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Sir Norm May Go To Mecca; Renzo Gets Malta


by Jerome Weeks 5 Dec 2008

The Grand Mosque in Mecca In big-name architect news: A project to build a 188-story tower in Moscow — designed by Sir Norman Foster, the architect of the Winspear Opera House, recently fell through. But now it appears he and fellow celebrated Brit architect Zaha Hadid are among the finalists to take on one of […]

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The Grand Mosque in Mecca

In big-name architect news: A project to build a 188-story tower in Moscow — designed by Sir Norman Foster, the architect of the Winspear Opera House, recently fell through. But now it appears he and fellow celebrated Brit architect Zaha Hadid are among the finalists to take on one of the biggest and touchiest projects in architectural history: re-designing Mecca, specifically a giant mosque complex to hold the millions of pilgrims to the Islamic holy city.

The development would more than triple the central al-Haram mosque’s current 900,000 capacity, making it the highest-occupancy building in the world.

The plans are thought to be backed by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. The remit is to “establish a new architectural vision” for Mecca’s 356,800sq m mosques complex. The King is to be presented with the proposals by Hadid, 58, and Foster, 73, with those of the other designers at an exhibition at the end of the month.

Sources close to the project told The Architect’s Journal the scheme is likely to be phased, the first stage taking the al-Haram mosque capacity to 1.5 million. That would rise gradually until three million was reached. Neither Foster nor Hadid wanted to comment on the project last night. Hadid’s spokesman said he “could neither confirm nor deny” speculation, while Foster’s office said: “It has been leaked and not from us so I’m unable to comment.”

Meanwhile, Renzo Piano, the architect of the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Kimbell expansion, has been hired to re-design the City Gate and the Royal Opera House on the island of Malta.

Image from www2.math.uic.edu

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