Capital Gate: The Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi, an Architectural Masterpiece

Great cities need great buildings, and a tower symbolizing the city’s progress and evolution would definitely fit the bill for a city like Abu Dhabi. The Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi is a skyscraper completed in 2011 with a height of 165 m (540 ft) and 36 stories with offices in the lower half and a hotel in the upper half. The building is a focal point of Capital Centre (one of the largest developments on the main island of Abu Dhabi) made of a business district and inter-connected with the thriving Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). An helipad on the Capital Gate building lately received clearance from the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), thus making it the first commercial tower in Abu Dhabi to receive the license. “The license will facilitate the arrival and departure of dignitaries and decision-makers at international events, exhibitions and conferences,” ADNEC said in a statement.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the world’s leading resource for professionals focused on the inception, design, construction, and operation of tall buildings and future cities, recognized Abu Dhabi’s Capital Gate Tower ( as a ‘First of a Kind’ skyscraper. For its unique shape and lean, it was a nominee in the 2011 CTBUH Awards Program.

The building (Design Architect RMJM admired for their technical achievement) features an innovative architecture that’s completely asymmetric in shape and no two rooms are the same. What’s also unique about Capital Gate Tower is that it was purposely constructed so that it inclines 18 degrees to the west, which has earned it the title of “world’s furthest leaning man-made tower” from the Guinness book of world records.

“It is the first building in the world to use a pre-cambered core with a built-in lean of 350 millimeters that has been engineered to straighten with the addition of the upper floors. It is also the first building in the world to use vertical post-tensioning of the core to counter movement and support stresses created by the building’s overhang.” – Jeff Schofield, Associate, RMJM

“The tower’s curvaceous shape draws strongly on the sea and desert – two elements that have great resonance in Abu Dhabi. The building’s form is meant to represent a swirling spiral of sand, while the curved canopy, known as the “splash,” which runs over the adjoining grandstand and rises on one side of the building, creates a wave-like effect, reflecting the building’s proximity to the water and the city’s sea-faring heritage.” (

Today, the Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi stands out on the skyline where it dominates the waterfront at the western edge of the ADNEC complex. Why would anyone want to explore this signature tower? As its website points out, it has “far reaching views across Abu Dhabi and the Arabian gulf”, but it is also home to approximately 15,000 sqm of exclusive office space and to a 5 Star ‘Hyatt Capital Gate’ hotel.”

Capital Gate: The Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi, an Architectural Masterpiece

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