After four years in the making, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) tower has become the second tallest structure in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The building's stately design is the result of a collaborative effort between the owner, the design team and the stone producer and supplier. The sleek exterior envelope features Bethel White granite, which was quarried by Rock of Ages at its site in the Green Mountains of the small town of Bethel, VT.
According to a design statement, "The ADNOC tower will create a new city landmark while articulating ADNOC's role as one of the world's most dynamic, influential petroleum companies. The proximity of the Emirates Palace Hotel, which happens to be clad in Rock of Ages Salisbury Pink granite, adds to the sites exclusivity, with the tower serving as the primary view for VIPs and patrons at the Emirates Palace complex."
In addition to being the second tallest structure in Abu Dhabi, the tower -- standing at 342 meters tall and 74 floors -- is also the 42nd tallest building in the world. Its design maximizes views from the Arabian Gulf and takes advantage of the site's prime location through careful massing of the tower and placement of the surrounding courts, plazas and landscape.
"Our clients in the Middle East have a wonderful, infectious energy and a commitment to building their cities," stated Bill Hellmuth, president of HOK, the architectural firm for the project. "We designed a 74-story building under construction in Abu Dhabi as the headquarters for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company – ADNOC. Though it is very tall and will be a new UAE landmark, the building has a simple form. It creates a sense of dignity by being quiet, strong, and improbably thin and elegant. There is a lesson in that."
Rock of Ages quarried and shipped over 3,500 cubic meters -- approximately 1,000 blocks -- of its premium Bethel White granite during 2012, 2013 and 2014. The panel size was non-standard -- 220 x 108 cm -- resulting in the quarry having to wire saw narrow lines before cutting the blocks to reduce wastage. All of the material was delivered in a timely manner for fabrication and installation done without delay to the project completion date. The blocks were selected by Italian stone supplier Nikolaus Bagnara S.p.A., based in Verona, Italy. They were shipped from Vermont to Italy where they were slabbed and flamed before being sent on to ASCON in Dubai for cut to size and installation.
"While white granite was specified by HOK, it wasn't until we had a site visit at the Bethel White quarry in Vermont with the architect, stone consultant (Swenson Stone Consultants) and senior management from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company that Bethel White was specified," explained Bob Campo, vice president of sales and marketing at Rock of Ages. "The stone was provided from the quarry over a three-year period as required for the schedule of the customer. Of course, we were also supplying other Bethel White projects as well.
"Mock ups were done," Campo went on to say. "The customer was really looking for the high-end of the Bethel White quality and was very particular about that quality. They did not want very many inclusions or any waves in the stone. They were very careful to make sure that all of the blocks came from the same general area of the quarry to insure color match."
"There are many white granites in the world, but not many are as even and valuable, in terms of structure, grain, color and technical properties, as Bethel White granite," stated Nikolaus Bagnara S.p.A. "Moreover, it is the whitest granite currently on the market. Nonetheless, the project was a big challenge due to the extremely high-quality standards, which were much higher than for normal projects. Even though the material naturally varies just slightly, in this project we had to look at the finest nuance of the stone.
"Thanks to the good collaboration between the quarry and our company, we could provide the client with the best possible quality material, and the result is impressive," the company went on to say. "For over two years, we were on-site every month to control and analyze the entire production. It was decided in which direction to quarry and adjustments were made according to prior consultations. Then the best selection was used for this prestige and glorious building.
Furthermore, even the dimensions weren't common. With 220- x 108-cm panels with 4 cm thickness, we were quite bounded with the block sampling and every small mistake instantly meant a big waste and damage. Therefore, it was very important to define already in the quarry how, where and in which direction each slab gets cut out of the block. Everybody knows to cut, polish and mill a block, but the result is different if you do it with accurateness, material knowledge and knowhow -- from the block right up to the completed work. And that was exactly our task in this project. We are very proud of the highest natural stone facade in the world in Bethel White which was controlled piece by piece by us.
According to Campo, the project ran smoothly and has been very well received since its completion in June of 2016. It is expected to earn Leed Gold certification.
"People have been amazed at the simple elegance of the structure," he said. "They are impressed by the total whiteness of the Bethel White cladding and its contrast with the rest of the building. The top three executive floors and the lobby are also done in Bethel White in a variety of finishes to some contrast. It is very elegant and impressive. This is truly a landmark reference for Bethel White granite."
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) tower
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Stone Quarrier: Rock of Ages, Barre, VT
Stone Supplier: Nikolaus Bagnara S.p.A., Verona, Italy
Stone Consultant: Swenson Stone Consultants
Stone Fabricator/Installer: ASCON, Dubai