TDIC to award Louvre Abu Dhabi contract by June

Project's master developer says all its museum projects will be completed on schedule
TDIC to award Louvre Abu Dhabi contract by June
An artists impression of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
By Andrew Sambidge
Fri 06 May 2011 10:17 AM

Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Council (TDIC) has said it will award the main construction contract for its flagship project, The Louvre Abu Dhabi, before the end of June.

The master developer originally planned to assign the main contractor for the Saadiyat Island project in June 2010, but has pushed back the contract award date at least three times.

“At the moment we are in the final stages of appointing the main contractor... all tenders are subject to TDIC's standard tender procedures which are both robust and confidential,” said the TDIC in a statement this week.

“Piling work is complete the main contract will be awarded in the second quarter of 2011.”

The iconic museum, scheduled to open in September 2013, is being developed alongside the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum on Saadiyat Island, as part of the $27 billion art and culture project, the Saadiyat Cultural District.

The Louvre and the Guggenheim, the first of their kinds outside the Western world, will be spin offs of the Louvre museum in Paris and New York's Guggenheim, while the Zayed National Museum will tell the story of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the history of the region.

“Discussions on the main contract [for the Louvre] have been going on for quite some time now,” said Kevin Mitchell, UAE director of Buro Happold, the engineering consultants for the project. “The procurement process is taking a lot longer than all of us would have liked.”

The firm’s Middle East managing director Roger Nickells said delays were mainly due to the complexities of construction.

“It’s a deeply complex project with some huge challenges on the long span steel work with some very difficult environmental processes.

“All too often in this market [developers] have just bailed into things and the project delivery team has understood the project as they’ve gone along. For this one, the TDIC is actually taking the time for all of these bidders to properly understand how to do it.”

He adds however, that there is no reason why the project shouldn’t meet its scheduled completion date of 2013.

The building, to be shaped like a floating dome, was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, to represent "rays of sunlight passing through date palm fronds in an oasis.”

According to the TDIC’s director of project delivery for museums, Felix Reinberg, the TDIC shortlisted between 10 and 20 companies to build the project.

In an earlier interview with Arabian Business, he put delays in awarding the contract down to “the magnitude and importance of the Louvre Abu Dhabi project,” adding that decisions had been taken “to accommodate requests from the bidding contractors.”

This week, the TDIC confirmed that all of its museum projects were on schedule.

"TDIC is moving forward as planned with all of its announced projects including all the museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District,” the developer said in a statement.

“The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be completed by the fourth quarter of 2013, the Zayed National Museum in 2014, closely followed by Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.”

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