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ABU DHABI, UAE-A new $6.8 billion addition and renovation to the Abu Dhabi International Airport is just another example of the tremendous growth in the region, says the architect of the project. The government, which owns the airport, is building a new terminal and expanding in other areas to accommodate an expected increase in passengers from eight million currently to 50 million by 2015, showing the tremendous residential and commercial growth of the area.

Lee Polisano, president of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, tells GlobeSt.com that a high standard of living is attracting close to 25,000 immigrants a month to move to the area. “The government is looking to create a sustainable community for the next 30 years, and is investing heavily in the infrastructure,” he says.

Phase one of the redevelopment of the 5.9-million-sf terminal, to be completed by 2012, will include 42 gates. Ultimately, there will be more than 90 new gates. The new “X”-shaped Midfield Terminal complex will be able to accommodate 20 million passengers by 2012, and more than 50 million, plus more than two million tons of cargo, annually by 2015. The plan also includes a new control tower, cargo buildings, additional runways and commercial development. The country’s national carrier, Etihad Airways, will make the airport its home base. Land near the airport has been set aside for commercial development, and will benefit from a free-trade zone.

The government is really dedicated to creating a complex that is environmentally and people friendly, while also being modern in design and infrastructure, Polisano says. “This airport, one of the largest in the world, is being designed with customer service in mind, something that’s very important when you accommodate very large numbers of people moving from one place to another. For example, there will be quite a bit of added retail shops, but the design is to put them on the edge of a large, indoor public garden, to create a social environment inside the airport.” The “X”-shaped plan includes a large ticketing hall, framed by a series of long-span steel arches that will support a soaring roof, with the middle of the terminal dominated by a large garden.

He says his London-based firm first saw the tremendous amount of growth in the country when it completed the headquarters for the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority two years ago. “We saw the values the government has in terms of society and the environment,” Polisano says. “They really value the quality of place, and openness, those are the things that really stuck with us, that’s why we competed with 40 other architectural firms for this project.”

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