Project team:

Client: Qatar Museums Authority/QT
Architects: I.M. Pei Architect/USA, CN
Exhibition architects: Wilmottes & Associés, FR
Exterior lighting and lobby lighting design:
Fisher Marantz Stone/USA
Exhibition lighting design: Isometrix/UK


Products applied:

Exterior wall washers equipped with 35 watt CDM-T lamps, Sill
Wall washers in the water: Wibre
Exterior uplighters: Erco
Uplighters in the lobby: Rodust & Sohn Lichttechnik
Luminaire in the dome: Rodust & Sohn Lichttechnik
Recessed luminaires in the lobby: Rodust & Sohn Lichttechnik
Motorised spotlights: custom design, Zumtobel
Spotlight heads: Museum & Gallery Lighting
Square spots: Litelab
Control system for spots: Dynalite

20. Sep 2009


Text: David Müller
Photos: MIA, Rashid Alkubaisi, Isometrix, Wilmottes & Associés

In the course of his long career, 92-year-old architect Ieoh Ming Pei has designed a number of remarkable projects. The Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha, Qatar, was a totally new experience for the renowned American architect. No costs or efforts were spared to create a real jewel for the city directly on the Persian Gulf. The lighting design practices Fisher Marantz Stone and Isometrix, respectively, were commissioned to design the exterior and interior lighting. Would they be able to give Pei’s ‘rough diamond’ the final sparkle it deserved? The Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha is part of Qatar’s strategy to open up to foreign tourists. Celebrities from all over the world were invited to the opening ceremony. Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood was there, as was British artist Damien Hirst and gallerist Jay Jopling. For the Chinese-born American architect Ieoh Ming Pei, it was most probably the last cultural project he would develop in this form. In fact, the 92-year-old had to be “persuaded” to give up his retirement for a while to make this project happen. Although Pei had worked on projects around the globe during his long career, he was relatively unfamiliar with Islam. He therefore decided to take a three-month trip through the Islamic World to study the culture, the art, and of course the architecture. He was especially inspired by the Ahmad ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo – an extremely sober, even strict-looking structure with a large central courtyard. The Museum in Doha was to provide space in which to exhibit works of Islamic art which the Al Thanis – Qatar’s royal family – had collected over the decades. Some of the textiles, ceramic objects and manuscripts are extremely sensitive and hail from many different Islamic countries, as well as from Spain, India and Central Asia. The architecture was to have a special position in the town. To avoid it being surrounded by other buildings one day and thus losing some of its significance, an island made of reclaimed land was built especially for Pei’s cultural masterpiece. To protect this island from the strong Golf Stream currents coming from the north, a C-shaped peninsula was created, which also serves as a small harbour. This peninsula stretches along the coast like a half-moon made of palm trees and dunes, protectively shielding the museum island and concealing some somewhat unsightly industrial buildings along the way. […]
The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 68.

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