desert landscape design.

Images courtesy HM White Site Architects and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Tournesol Siteworks has been expanding its design capabilities, and this proved to be a perfect opportunity to contribute.  We’ve spent the last 30 years informally helping with custom and unique projects, but recognized as the challenges grew greater, we needed to up our game. Last year we brought on Doug Rooney, a registered landscape architect in California and Oregon, to help. Doug’s background is perfect for our type of work – not only has he practiced as a landscape architect for years, but his original training and experience was as an architect.  In addition to his technical expertise, his understanding of the design process has helped us hold up our end of the deal.

We have worked very closely with HM White, acting as technical advisor on the modular planting system described above. They came up with the concept, and we worked out many of the details. Of particular interest has been the hypertufa growing medium. Our experience with GFRC and our concrete manufacturing facility has been useful in testing out formulations and determining what will work in a challenging environment like Saudi Arabia.

There are a number of innovations incorporated in the design of the project that we’re continuing to work on, with the hope that they can work for a wider spectrum of projects. The conference center project has broken ground in Riyadh, and we’re working to be named the provider for the interior living walls and modular green roof system. We’ll keep you updated as the project develops!

3 thoughts on “Conference center design project receives NY ASLA 2012 Honor Award”

  1. Hello,
    I am a MSc student in the university of Liverpool, and my master thesis is about green roofs in hot climates, Can you please help me by sending me details about this projects green roof and plants,…etc , I will be very grateful to you.

  2. hello.
    out of curiosity only, did this project happen?
    my personal advocacy is to promote edible sustainable gardening among community members in Jeddah and KSA

  3. We were asked to bid to provide material to the project, but were not selected. To our knowledge the green roof has not yet been installed.

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