Masdar Headquarters Building. Courtesy Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects

Masdar, Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Headquarters Building



Thornton Tomasetti provided structural design, through construction documents, for a seven-story, 1.25 million-square-foot mixed-use building that could operate as net-positive — generating more electricity than it used.

The building’s primary “engine for sustainability” required an integrated architectural, structural and MEP design strategy. A 7,500-ton roof trellis carrying a seven-acre field of photovoltaic cells was supported by large curving cones that doubled as chimneys — allowing the building to “breathe” by enabling hot air to escape upward.

Calculating the project’s total embodied carbon required scrutiny of every ounce of building material, factoring in both their quantities and sustainable qualities. The design team met the challenge of identifying the best balance between functionality and sustainability by engaging in intensive collaboration during detailed initial studies to get the right mix.

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Specialized Structural Engineering Expertise

Computational Analysis

While the range of shapes and forms that can be designed with modern modeling tools is almost limitless, geometric discipline is still essential for budget control. When forms are still in flux, the design team can use our proprietary tools to interactively study multiple geometric options and establish optimized shapes for structural frames and building surfaces, along with related systems.

Parametric modeling applies parameters such as materials, dimensions or performance criteria to define elements or element categories within a model. Once entered, they can be altered, individually or in combination, to explore and easily incorporate design changes. These 3D models contain intelligent information and can serve as deliverables, or they can be used to generate 2D drawings. Parametric models improve documentation speed and quality, enhance visualization, quickly perform geometry-based analytical tasks and easily calculate material quantities.

Generative modeling uses scripts – instead of direct input – to generate elements, providing even greater flexibility in iterating and testing many options. It allows architects, engineers and other project stakeholders to work together to quickly evaluate any number of concepts and variations.