By Suryatapa Bhattacharya

ABU DHABI // A historic fort in Al Ain and the world’s tallest building in Dubai have been named two of the year’s top architectural works.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies announced the Al Jahili Fort and the Burj Khalifa as among the winners of the 2010 International Architecture Awards yesterday.

The institutions annually recognise building designs in categories such as new architecture, landscape architecture, interiors and urban planning.

The two UAE edifices are among more than 90 winners from around the world, including buildings planned, under construction and finished. More than 45 countries submitted hundreds of designs; all were created by some of the world’s most eminent architects and design firms.

Al Jahili Fort was renovated by the German-based architects Roswag and Jankowski Architekten Partnerschaft.

“Al Jahili Fort is a unique architectural and heritage monument,” said a representative from the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach). “One of the main aims of the authority is to revive the traditional and historic buildings of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.”

Adach renovated the historic fort for two years before it was opened to the public on the UAE’s National Day in 2008 as a museum and exhibition centre. The fort has since hosted several cultural events, including annual concerts such as the Abu Dhabi Classics and the World of Music, Arts and Dance (Womad).

The fort was built in 1898. It now houses an information centre and a permanent exhibition dedicated to the explorer Wilfred Thesiger. A multimedia show, photos and videos allow visitors to weave in and out of rooms that have maintained their original, austere character.

“The qualitative leap that has been witnessed by this cultural movement in Al Ain includes the founding of several distinct cultural heritage projects,” said Mohammed Khalaf al Mazrouei, the consultant for culture and heritage at the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi’s court and the director general of Adach.

The Chicago-based architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill was recognised for its work on the Burj Khalifa, which was opened this year. The world’s tallest building, it stands 828 metres high. Construction on the skyscraper started in 2004 and was completed in October 2009.

“We can confirm that Burj Khalifa has won the best new global design for the 2010 International Architecture Awards,” said a representative for Emaar Properties, the Dubai-based real-estate group responsible for the development of the tower.