The Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations is a dramatic, yet dignified structure—it is a Gesamtkunstwerk, a work of art inspired by an all-encompassing vision, comprehensively executed down to nearly every detail, facade to furniture. Hospitality and the convening of both friends and strangers are cornerstones of Middle Eastern culture, and the primary driving force behind the design. The layout of each floor is inspired by the principle of the courtyard, with a central reception and gathering space that is accessible from the main entrance or elevator lobby, depending on the floor. For all visitors, this courtyard experience begins with a 40-foot-tall entry hall, which serves as the interior’s signature space. Enveloped in natural, serene materials, the hall includes furnishings customized by Lebanese designer Nada Debs—with whom SOM collaborated for furniture on the second floor as well as the executive levels. The walls, floor, ceiling, and a large sculptural stair are encapsulated in dark, densely veined Northern Canadian limestone. The graining of the stone—a series of ancient layers formed over millennia—express the naturalness of the materiality, and establish that the architecture and finish are one and the same.


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