The new BLF headquarters moving towards realization: Snøhetta teams-up with local architect Nabil Gholam

For immediate release – Beirut, April 6, 2017. Following the selection of Norwegian-American renowned Snøhetta as the winner of the architecture competition for the construction of Banque Libano-Française’s (BLF) new headquarters in 2016, the Bank is pleased to announce that the project team is now complete.

In addition to the multidisciplinary international consultancy Buro Happold and the lighting consultant Bartenbach, Snøhetta and BLF have signed a cooperation agreement with the Lebanese studio of Nabil Gholam Architects (NGA) on February 20 in Oslo.

Continuing the work on Snøhetta’s competition-winning design proposal for the new headquarters, the team is now taking the conceptual design to the next level. Over the last months, archeological excavations have been carried out and geotechnical surveys are currently being executed.

“We are excited to have such a strong team in place and see the project moving forward; I am confident that NGA will bring an undeniable contribution to the realization of Snohetta’s Magic Box in Beirut”, stated General Manager of Banque Libano-Française Raya Raphaël Nahas.

Through its many social spaces and connection to the surrounding city, the design of the new BLF headquarters aims to emphasize BLF’s strong, authentic and open personality, both within the building’s walls and externally.

Banque Libano-Française had launched in 2016 an international architecture competition to build its headquarters in a strategic plot located at the Northern main entrance of Beirut, facing the sea and the Port from one side and the dynamic and creative Mar Mikhael area from the other. It first chose 35 well-known local and international architects and emerging talents prior to short-listing 8 contestants: Danish-American BIG, Spanish Barozzi Veiga, British Farshid Moussavi, Japanese Kengo Kuma, Italian Piuarch, Norwegian-American Snøhetta, as well as Lebanese Nabil Gholam and Youssef Tohme.

The studios presented their works in front of a jury composed of Walid Raphaël (Chairman General Manager at BLF), Raya Raphaël Nahas (General Manager at BLF), Luca Molinari (Architect, professor and consultant), Hashim Sarkis (Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at MIT), Jean-Christophe Fromantin (Member of the French parliament and Mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine) and Li Brian Zhang (Editor-in-chief of the leading magazine World Architecture).

At the end of a rigorous and innovative selection process, BLF announced the selection of Snøhetta studio.

Throughout the competition, the architects’ visits to Beirut also featured gatherings between the architects and the Lebanese academic and artistic communities, as well as real estate professionals within the framework of conferences, exhibitions and receptions organized by BLF.

“BLF new headquarters is meant to be a powerful urban landmark that will improve its surroundings and make the difference in the contemporary city condition. It will have a coherent ecological approach and be green-labeled. It will also be an accessible building, open to the public and will dialogue with Mar Mikhael and Beirut through welcoming public spaces and several connections with its neighborhoods”, as stated by Raya Raphaël Nahas during a public event.

“A client like BLF brings out the best in us!” declared Founder and Partner of Snøhetta, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen. “A city like Beirut challenges the definition of urban typologies and the contradictory architectural interpretations. A site like this captures the relationship between the different parts of Beirut, the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains. Our project responds to these conditions”.

The project reveals an extraordinary architecture, a stone veneer and multiple large cuts and modular openings overlooking a 360-degree view… Elements that will undoubtedly turn BLF new headquarters into an iconic urban landmark harmoniously blended in Beirut’s skyline.




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