Burj Al Arab

Essay by AmeliadsimaoCollege, UndergraduateA, November 2014

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Amelia Didie Simao

LA_108_Composition of the Artist

Abraham Burickson

Art Review


When we talk about architects and mention the name, Wright, usually the image of Frank Lloyd Wright comes to mind supplemented by his Fallingwater, his Guggenheim Museum, or perhaps Taliesin. However, Frank Lloyd Wright, as important as he may have been in the field of architecture, is dead and gone. Tom Wright is not. Tom Wright is a British architect working out of London who has designed and guided to completion an iconic work of art/architecture ranking with the Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, the United Nations, or the Empire State Building. You may never have heard of it but you've probably seen it. I'm talking about Dubai's Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs). The United Arab Emirates wanted a national symbol. Tom Wright gave them one.

Great architecture requires three basic elements, a soaring vision, a refined sense of engineering aesthetics, and finally of course, money. The architect must have developed the first two while the client supplies the third. Moreover, the architect must also be able to sell the first two to a receptive client, which is usually the most difficult part. An architect may design dozens, maybe hundreds, of grand and glorious buildings over the course of a career, but unless he can move those with the money to accept his soaring vision, and trust his engineering skills, they remain little more than drawings filed away in some flat-drawer file cabinet. Burj Al Arab is the result of Tom Wright's success in all three of these critical endeavors. The vision came first, the sales pitch followed, then the engineering, on paper and finally in steel, glass, and concrete.

The Burj Al Arab is a symbol of Dubai's...