What is Abu Dhabi’s oldest commercial building? It’s a question that I was curious about, though never knew where or how to find the answer.
Turns out, it’s the Bin Aweidah Building, a humble but handsome three-story concrete-and-glass Modernist building on Hamdan Street, next to the Crowne Plaza, according to The National.
Dating to 1968, the building originally housed Westinghouse on the ground floor, and the rooftop penthouse for Saadiyat Island’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Research Station.
The building could also reference Mies van der Rohe’s steel-and-glass masterpieces, and adds geometric flourishes along the roof cornice, and foreshadows the glass-heavy architectural styles that would dominate Gulf architecture.
The ground floor used to be a hive of activity — I counted signs for White-Westinghouse, Emirates Travel, and Arab Business Systems.
Nick Leech has a great article in The National about the building’s history:
As David Spearing remembers, the modest building took less than a year to complete, using architectural drawings flown in from England – there was no way of producing or reproducing architectural plans in Abu Dhabi at the time – and the services of the Dubai Contracting Company.
Now the Bin Aweidah Building presumably awaits demolition for a condo or office tower, and one of Abu Dhabi’s gems will be lost forever.
Abu Dhabi could still save it with a Landmarks Preservation Committee type organization to preserve Modern architectural gems, like Mina’s Bayt Al Jenaibi.
Post updated with more insights on the building.