MEA talks to Gensler’s principal and managing director, Tareq Abu-Sukheila, about what influences him and his vision for Gensler in the Middle East
While most architectural firms prefer to be based in Dubai, at the heart of the United Arab Emirate’s skyscraper capital, Tareq Abu-Sukheila choose Abu Dhabi to be the base for Gensler’s work in the Middle East.
“To me, it makes more sense to be in the capital city of the UAE. We want to grow in an organic way and the government of Abu Dhabi seems encouraging of that,” says Abu-Sukheila, principal and managing director of Gensler Middle East.
Three months ago, Gensler moved into a classy, custom-designed 600m2 sprawling office in Etihad Towers.
Situated right next to the grand Emirates Palace, the office offers spectacular views of the city from the 32nd floor. The design firm was previously based in Buteen Towers, which was a converted duplex office space in downtown Abu Dhabi.
“Moving from Buteen Towers was a huge transition, but it was for the better. Gensler is big on open, collaborative workspaces and it was something we could not really do in our old office,” explains Abu-Sukheila.
Gensler’s new location has more than enough space to accommodate up to 60 designers. The design practice currently employs around 40 people in Abu Dhabi and is already expanding the number of professionals in the office. It plans to double its headcount over the next two to three years due to the increased volume of projects currently in the pipeline.
“We are also planning to incorporate the remaining area on the 32nd floor by year end, so that the whole floor will belong to us.” Gensler’s new office, which currently occupies two-thirds of the floor, was designed in-house and features an open plan layout of workstations to allow for collaboration and interaction between project teams.
Throughout the office, the monochrome palette offers a neutral background while the company’s signature red brightens up the space, a visual characteristic of most Gensler offices around the world, highligts Abu-Sukheila.
“Our goal was to create a highly customised environment to increase productivity, staff comfort and to enhance the creative process involved in our services.”