Architect in row over design of Dubai Frame

Mexican artist Fernando Donis won a competition to design the structure but now the authority has released images of a radically redesigned Dubai Frame, which he says breaches the original agreement.

Fernando Donis, a Mexican architect, won a Dubai Municipality competition in 2009 to design a new structure for the city’s skyline. Courtesy Dubai Municipality
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DUBAI // City officials are embroiled in a row with an architect over changes to the proposed design of a building in Dubai.

Fernando Donis, a Mexican architect, won a Dubai Municipality competition in 2009 to design a new structure for the city.

Five years later and the authority has released images of a redesigned Dubai Frame, which aside from its shape bears little resemblance to the original design that was to be built in Zabeel Park.

Mr Donis has said the changes constituted a breach of the terms of the competition. He has written an open letter to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to intervene in the affair.

“The tone of the letter and intention to go public is to solicit the intervention of the Ruler of Dubai, as we assume he is not aware of this situation, to hopefully still participate in the process of the project and now make them see that the design alterations they are making – next to unlawful – are misguided,” Mr Donis said.

“The project is being transformed from being non-figurative architecture to an overscale figurative photo frame. That is, from being a modern, public monument to a postmodern pastiche.”

Dubai Municipality’s website says, the building will attract 2 million tourists a year and will be completed next year.

It will be 150 metres tall and 100 metres wide, with a walkway between the two sides of the frame. It will reportedly cost Dh120 million.

Mr Donis said he was offered a contract by the municipality, but one of the clauses stated that he waive his intellectual rights to the project and that he would not be able to use the completed design to promote his own practice.

That, he said, was in direct breach of a clause in the original competition brief, which said: “The author of the preliminary design placed first will keep his copyright and his work may only be used by the Dubai Municipality when he has signed the corresponding contract for drafting the corresponding design with the former.”

Dubai Municipality was not available for comment.