Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) corporate headquarters
The world-class engineering behind a grand design vision
The Abdul Latif Jameel (ALJ) corporate headquarters building in Jeddah was envisaged as a social office to house 2,300 staff. According to architect Andrew Bromberg of Aedas, the client’s vision was a facility that provides various social interaction zones through an open and flexible layout.
Due to the intense heat in Saudi Arabia, Aedas oriented an L-shaped building with the solid face of the building fronting west, thus bearing the brunt of the intense afternoon sun.
This unique shape meant that the structural engineers had to devise a tailored support structure that would not compromise the design vision of an open-plan space. Andy Mak, Principal Structural Engineer says the L-shaped office areas have been arranged in a manner that gives an architectural tapering effect – both legs of the L-shape are arranged slightly differently from the adjacent floors. This posed a challenge in determining the column layout to suit the open plan office and in integrating it with the car park layout in the basement.
Our engineers developed sophisticated models using Revit design software and worked to integrate these with Aedas’ models, which were produced using the Rhino platform. The teams went through many iterations of overlaying the Revit and the Rhino models to coordinate the optimum column arrangement.
This unique shape meant that the structural engineers had to devise a tailored support structure that would not compromise the design vision of an open-plan space.
Our engineers developed sophisticated models using Revit design software and worked to integrate these with Aedas’ models
The link bridges were an integral part of the design and the key visual element in the atrium space, as well as the only route to get building services into the office space. The link bridges were also used to anchor the L-shaped floors back into the large lift shafts. Mak also noted that the strength and stiffness of the structure was provided by using high-strength reinforced concrete, however, post-tensioned concrete was used for the building’s office floors, as it can better withstand the tension from the tapered columns.
Another significant challenge encountered by the structural engineers was the soft bedrock, as the site is located on dense sand, where the bedrock is more than 60 m below ground. This site condition meant that long friction piles were required to support the loads of the building. To minimise the loads on the piles, soil structure interaction analysis was conducted, incorporating the piles and soil into the structural analysis model. This facilitated the design of a piled raft foundation system where 20 per cent of the foundation load was shed from the piles into the ground bearing raft, delivering a more efficient design, explained Andy.
*The Aurecon Africa business has been officially renamed Zutari as at 21 July 2020. Zutari acquired Aurecon Middle East on 20 November 2020.