Abu Dhabi

The Founder’s Memorial pays homage to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The Founder’s Memorial pays homage to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Memorial for Sheikh Zayed

September 2018

Advanced construction techniques that involved the use of drones, robots, lasers and 3D scanners went into the construction and installation of the iconic Founder’s Memorial in the UAE capital that opened earlier this year.

Thomas & Adamson International, an international construction and property consultancy, ensured precision of work on the memorial – known as ‘The Constellation’ – that pays homage to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the UAE.

Whilst the formal inauguration of the Founder’s Memorial  took place on February 26,  the project was fully opened to the public on April 22. The opening marking the Year of Zayed was one of a series of events planned throughout 2018 to commemorate the centenary of his birth.

Located at the western end of Abu Dhabi’s famous corniche, this spectacular 3.3-hectare project featuring a visitor centre and public plaza has, as its centrepiece, a unique public artwork comprising stainless steel geometric shapes, suspended on tensioned cables, providing visitors with a 30-m-high, three-dimensional representation of Sheikh Zayed.

The visitors centre at the landmark.

The visitors centre at the landmark.

Thomas & Adamson International was originally appointed in 2015 as cost consultant during the pre-construction phase of the project and later engaged to provide project management services throughout the two-year construction phase.

Zander Muego, partner at Thomas & Adamson, explains: “We are thrilled to have been involved in a project of this stature and national importance. We are equally proud to have contributed to such an iconic project as the Founder’s Memorial in the Year of Zayed and to have supported the esteemed UAE leadership in realising their vision for the project.”

Designed by American sculptor and public artist, Ralph Helmick, the 30-m-high artwork includes more than 1,350 geometric shapes of varying size.  These platonic solids – comprising shimmering tetrahedrons, cubes, octahedrons, dodecahedrons and icosahedrons – are suspended on 1,100 steel cables in a precise arrangement, providing visitors with a three-dimensional portrait of Sheikh Zayed which can be viewed day and night from a variety of perspectives.

“This has been a challenging yet exciting project for Thomas & Adamson due to the bespoke nature of the artwork; it’s very scale and the level of precision required to ensure the accuracy of the installation,” Muego points out.

Elaborating on the technology that was utilised on its construction, a spokesman for the company says: “The site was surveyed by drones prior to construction beginning with the architectural designs embedded on to the videos to create a life-like fly-through of the finished project. The fly-through video was presented to UAE leaders to ensure they fully understood the design.”

“The complex landscape portal’s concrete structure was cast by using polystyrene formwork to obtain its unique shape. After the concrete was cast, we 3D scanned the concrete structure and created a computer model to ensure that the natural stone – which was imported from Oman – was perfectly cut to size, thus reducing wastage and saving time. When the stone arrived – approximately 2,600 pieces of limestone – it fit perfectly!” he explains.

During installation of the artworks, the 1,350 platonic solids were welded by robots to ensure each one was executed with ultimate precision. “Each of the 1,110 stainless steel cables for the artwork were positioned with the use of a laser. The artist had previously specified that each of the 1,350 stars had to be within 3 mm of his AutoCAD designs,” he adds.

Muego continues: “From the outset of the project on site, it was incumbent upon us as the project manager to lead by example and abide by the core project values of integrity, honesty, compassion, humanitarianism, wisdom, tolerance, co-existence and equality. Each stage of the process was approached with these values in mind and this has ensured that project has been delivered to a high standard.”

Set to become an international tourist attraction, the Founder’s Memorial will provide visitors with a greater insight into Sheikh Zayed’s life and legacy, while showcasing how he paved the way for the future prosperity and well being of his people.

Established in 1935, Thomas & Adamson has grown steadily throughout the years, building its international presence, with offices strategically placed throughout the UK, Europe, the UAE and the US.

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