Image courtesy FXFOWLE/LIFANG
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Like many global design firms, FXFOWLE is finding fertile ground in Saudi Arabia. In Riyadh, the country’s capital, the New York-based firm has six active projects in the King Abdullah Financial District, a 55 million-square-foot, mixed-use development. Among them is the Museum of Built Environment, which aims to explore the role that social, economic, and environmental forces have played in the region’s constructed landscape, both historically and in recent times. 

The 340,000-square-foot museum will be sited near a large plaza bisected by a sunken pedestrian parkway. It will house galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, a 150-seat auditorium, and a restaurant, in addition to a monorail station and a network of skywalks.

The museum’s lower levels will be largely transparent, while its upper portion will be more opaque, according to the architects. Resembling a chiseled rock and partly clad in prismatic laminated glass panels, the building’s design was inspired by two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia: Mada’in Saleh, an ancient city featuring rock-cut architecture, and At-Turaif, a 15th-century complex made of adobe.

Site excavation for the museum has begun, with completion slated for 2012.