Yas Arena Plans Unveiled

HOK is designing Abu Dhabi Arena, part of the new $12-billion mixed-use entertainment complex

  • by Lisa White
  • Published: June 14, 2017

Yas Arena, Abu Dhabi, will be part of a $12 billion multi-use entertainment complex.

St. Louis-based HOK Design unveiled the latest renderings of Yas Arena, a new multipurpose sports and entertainment venue on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The facility is part of a $12-billion mixed-use development that will include adjacent retail and dining on a boardwalk.

The new 18,000-capacity arena, which can contract to a 500-seat theatre, is the first on the island to be designed to accommodate a wide variety of events. HOK is working with ESP and Pascall+Watson to deliver the arena. The team was engaged by Miral Asset Management, the entity responsible for the development of the broad southern part of Yas Island.

“This is a fantastic project, and we’ve been working with our client for some time,” said John Rhodes, a director of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice.

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The goal of the project was to create an intimate, highly flexible and efficient venue with excellent acoustics that can be used year-round for a variety of sport and entertainment events.

This focus on flexibility carries over to premium and back-of-house spaces. The arena is designed to adapt to a diverse set of events, including community gatherings, concerts, performances, sporting events, and meetings and conventions. Premium spaces include a VIP lounge that can be transformed into a grand ballroom for events, hospitality boxes and unique terrace bars for receptions and parties.

Additional amenities, including food and beverage, will be located adjacent to the arena to create a linear street that stretches down the waterfront promenade. This outdoor concourse will create a festival-like atmosphere to generate year-round activity. The outdoor concourse will provide connectivity to the surrounding district on Yas Bay.

Yas Island is a new multipurpose leisure, shopping and entertainment destination that includes a hotel cluster, the Yas Marina, F1 circuit and a growing number of theme parks. The new venue will be located directly on the waterfront and serve as an anchor for the promenade that will feature more than 50 cafes and restaurants, 20 retail outlets, a recreational pier, two hotels and a beach club.         

“Abu Dhabi has specific requirements, and the scale of events is much different than in the U.S. and Europe,” said Rhodes. “The building is tailored to the market, which demands a lot more hospitality, and also to the nature of how shows are set up. We’ve optimized premium and exhibition spaces [with this design].”

In addition to a unique typology, which is different from traditional North American arenas, what also sets the new arena apart is its location on the waterfront by the sea.

“It runs alongside the waterfront, so the actual building layout is symmetrical to respond to that,” said Rhodes. “The lower concourses can act as a mall, so this will be a very active building on non-event days.”

Rhodes said a start date and date of completion have not yet been set, but construction on the arena is anticipated to begin in the next few months.

  • by Lisa White
  • Published: June 14, 2017