MGM Grand Complex

Three hotel brands, a conference center, retail and residential apartments are united in a single structure that incorporates regional typologies, including a large covered, central courtyard.


The MGM Grand Complex occupies a prominent position within the entertainment, retail, and commercial redevelopment of the Mina Zayed Waterfront. Placed at the end of the existing Dhow Fishing Harbor, the project is at the intersection of a series of critical visual corridors. Rafael Viñoly Architects’ design combines three hotels, a conference center, retail space, and boutique residential apartments into a new landmark structure.

The massing strategy breaks the building mass visually into a strip and a terminus, located prominently on the pier’s central axis. The cylindrical concept focuses both outward and inward, emphasizing the public realm at its core and panoramic views of greater Abu Dhabi at its perimeter. It is simultaneously intimate and private in orientation, yet dynamic and public in function and scale. The large shaded garden space at the center is inspired by the shading and relief of a desert oasis, and as such draws from regional architectural typologies, including mosque courtyards and covered markets. With shading provided by a roof and natural ventilation passing through openings between the podium and tower buildings, a comfortable, sustainable microclimate is created in the interior space.

The design includes a modern, fully glazed curtain wall that maximizes outward views to the City and Arabian Gulf. This exterior façade is veiled by a monumental mesh screen that rotates around the complex, tracking the sun in its path across the sky each day. The screen evokes the traditional Islamic mashrabiya, sheltering the building from the sun while affording residents privacy and views to the exterior. For even greater impact on the city skyline, the screen becomes an animated façade at night with images illuminated on its surface of integrated LED fixtures.

When complete, the project will furnish a new, high-tech image of sustainable desert living, demonstrating the commitment of Abu Dhabi, Mubadala, and MGM to environmentally and contextually sensitive design.