Kalima Translation Project Releases “Skyscrapers” by Architecture Historian Judith Dupre
Under sponsorship of Emaar Properties, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi has released “Skyscrapers: A History of the World’s Most Extraordinary Buildings”.
The book comes within the framework of the cooperation agreement concluded between the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi and Emaar Properties Group to promote the “We Support Culture” initiative. This initiative aims to enhance the role of national companies, institutions and business sector in the movement of writing, translation and publishing, to contribute to the development of book publishing and distribution industry and to have a positive impact on cultural life and reading community in UAE and the Arab region.
The book is written by author and Architecture historian Judith Dupre, translated into Arabic by Ahmad Mahmoud and reviewed by Omar Saeed Al Ayubi. The book is for people who like to look up as they walk through city streets. It is for those who are interested in why and how skyscrapers are built.
Being one of the authors of best-selling books according to the New York Times, the author points out that skyscrapers play many roles as they are city icons, movie stars, and workplaces. They reflect great hopes and dreams of the nation. They are solutions to urbanization in many parts of the world, thus skyscrapers have been exported to different parts of the world after being a unique art form in America. While New York and Chicago were two major places for skyscrapers during the last century, today’s emerging cities in the Far East and the Middle East are the new white pages. The book is an eclectic review of the outstanding skyscrapers that pushed the art of high-rise construction upward. The book has a chronological order to illustrate the stylistic evolution of skyscrapers from the very rigid construction beginnings of the 1880s in Chicago to Manhattan’s lavish creations that symbolize its golden age between the two world wars, and after that, through the emergence of international style, active post-modern recycling and hybridization of modernist, post-modern and local methods. The book is full of images that are meant to provide information beyond what can be obtained from the text. They document the final urban experience of the 21st century.
The author of the book describes Dubai as an example of tremendous urban development in the world. She says, “Dubai enjoys sunshine most of the year. It is a safe, friendly and tolerant haven that seeks to improve its infrastructure by building new airports, roads and metro systems in preparation for its further growth in the future. Dubai has been built on one basic premise that high-quality high-rise architecture will attract business and tourists and make the emirate of Dubai the Middle East’s financial and tourism hub. The city needed a symbol, so came the idea of Burj Khalifa, as the world’s tallest building. This strategy has succeeded in making Dubai one of the most known cities around the world.”
The author praises the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, saying that he is a visionary leader. He was the first to envision amazing buildings like Burj Al Arab, which created a sense of wonder about Dubai. Burj Al Arab was followed by a two-mile marina in the desert, where water was brought from the Gulf to create dozens of new waterfront sites. On the book’s cover is a fascinating image of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, being the world’s tallest tower. The book states that Burj Khalifa is the highest building in the world, it is so high that it casts its shadow over clouds. Its legendary height created a sense of wonder about its structure and its unique location close to the beach. According to the tower designer, Adrian Smith, its graceful triangular shape was inspired by the triangular shape of the desert flower and the decoration of traditional Islamic architecture.