Marshall Strabala is the Chief Architect of Shanghai Tower, working on behalf of the building's owner and developer, Shanghai Tower Construction & Development Co. Ltd. In this role, he directs all design and engineering work on the building. Strabala was also an Associate Partner/Studio Head at SOM Chicago where he led the design team for the 828m-high (Burj Khalifa) with Adrian Smith as Design Partner.
Strabala now leads STRABALA+, a global architectural firm with offices in Shanghai, Seoul and Chicago. Marshall Strabala is well-known for designing award-winning office buildings, performing arts venues, and convention and exhibition spaces worldwide. This includes the design of three of the world's 10 tallest buildings: the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE; the Zifeng Tower in Nanjing, China; and Shanghai Tower, China's tallest building to be completed in late 2015 in Shanghai.
Strabala is a member of the American Institute of Architects, is LEED AP accredited, and a graduate of Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. His more than 100 works worldwide have been honored with 10 awards and honors, including American Institute of Architects' Honor Awards (2), ASHRAE Excellence in Engineering Awards (2), and the Chicago Architecture Club’s Burnham Prize.
Yahya Jan is President & Design Director at NORR. With over 30 years of global experience, Yahya leads the design efforts of the group’s operations in the Middle East and Asia.
Yahya undertook his undergraduate and graduate studies in the US, earning a Bachelor of Science in Architecture & Engineering and a Master of Architecture, both at Princeton University. A licensed architect in New York, Yahya worked for 10 years in New York and Boston, before moving to the UAE in 1996. He joined NORR’s Dubai office as the Senior Designer on the Jumeirah Emirates Towers.
Since then, Yahya has played a lead design role at NORR, bringing to life visionary projects throughout the region, including signature office developments, residential and hotel towers, retail malls, and multi-use developments.
A prolific architect, Yahya believes in the ability of integrated design to transform the built environment. Central to his design philosophy is a multi-disciplinary approach that includes owners, architects, structural & environmental engineers, and others, working collaboratively to unlock hidden potential. An advocate for research and design collaboration, Yahya believes that a key challenge in the continuing evolution of our cities is the need to question conventional wisdom. A winner of numerous international awards, Yahya’s design and research is featured at conferences and in leading publications worldwide.
Ammar Al Assam is the Chief Executive Officer at Dewan Architects and Engineers. He joined Dewan in 2003, and has taken the lead in developing and implementing the strategic plan for the growth of Dewan into a global multi-disciplinary and multi-market leading A&E firm.
In 2007, Ammar led the transaction team that secured a strategic investor in the form of Ithmar Capital, a leading regional private equity firm, thereby allowing the firm to successfully expand geographically and penetrate new markets.
Serving as both Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Directors, Ammar continues to be actively involved in the development of new business opportunities, harnessing strategic relationships and partnerships, and in breaking into new vertical and geographical markets. Dewan has successfully set up regional offices in Qatar, Saudi, Iraq, Philippines, and Vietnam in the last 10 years and has projects across the Middle East, Africa, SE Asia, and Europe.
With the growing importance of environmental consciousness and the need for expertise in designing buildings that are green, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. Ammar has helped lead the development of the corporate culture of the firm to be one that is focused on designing buildings that are sustainable and Dewan has actively and successfully designed buildings that have received LEED and ESTIDAMA certification.
Today, Dewan Architects + Engineers is a truly regional firm operating in the Gulf, the Levant, Asia and North Africa, and offers multi-disciplinary design services with the firm being ranked by prestigious industry publications in the Top 50 globally and Top 4 regionally.
“Stuart leads the façade engineering discipline for Arup in the Middle East and is responsible more generally across the building design group for client care and work winning. He has over 24 years of experience with Arup in the global built environment spending significant time in the Arup offices in Dublin, London and Singapore prior to being one of the five founding members of the Arup UAE offices in 2006.
Stuart holds a BSc in Structural Engineering, is a Chartered Engineer and is a Fellow of the Society of Façade Engineering. He has experience with all building typologies with particular skills with complicated projects and is an integrator of multi-discipline engineering into architectural solutions through open and close collaboration with some of the world’s top Architects. The projects on which he has led the design range from a private house in the temperate yet seismically active suburbs of Tokyo, through the Prada store on sunny Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, through a university in the humid Jungles of Malaysia to the soon to open Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport in its coastal-desert surroundings and many in-between.”
