Originally opened to the public in December, 2011, the QNCC is the Middle East’s largest convention center. It has a 4,000 seat conference hall and a 2,300 seat theater, nine exhibition halls and 52 meeting rooms. In fact, 7,000 people can squeeze into the facility’s three main halls at once.
Designed by the Japanese master to mimic Sidrat al-Muntaha, a tree believed by Muslims to symbolize the end of the seventh heaven, it boasts a roof full of solar panels that provide approximately 12.5 percent of the building’s total energy requirement.
A giant rectangular glass box with an overhanging roof supported by curious tree-like columns, the building is about 32 percent more efficient than a comparable building in the small emirate, partially thanks to passive solar design and energy efficient lighting and mechanical systems.
Whilst the sprawling hall in no way resembles an actual tree, Isozaki recalls the Al Sidra tree out of deference to Qatar’s earliest scholars.
“The tree is a beacon of learning and comfort in the desert and a haven for poets and scholars who gathered beneath its branches to share knowledge,” he writes in his design brief over on Dezeen.
In addition to being larger than the rest of the convention centers throughout the Arabian Peninsula, including the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center that usually hosts the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) and other popular international conventions, it was built to LEED Gold standards – a little before that became the “cool” thing to do.
The recent LEED Platinum award for Saudi Aramco’s Al-Madra Tower highlights the pitfalls of this rating system, which fails to take into consideration a whole system approach to sustainable building, but Qatar Foundation building in Doha does make some water conservation and energy efficiency progress worth noting.