Image Source: Arch Daily

Yahya Jan’s creations are probably what you notice if you gaze out at the Dubai skyline. He holds the positions of president and design director for the architecture and engineering firm NORR, which is responsible for some of the most recognizable structures in the city, such as the Atlantis and Shangri-La Hotels. He is now engaged in one of his most significant projects. The Ciel Tower, which will be finished in 2023 and stand at a height of over 1,200 feet (365 metres), will include more than 1,000 rooms and suites spread out over 82 levels.

Image Source: LinkedIn

The passion behind the success

For the project, Jan was entrusted with creating the skyscraper’s design on a triangular parcel of land in Dubai Marina that had a limited — for a structure that height — space of just 2,500 square meters. It’s a really compacted characteristic, he remarked. “Similar to what you could encounter in Manhattan or London. We had to find a way to overcome the severe limitations.” Heart of Europe, Dubai’s ambitious megaproject, is about to complete its first phase. According to the developer, The First Group, a glass observation deck would provide 360-degree views of the city, the coastline, and famous sites like the man-made Palm Jumeirah Island.

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Where architecture and engineering meet

The project is not only visually pleasing but also energy-efficient, Jan noted, utilizing 25% less electricity for air conditioning than is normal for buildings of comparable size. “It’s not only about architecture in this endeavor. The integration of engineering and architecture is the focus”, he added. “I adore the project so much because of this. The marriage of science and art is one of my greatest passions.”

Jan’s unplanned legacy

Image Source: NORR Group

Jan never imagined he would leave such a legacy in Dubai, creating some of the most recognizable malls, business buildings, and residential towers when he first came to the city in 1996. He was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, and at age 18, he traveled to the US on a scholarship. He received a Master’s in architecture from Princeton after studying structural engineering there. After that, Jan spent nine years working in the US and had no plans to return until he was given the opportunity to work as a senior designer on the Emirates Towers office and hotel complex.

He said that he had never intended to stay in the UAE for as long as he has, at 57. “25 years in Dubai have been incredible,” he stated. “The enthusiasm here got the better of me.”

Jan believes that the Ciel Tower, which takes its name from the French meaning sky, will be regarded as timeless like the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building in New York City.

“The reason I prefer the name Ciel is because I feel the sky is the limit in our own lives, and that’s definitely the case in my own life,” he remarked. “I’ve got the opportunity to develop and achieve things that I never thought I’d have the chance to do”.

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