Conceived as a monument to diplomacy, the GCC Headquarters in Riyadh is designed to speak across time. Its architectural design honors Islamic architecture through a modern vocabulary to bridge past, present and future.
Omrania designed the 36,000-square-meter project in 1987. The program includes a variety of diplomatic and parliamentary functions, housed within three limestone-clad buildings encircling a central plaza. This configuration creates a ceremonial approach and clear connections throughout the site.
The largest building houses the offices of the General Secretariat. The second-largest building is the most symbolically important: the conference center, placed on the highest part of the site, recognizable by the circular drum that crowns its central meeting hall. The third building is the residence of the General Secretary.
All three buildings share a cohesive architectural design vocabulary. The design solution combines the fortress-like facades and small windows of Najd architecture with the symmetry of architectural Iqtisad (balance), exemplified by traditional mosques and monuments throughout the Muslim world. The square corner towers of the three buildings distantly echo minarets and wind-catchers, and incorporate modern abstractions of muqarnas. At the same time, the Platonic shapes of the conference center’s plan nod to Western Classical precedents. Intricate geometric patterns embellish the interiors. In deftly integrating these elements, Omrania’s design honors the cultural ties of the Gulf states.
Omrania designed the site’s landscape of palm groves and patterned pavement to survive the harsh desert climate and visually complement the architecture. A 13,000-square-meter car park is hidden underground.