Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Rolex Tower, Dubai
Posted January 2012
Rolex Tower was recognized as a finalist in the 2011 CTBUH Awards Program.
Other Featured Tall Buildings
“The Rolex Tower displays a welcome reticence among the exotic high-rise environment of Dubai and reflects the detailing and clarity one would expect from a building that borrows its brand from the world’s finest watch makers.”
Peter Murray, CTBUH 2011 Awards Juror, New London Architecture Centre

247 m (810 ft)
Primary Use
Residential / Office

Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons
Design Architect
Skidmore Owings & Merrill
Structural Engineer
Skidmore Owings & Merrill
Albonian International
Dubai Contracting Company

Rolex Tower sits amidst the exuberance that is the tall building development of Dubai’s main thoroughfare, Sheikh Zayed Road. The building comes as a breath of fresh air among the crowd of towers all competing for attention. Its clean, well-detailed form rises in a quiet yet powerful way. The prismatic gleaming façade glows  in the Dubai sun while the patterned ceramic frit adds depth and character.

Rolex Tower is situated on Sheik Zayed Road, one of the most prominent streets in Dubai. The tower includes both commercial and residential programs, consisting of 30 floors of office space, 25 floors of apartments, and capped by two residential penthouses.
The building is veiled in a high-performance curtain wall of patterned colored glass which fades in color intensity as it ascends, further expressing the height of the tower. The glass cladding consists of ceramic frit patterns which give the façade its highly distinctive character. The frit also serves to reduce solar gain within the building and provides shading from the sun, crucial in Dubai’s desert climate.

Rolex Tower embodies understated elegance amid the exuberant context of the “urban street wall” along Sheikh Zayed Road. The relatively small site dictated the design of the tower along with its proximity to adjacent buildings. The design addresses the tight urban site by stacking offices, residential units and amenities, creating the refined shape of the tower.
The three-tiered massing expresses the change of uses in the program and creates a unique presence on the skyline.

Figure 1. Facade Detail
In order to accommodate the very tight urban site, the building’s structural system was designed to be tall and narrow, with a very small footprint relative to its height. The tower’s structural systems are a composite of concrete core walls, columns, and precast concrete floor slabs, with reinforced concrete outriggers and belt walls at the mechanical levels. The building’s foundation system consists of a raft supported by deep, reinforced concrete bored piles to support the height and narrow body.

A 9-story parking garage and entrance plaza located behind the tower provides direct access to the building’s lobby. The precast concrete parking deck is linked to the tower by a steel and glass bridge truss structure which spans the service road between them.

The interior program of Rolex Tower responds to the mixed-use nature of the project. The building has two ground floor lobbies—one leading to the residences and another to the commercial space—and both are branded relative to their respective purposes. The commercial lobby employs high ceilings and a quiet atmosphere. The residential lobby is a private space for residents and guests of the leased apartments.

Figure 2. Office Lobby showcasing art piece "Soundwave"
Art components were integrated into both lobbies, including a piece by James Clar called “Soundwave” located in the commercial lobby. This dynamic sculpture is made of stainless steel and its form is derived from the artist recording his own voice speaking the words “Rolex Tower.” The residential lobby features a modern geometric wall installation which greets visitors immediately upon entering through the front doors.
Figure 3. Glass Detail 

Related Links
CTBUH Skyscraper Center Profile:
Rolex Tower

Rolex Tower was recognized as a Best Tall Building Finalist in the 2011 CTBUH Awards Program.
Download the Rolex Tower 2011 CTBUH Awards Book section

2011 CTBUH Awards Book

The CTBUH would like to thank SOM for their assistance with this article. Photography SOM / Nick Merrick © Hedrich Blessing.