In the first part of this series (May-June, 1971) Professor Ragette chose the Dhahran Air Terminal and the College of Petroleum and Minerals, both in eastern Saudi Arabia, to exemplify how elements which had contributed to traditional Arab or Islamic architectural expression might just as logically be applied to modern buildings. The four main elements—climate, local materials and building techniques, living habits, and traditional forms—were also among the influences behind three modern buildings in Lebanon described in the second part of the series (July-August, 1971): the House of Lebanese Crafts, the Administrative Center for South Lebanon and the American Life Insurance Building.
But perhaps the most extensive and dramatic blending of modern and traditional in the Arab world has taken place in several of the small states of the Gulf region, notably Kuwait, Bahrain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, whose cities have undergone dynamic, almost boom-town expansions during
the past decade, and examples of whose architecture the editors present in this concluding article.
1. The New Mosque-Abu Dhabi
The New Mosque is "modern" only in the sense that this recently constructed building, the largest mosque in Abu Dhabi, exemplifies the timelessness of certain Arab and Islamic architectural forms. Although classic, the repeated arches, the dome, and the long horizontal profile with two minarets as striking verticle accent marks are elements which do not seem out of place in a modern context. The extensive and well-planned floodlighting further helps to bridge the gap between traditional and modern.
2. Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The angular treatment of arches and protruding pointed vaults in reinforced concrete lends an exotic, yet starkly modern appearance to Abu Dhabi's air terminal building. The consultants and architects, Canadian Consulting Company, included a clock tower in a reflecting pool as well as a motel wing in their designs. The contractors, Skanska-Kettaneh, completed the $8,000,000 structure in April 1970.
Friedrich Ragette, Assistant Professor of Architecture at the American University of Beirut, is this year in Vienna. This article concludes his three-part series on modern architecture.