150m-tall ’anti-icon’ designed by architect of Beijing’s CCTV HQ

Dubai’s latest tall building – a giant inhabitable picture frame – has opened amid a storm over the way its architect was allegedly treated by the client.

The Dubai Frame is a 150m-tall golden rectangle in Zabeel Park which encloses empty space and contains a tourist attraction.

Inside are museums of the emirate’s history and future and, right across the top, a vertiginous walk on clear glass as part of a 93m-long viewing gallery.

It was originally designed by Fernando Donis, a Mexican architect who used to work at Rem Koolhaas’s OMA – where he designed Beijing’s CCTV building, which also famously has a void at its heart.

Donis won the competition in 2009, run by ThyssenKrupp with the International Union of Architects (UIA), and took home $100,000 of prize money.

He claims he was then asked to sign a contract which essentially asked him to step aside from the project. He refused to sign and, despite attempts to take the UAE to court, the project went ahead without him anyway.

He told the Guardian: “It is fantastic to see it materialised. It seems to work on the skyline exactly as we proposed. Of course we would like it to have been much more subtle, with less décor, but it does precisely what I wanted. I just would have loved to be part of it.”

Donis and the UAE have been approached for comment.

OMA's CCTV building in Beijing

OMA’s CCTV building in Beijing