PIF Tower in KAFD wins recognition for the excellence of its facade engineering.

Omrania, a leading Saudi architectural and engineering consultancy practice, has won the 2021 ‘Best Tall Building Facade Engineering’ excellence award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) for the PIF Tower (formerly known as CMA Tower)  in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Together with HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm, Omrania designed the 80-storey commercial building as the architectural anchor of the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) and a model of high-performance facade engineering.

The award from CTBUH, an international body in the field of tall buildings and sustainable design, recognises a decade of innovation and hard work from proposal to completion, says Omrania.

Soaring 385 m above the surrounding cityscape, the iconic crystalline office tower is currently the tallest building in Riyadh. Built at a cost of $3 billion and occupying a 5,000-sq-m site, it symbolises the beginning of a new era of global financial leadership within the Saudi capital.

The tower’s prismatic geometry captures and deflects the sun from various angles.

The tower’s prismatic geometry captures and deflects the sun from various angles.

“Representing timeless architecture, the tower’s transparency reflects the cultural significance of the crystals found along the valleys of Saudi Arabia. This transparency creates openness and provides valuable natural lighting for the office spaces,” explains a spokesman for the architectural and engineering firm. “The design solution is a subtle blend of conventional and well understood techniques combined with international best practice and cutting-edge technologies, merged with local expertise of construction techniques and methods for dealing with the harsh natural environment.”

Optimised for thermal control, natural light, energy performance, dazzling views and efficient maintenance, the building’s facade and enclosure system moderates the intense light and heat of the Saudi climate, he adds.

A high-performance solar control system installed moderates the intense light and heat of the local environment. An external layer of fins, gantries, and perforated panels provides shade, amplifying the thermal efficiency of the triple-pane unitised glazing. Together, these shading devices are oriented to minimise solar gain and internal cooling loads, reducing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) requirements. Electrical energy will be re-claimed through the photovoltaic installation on the roof of the tower. The tower’s prismatic geometry captures and deflects the sun from a variety of angles, according to the practice.

The project provides approximately 185,000 sq m of gross floor area above ground level, comprising corporate and commercial office space, a state-of-the-art 450-seat auditorium, dining areas, and a fitness centre and pool at level 54. A lower ground level and three full basement levels accommodate support functions and central plant and equipment areas. The project owner, the Capital Market Authority (CMA) will occupy 40,000 sq m of floor space in the top section of the tower. The remaining office space will be for commercial lease.

A three-storey podium structure at the base of the tower integrates public circulation (via the district sky-walk system of the KAFD masterplan) with the private amenity spaces, including the auditorium and dining areas.

With its energy-efficient skin, photovoltaic system, and intelligent infrastructure (“cool” wireless communication, air-blown fibre optics, and converged networks), the tower is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification.