The Al Faisaliyah Centre
is a commercial skyscraper and mixed-use complex located in the business district of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The 267-metre-high office tower, the centrepiece of the Foster + Partners development, it is notable for having been the first skyscraper built in Saudi Arabia, and for the monumental stained glass wall of its lobby, designed by architectural artist Brian Clarke in collaboration with Norman Foster. Presently the fourth tallest building in Saudi Arabia after the Kingdom Centre, Burj Rafal and Abraj Al Bait,the Center presently ranks as the 325 tallest building in the world.
History and structure
First appointed to the architectural practice Foster + Partners in 1994, the complex was commissioned by Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal, with construction begun in 1997. The complex is made up of the central office tower, a five-star hotel, a three-storey retail mall, and a banqueting and conference hall. The skyscraper comprises 30 floors of office space, above which, at 200 metres above ground level, an observation deck provides a panoramic view of Riyadh. The 240,000-square-metre Centre was completed in May 2000, with the skyscraper opened to the public in the same month.The skyscraper, also called the Star Dome, contains one of Saudi Arabia's premier restaurants, "The Globe", located in the sphere above the observation deck, possessing 360 degree views of the city.
The stained glass
In 1999, the artist Brian Clarke, who had formerly collaborated with Norman Foster on architectural art proposals for Stansted and Chep Lap Kok airports, was commissioned to design a 22,000 sq. ft. wall of glass for the modular lobby space connecting the complex's hotel, north of the tower's base, and the tower's residential and retail developments. Clarke's initial designs for the project, produced in 1994 and incorporating traditionally-leaded stained glass and an interrelated glass mosaic floor for what was then known as 'The Link Building', developed in tandem with the architect's resolution of the complex, and were resolved as an integral, five-storey-high glass art 'skin', considered a landmark development in the history of stained glass.