ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi's Louvre museum is finally taking shape. The foundations of the building on Saadiyat Island were completed this week as the last of more than 4,500 pilings were put in place, said Felix Reinberg, the director of museum projects delivery for the Tourism Development and Investment Company. "The museum is underground, so it's a pretty significant element to this project," he said, calling this phase of construction a "milestone".
"This is a precursor to the substructure. It's the foundations to support the superstructure and that awesome dome that everybody is eagerly awaiting to have completed." A total of 4,536 steel and reinforced concrete pile sections were required, with each piece measuring between 20 to 22 metres long. "If you laid them each end-to-end, that's just about 100km, which would take you almost from Abu Dhabi to Dubai."
Work on the planned museum, designed by the Pritzker prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, has been difficult, not least because construction is on reclaimed land. "This project is in the seas, so that in itself is major," Mr Reinberg said. A "diaphragm wall" had to be created during the excavation to hold back water. "The artworks have to be protected and we have a waterproofing system in our basement, so all the concrete is tied together with very limited amount of expansion joints so the water does not intrude to the basement."
Ground was broken on the 24,000 square metre complex in May 2009. It is scheduled to open in 2013. Work also began this week on the foundation of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, with 1,400 piles to be placed on site over the next six months. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org