Firas Hnoosh has over 20 years of professional design experience. Recently, Firas founded the architecture and design studio, Nordic Office Architects; a design firm that specializes in more than building design; from the urban scale of a city to the scale of piece of furniture. Before founding NOA, Firas was the Principal and Design Director of Perkins+Will’s Dubai studio. Prior to Perkins+Will, Firas held the position of design director at the Abu Dhabi practice of the international architecture firm Gensler. Before joining Gensler, Firas led a design studio at the London office of the renowned architectural design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) where he developed a focus on high-rise buildings and high density developments.
Firas advocates and promotes a design approach to create holistic architecture by designing buildings as response to their context in its multiple facets; urban, social, cultural and environmental. His approach aims to create spaces and buildings that are inclusive, of-their-place and -time and expressive of their brief and client aspirations.
Firas’ built works include The Lexicon Tower in Central London, Manhattan Loft Gardens in London’s Olympic Village, the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal in Mina Zayed Abu Dhabi, The Basaksehir Hospital Complex in Istanbul and several residential buildings and hotels in the Middle East Region both on the boards or under construction.
Firas holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He is a chartered licensed member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) in the UK and a LEED Accredited Professional.
With more than 15 years of experience with leading international practices in the UK and the Middle East, David has a proven record of creating, presenting and developing an international level of design work. His experience spans the commercial, hospitality, residential and retail sectors, and includes the design of large stadia and sporting facilities. In these projects, he has also played a key leadership and business development role with both local and international clients.
Previously employed by internationally acclaimed studios Hopkins Architects and Glenn Howells Architects (GHA), David was engaged in numerous projects including the London 2012 Olympics as well as the Dubai World Trade Centre and Meraas’ Engineers’ Office Headquarters. At SSH, he is working on various projects within the Dubai Creek Harbour development, the Al Marjan Island development and the Burj Square master development.
As well as holding a Bachelor of Arts with Honours Degree in Architecture and a Post-graduate Diploma in Architecture, David is a Chartered Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
Farah Kurdi is the Built Environment Sector Lead – Middle East and the Abu Dhabi Territory Manager at Mott MacDonald Limited with responsibility for setting the business strategy, business planning and development and the delivery of Built Environment projects in the Middle East. She was recently promoted to manage the Abu Dhabi Office with an estimated 500+ employees working in Energy, Water, Transport, Advisory in addition to the Built Environment Sector. Prior to joining Mott McDonald last year, Farah worked in portfolio and operations management at several international companies, including AECOM and Parsons.
Farah received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2001 from the University of Jordan and an MBA from the German Jordanian University in 2015. Moreover, Farah is the recipient of the 2017 Female Executive of the Year Award by Middle East Consultants Awards, an achievement made possible by her leadership skills.
She also routinely appears on construction speaking panels, with a recent appearance at the BIM Middle Summit in October 2019.
Ben Piper is a Design Director with 17 years of professional experience in architecture (based in Dubai for last 10 years). He has worked with a variety of global practices including Gensler, Halcrow, Atkins & Perkins + Will in designing hotel, residential and mixed-use developments in the Middle East, India, China, US and the UK.
Ben established the Perkins + Will Architectural Design Studio for the Middle East and North Africa and has since moved on to help establish Killa Design, a new Architectural Studio in Dubai. Significant wins in the hospitality and residential sector have included the Diplomatic Quarter Hotel and serviced apartment project in Riyadh (Marriot), The BLVD Heights Project; a 45 story residential twin tower for Emaar located in the Burj district. While at his previous firm (Atkins) Ben was the lead architect for ‘The BLVD Address Hotel’ (5 star hotel and serviced apartment building for Emaar (under construction in Dubai), lead architect for the Namaste ‘W Hotel’ (300 key hotel for Starwood Group, under construction in Mumbai) and lead architect for the ITC Office Headquarters (LEED platinum project for 10,000 IT workers under construction in Bangalore). Ben holds several technology patents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology based on his research into the field of computational design tools
Belarmino is Technical Director at AESG where he leads facade engineering and parametric design. With a strong academic background in Architecture, environmental design and construction technologies, he brings a unique approach to the construction industry based on care for architectural detail, innovation and providing integrated solutions to complex multidisciplinary issues. He has worked with world-leading architectural practices, contractors, developers and statutory bodies across Europe, America and the Middle East, assisting them to resolve their challenges through technical expertise, problem solving skills and delivery focus.
