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Hajj Terminal in Saudi Arabia Selected to Receive 2010 AIA Twenty-five Year Award

WASHINGTON, DC.- The Hajj Terminal at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, designed by the Chicago and New York offices of SOM, has been selected to receive the 2010 AIA Twenty-Five Year award. The AIA Twenty-five Year Award recognizes an architectural design that has stood the test of time for 25 years. The space serves as a gateway for millions of pilgrims who journey to the holy cite of Mecca each year.

The Hajj Terminal, completed in 1981, is a tented structure that covers 120 acres and 2.8 million square feet. The Hajj Terminal form, site relationship and circulation patterns are drawn entirely from the need to accommodate massive groups from all over the world in a short timeframe. SOM joined this stringent functional requirement with vital cultural and vernacular references.

The tent structure that makes up the terminal’s roof strongly resembles vernacular Bedouin shelters and Hajj pilgrim tents that spring up around Mecca during the Hajj season. The terminal is composed of two symmetrical, rectangular sections separated by a landscaped mall. Each terminal section contains 105 tensile fabric tent structures supported by steel pylons and cables. These tents filter out heat and allow in light, creating an open air gathering place for the multi-ethnic contemporary Islamic diaspora to come together and then go forth into places of supreme religious and cultural ritual.

“A marvel of function and design, the structure responds with sensitivity to place, culture and the environment,” wrote AIA Chicago executive vice president Zurich Esposito in a nomination letter.

The semi-translucent roof system reflects most of the desert sun’s heat, but allows light to pass through, keeping temperatures near 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while outside the tent temperatures can be as high as 120 degrees. The terminal is designed to use natural breezes to ventilate and cool the space, and up-lighting makes it glow like a lantern in the night sky. For the pilgrims that use it, the experience is meant to honor their journey and sacrifice with a warm and inviting space that gathers the international Muslim community together in a way that recognizes their cultural and religious traditions.

Past Honors and Awards
The Hajj Terminal at King Abdul Aziz International Airport also was the recipient of a 1983 AIA National Honor Award, the 1983 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and a 1981 Progressive Architecture award. SOM has won four previous Twenty-five Year Awards for the Lever House in New York, the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel in Colorado Springs, John Hancock Center in Chicago, and the Weyerhaeuser Headquarters in Federal Way, Wash. Past Twenty-five Year Award winners include Rockefeller Center in New York, Taliesin West in Paradise Valley, Ariz., the Vanna Venturi House in Philadelphia, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

AIA Twenty-five Year Award | Hajj Terminal | Saudi Arabia |

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