New milestone hit at Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal Building as roof supports removed

A new milestone has been hit at Abu Dhabi Airport’s Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) as contractors have begun to remove supports for the building’s huge roof structure.

The 20,000-tonne curved roof structure is the centrepiece of the Dh10 billion MTB project and the most complex element of its engineering. It features the world’s longest indoor arch at its centre, which will be 52 metres tall at its highest point and weigh 1,000 tonnes. This will be supported by 18 arches of varying sizes.

To date, the roof has been held in place by 30 steel temporary supports, which themselves weigh 14,000 tonnes. These will be removed through nine de-propping exercises carried out by a team of 45 specialists using 60 hydraulic jacks. Removal of the props is expected to take about six months and will complete by next February.

The chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac), Ali Al Mansoori, said it was “truly amazing to witness” progress at MTB.

“We are extremely proud to maintain our track record of achieving key construction milestones safely in spite of the project’s architectural complexity,” said Mr Al Mansoori. “Currently, the whole project is 55 per cent complete and it is expected to be 70 per cent complete by the end of 2015. We owe this tremendous success to our outstanding construction team, the contractors and [Adac] Capital Projects & Construction Division, for masterminding a cutting-edge approach for this immensely complicated task.”

The 18 arches supporting the roof are of different heights and incline to support the weight of the central arch. They have been built using two, 80-tonne mobile cranes and two, moveable tower cranes. One of these is the biggest of its kind ever used in the region. Once work on most of the structural elements and the glazed exterior completes later this year, work will move inside towards the fit-out and integration of its systems.

The structure is being built by a joint venture between contractors Arabtec, Consolidated Contracting Company (CCC) and Turkish airports specialist TAV Construction. It has been designed by US architectural practice Kohn Pedersen Fox.

ADAC’s chief programmes officer, Sulaiman Al Siksek, said: “Although we’ve reached a milestone on this project by beginning the de-propping, the hard work on creating this iconic terminal building continues. We have an army of 20,000 workers on this 3.5 million square metre site, supported by a fleet of the latest construction equipment, including 24 tower and mobile cranes. The steelwork for the four piers is complete and good progress is already underway for the enclosure structure.”

Once complete in July 2017, the new MTB will boost capacity at Abu Dhabi International Airport to over 45 million passengers a year.

A new study from BMI Research has stated that despite fears about lower oil prices, the UAE is set to enjoy something of a construction boom over the next five years as a result of increased spending on real estate and infrastructure projects.

“In both the real estate sector and infrastructure, significant activity will be maintained in the run-up to Expo 2020, with little downside risk from oil prices,” it said.

As a result, BMI has revised its forecast for the UAE’s construction sector sharply upwards. It now expects the sector to grow at 8.3 per cent this year (from a previous estimate of 4.85 per cent). It also upgraded its average annual growth forecast for the sector over the next five years to 7.2 per cent, up from 5.8 per cent.

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