Ralf has over 13 years of professional experience in Asia, Australia, Middle East and Europe. His predilection with architecture is one that exerts a comprehensive knowledge base spanning from conceptual design through to project delivery.
As an accomplished and inspiring leader, he has led his teams to the successful completion on a series of significant projects of varying sizes with broad experience in lifestyle, hospitality, residential and commercial projects. He asserts an all-rounded position which can only be conditioned by a well-balanced program of commercial practice, academia and building. His continual dedication to ongoing knowledge, research and challenge of design methodologies is channeled via his commitment to lecturing at the departments of architecture at Canadian University in Dubai.
Ewa has an impressive international portfolio. An experienced architect with significant skills in the design and procurement processes, Ewa has worked on numerous projects involving concept design, schematic design, planning application submission, detailed design and the delivery of construction documentation. Working in architectural practices around the world, she now directs a large team with a host of disciplines and expertise to realise the design intent and develop effective technical solutions for each project.
With over 15 years of industry experience, Ewa’s notable works include masterplanning, residential, hospitality, commercial, retail, transport, education and mixed-use projects. In the Middle East, she has worked on Bahrain Marina, a 135,000m2 luxury waterfront; The Galleria on Al Maryah Island, part of Abu Dhabi’s Financial Centre offering a wealth of retail and dining experiences; City Walk in Dubai, an iconic landmark of the city; The Beach in Dubai a waterfront destination and Riyadh Park Mall, one of Saudi Arabia’s most exciting lifestyle destinations.
Wasim AI Azzeh has more than sixteen years of practical experience in the fields of design, construction and the built environment. He is the head of Global Sustainability & Built Environment Sector for Khatib & Alami, overseeing implementation of sustainability practices for projects design & execution as well as for K&A business operations. Wasim completed his Master degree in Sustainability & Environmental Management from Harvard University with distinction. Also, he has a bachelor's degree in Architecture Engineering with (Honors) from Jordan University of Science & Technology. He is an accredited professional in the Leadership in Environmental & Energy Design (LEED) certification system, and holding accreditation in several sustainability and environmental rating programs, such as (Estidama & QSAS). Mr. AI Azzeh has been involved in the sustainability engineering and management for many projects over the broad sector of design & construction segments. Also he is a member of Emirates Green Building Council Technical Committee & representing K&A in the council's board meetings and sustainability industry events. Mr. Wasim AL AZEH is also K&A’ Representative of the Private Sector in the Executive Committee of Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE).
Wasim core professional competencies span over:
Benjamin has been working as a façade professional for almost 20 years with projects around the world and long-term positions in London, New York, Dubai and Stuttgart.
After building up and heading the Dubai office of Werner Sobek in the position of Executive Vice President, Benjamin joined the Werner Sobek Head Office in Stuttgart, Germany and acted as Team Leader for Façade Engineering. In 2012, he joined Meinhardt Façade Technology in the role of Technical Director. Since October 2018, he is Head of Façades at Ramboll Dubai and became Associate Director in 2019.
Benjamin has extensive research experience in the field of façade engineering and contributed with numerous papers, publications and presentations at international conferences. In 2019, he has been appointed as the Chairman of the Society of Façade Engineering (SFE) Middle East Chapter.
