Steve Hawryluk, Vice President, DAVIS
Working with clients from Saudi Arabia was unique and immensely rewarding — an experience that expanded our horizons, and resulted in an iconic addition to the community.
Approaching a project with cultural diversity as its key characteristic can create a variety of rewards and challenges. Building the all-new Cultural Mission of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia (CMRESA) was no exception. The challenges and rewards of constructing this five-story steel building with a three-story underground parking garage prove once again that what makes a project truly great are the relationships you build and cultivate.
CMRESA is one of the many agencies opened by Saudi Arabia on US soil to support educational needs for Saudi Arabian students. It also doubles as an educational intermediary between American institutions and Saudi Arabian students by providing community outreach, resources, and cultural education opportunities.
Constructing With Diversity In Mind
It took a great client and a great team to accommodate special requests and changes in scope, including architectural redesigns. In some instances, the client wanted things unique to their culture — and climate — that weren’t necessary or fiscally viable here. For example, we were asked to install white marble flooring throughout the structure. This is a common feature in buildings in Saudi Arabia to combat the heat, but an expensive feature in Virginia. By looking out for their best interest, we were able to increase trust and reciprocity between our DAVIS team, the architect, and the client.
As for the structure itself, the new CMRESA building features steel framing, a signature precast façade, ribbon windows, curtainwall corner elements, and a full-height radius architectural precast wing wall that is beautifully lit at night. No easy feat. Despite changes that increased the project’s scope, we finished the building on the original schedule. Because of our mutual flexibility and continual dialog with the client, we were able to include one-of-a-kind details that intimately reflect the culture of CMRESA.
A Study in Culture and Sustainability
One of the most rewarding aspects of this project was the inclusion of design details inherent to Saudi Arabian culture and values. The building was awarded LEED Gold® certification, and met rigid security standards.
Photos by Eric Taylor at EricTaylorPhoto.com