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Site visit: JW Marriot Hotel and apartments.

Among the many 'iconic' towers that proclaim supremacy over the Doha skyline, one that is set to be the tallest building in West Bay, is slowly taking shape - the JW Marriot Hotel and serviced apartments.

Reaching 52 floors with three basement levels, the building is slated to be taller than the Kempinski Hotel which presently holds the pole position for height in West Bay.

The JW Marriot will be approximately 215 metres above the ground with a multi-faceted facade, comprising cladding, glass and black marble, and featuring a large cantilevered pool deck mid-way up the building.

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Magdy Fahmy, Engineering Consultancy Group (ECG), senior project manager on the project, says that the thing that excites him about the project is that "it will be the tallest building in West Bay, in fact, I think in Doha - and the amazing shape is inspiring, as well as having a cantilevered swimming pool," he explains, with evident enthusiasm.

He describes that the first sod of earth on the construction site "was turned in August 2014, with the expectation that the project would take 33 months to completion".

Ideally located along the Corniche, unconfirmed speculation has it that the unusual curved design of the building is meant to emulate a supportive, rounded hand. If that is taken into consideration, there could be some truth in the conjecture as, where the 'thumb' would be, around the 33rd floor, there, cantilevered out over the streets below, is the substantial swimming pool that spans the full width of the building. It is this feature that sets the edifice apart from any other on the West Bay.

Comprised of steel and concrete Fahmy explains that the structure is incredibly strong "and rigid, with pre-tensioned concrete as its core" to support not only its height, but the cantilevered swimming deck as well.

The suspended pool area is envisioned to be bedecked with palm trees, setting this oasis in the sky to be one of the main drawcards of the five-star hotel.

The pool deck will sit above two storeys of steel structure to support its weight, which in turn will be attached to the core of the building, serving as the cantilever 'fulcrum'.

"The surrounding 'fence' of the 60m x 23m pool is glass," describes Fahmy, affording guests spectacular panoramic views of the city below and sea ahead.

The high-tempered glass is manufactured in Italy and is more than 1,5cm in thickness to ensure guests' safety within their lofty heights on the pool deck.

Questioned as to challenges around the construction, Fahmy laughs and offers by way of explanation: "An open-air pool, suspended on a cantilever, thirty three stories up is not challenge enough?" He adds, "Not to forget all the associated pumps and machinery to keep the pool running..."

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This challenge will be part of the extensive MEP works once the contractor has finally been selected which, Fahmy assures, is in the final phase "about 90%".

Working on a double shift of between 500 and 700 people, at peak time on the JW Marriot construction site, there are about 1,200 people in total, "depending on the items being worked on at any stage" Fahmy explains.

Reputation is everything in Qatar and Fahmy emphasises this when he describes the selection process for the subcontractors on the project: "We choose 'brands' as our contractors; companies that have been in the country for years and have developed a reputation that can be trusted and relied on, that are well recognised" he says.

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"For example, we have a selection of six suppliers for the lifts, but only the best will make it," he clarifies. So too, the post-tensioning work is being undertaken by CCL, "the best in post-tensioning company in Qatar" he says with absolute conviction. And indeed the best is a necessity, given that there are 57 reinforced slabs within the structure, and at peak times, an average of about 500m[sup.3] of concrete is poured per day.

As with any project, finishing on deadline is the biggest challenge and this project is no different. Fahmy says that in addition to this, is the achievement of "very high quality of workmanship. Although it is meant to be five-star project, we are aiming for it to be a seven-star project," he says with a proud grin.

With the huge amount of concrete required, as well as the worksite's small footprint affording little space for manoeuvring trucks, Fahmy says that logistics is an ongoing challenge.

Compounding the storage issues, the development's unique structural design and tight deadline entails extensive use of formwork and, piled in orderly stacks around the construction site, Doka's components take up significant space on this limited worksite.

The site's location, namely in the diplomatically sensitive quarter of Doha, also poses a challenge.

There is no space to use the seaward facing side for materials storage during the project, as the entire stretch is cordoned off owing to diplomatic privacy. This has entailed that much of the construction materials delivery takes place during the hours of darkness, where traffic flow is minimal and congestion can be avoided. "We also pour the majority of the concrete at night owing to the traffic considerations," Fahmy adds.

With a presence in Qatar for the past twelve years, ECG has grown its portfolio as a respected designer consulting firm in the country, and among its achievement is can include the design and tendering of the Hamad Port naval base, work on Hamad International Airport, 17 schools for Ashghal and numerous other projects in the country. Adding to this, it can cite with pride, the JW Marriot, where it can go on record as having achieved rarefied heights of ambition.

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Publication:Construction Week
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Mar 2, 2016
Words:966
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