Area of expertise
• Design of conventional and complex curtain wall systems
• Complex geometry facades (one & two-way curved, warped)
• Cold bending of glass incl. curved and spherical curved IGU’s
• Thermally enhanced and double skin façade systems for green building design
• Unitized façade systems incl. custom designs
• Glass as structural element (truss, fin, bracing)
• Cable walls, cable net facades
• Typical and complex steel structures
• Lightweight tensile and cable structures
• Grid shell skylights (directrix/generatrix translation geometries, conventional geometries)
• Glass fibre reinforces plastic (GRP) and carbon fibre reinforces plastic (CRP)
• Pre-cast concrete, stone and terracotta
• Fire performance and fire safety of façades
Andy has over 30 years of experience in the field of Building and Construction, ranging from structural testing within the nuclear industry to fire testing.
Having established the Dubai Facade Technology Centre and Laboratory in 1997, and operated it for 10 years, he has particular knowledge of heavy structures testing and weathertightness testing of facades, curtain walling and building envelope systems; and business life in the Middle East.
Andy is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building, Fellow of the Society of Façade Engineers (chapter of CIBSE) and member of the Glass and Glazing Federation; holding or having held senior committee positions in the local chapters of these organisations.
As a façade consultant he continues to provide input into the GCC codes and is a regular speaker at industry technical seminars across the region.
Kourosh has had 25 years of experience in delivering complex architectural projects in the UK, Asia and the Middle East, of which the later 15 years were in the capacity of a design and team leader. Having worked on several key residential, retail and mixed-use developments, Kourosh is familiar with all stages of design and construction from concept design to completion, and has an extensive senior management track record.
With regard to business development, Kourosh has had 15 years of experience in cultivating the emerging Asian markets, especially on establishing a presence in new cities by winning major commissions and securing new projects. Kourosh is also active in the academia, having been a visiting tutor and examiner at universities in the UK and the UAE.
Chris leads the BuroHappold Specialist Consulting discipline in the Middle East. A skilled Project Director with over sixteen years’ working experience in fire safety, Chris’ work has a strong focus on performance-based design. Most recently this has included tunnel, rail, industrial, stadia, heritage, cultural, facade and aviation projects. Chris has lived and worked in England, Scotland, Spain, Australia and now the UAE – his CV includes projects in KSA, Qatar, Romania, Montenegro, Turkey, Singapore, Azerbaijan, Latvia, and Pakistan. Focusing on collaborative design, and the adoption of international best practice, means Chris has a proven record for delivery which has built solid client relationships on a reputation for pragmatic engineering solutions.
Jens has over 25 years’ experience in the design and documentation of a wide range of structures throughout 24 countries, from seismic retrofit in Nepal and Iran, Towers in Europe, Africa and in the Middle East, Sports Stadiums in Azerbaijan, Multi Arenas in Europe to large scale commercial and residential developments in the GCC countries.
Jens has particular expertise in high-rise structures, precast building systems and building physics. Jens has experience with exanimating as well as mentoring master and PhD students at university level in relation to research and development projects.
Barry is a practicing structural engineer with over thirty years of experience in the design of commercial, retail, residential and public buildings.
He has a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Sydney University. He has worked in Sydney, London and for the last 13 years in Dubai.
Areas of specialty include high-rise buildings, composite construction, post-tensioned structures, forensic engineering and building assessments.
Barry has designed the tallest building in Sydney – Chifley Tower and the tallest building in Muscat – Muscat Air Traffic Control Tower.
He has been involved in extensive retrofitting of shopping centres in both the Middle East and Australia including all expansion projects at Mall of the Emirates and City Centre Mirdif.
He has also acted as a Structural Expert Witness for the Contractor in major arbitration cases for several high rise buildings in Dubai.
He is currently the Building Structures Practice Leader for Mott MacDonald in the Middle East Region.
Dr. Spanos is a Chartered Engineer with 20 years’ of experience in sustainable building services innovative design. As a KEO Regional Manager, he provides consultancy services to public institutions, investment funds, developers, signature architects and contractors. His management and consultancy experience include the development of sustainable buildings developments and urban solutions in UK, Europe, West Africa and MENA. Following a Doctorate in physics, he has been exposed in the design of projects within commercial, education, mixed use, regeneration, residential, leisure, master-planning and sports sectors. During the last 12 years, he was involved with the design of many near zero energy developments. Spanos has been shortlisted for and has received various regional awards.
*Speakers to be confirmed
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