Israeli-born architect unveils twirling tower for Dubai

Israeli-born architect unveils world's first building in motion.

david fisher 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
david fisher 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Italian Jewish architect David Fisher, who was born and raised in Israel, is building what he calls the planet's first "four-dimensional structure": a skyscraper with 80 floors that rotate constantly, giving it an ever-changing shape and the appearance of another dimension. In a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post from his office in Florence, Fisher said his ambitious Dynamic Tower, set to be completed by 2010, would represent no less than an architectural revolution. "Somebody said the other day, [the tower project] is like Ford making the first car," he said. "It's really a revolution. I have no doubt that in the future there will be more." The 420-meter (1,380 feet) structure will contain giant wind turbines between each floor, providing power to the entire building. Each floor, shaped like a disc, will rotate 360 degrees within 90 minutes, slowly enough to avoid causing motion sickness. Fisher, 59, was born in Tel Aviv and grew up in Israel until he moved to Florence to study architecture at the age of 21. He has relinquished his Israeli citizenship, but wouldn't say why. "I was born in Israel, but I don't hold any Israeli citizenship for many years," was his only comment on the subject, and he declined to elaborate. Incidentally, foreigners can travel to the United Arab Emirates with an Israeli visa stamp on their passports, but because Israel and the UAE don't have diplomatic relations, Israelis cannot fly to Dubai on an Israeli passport, unless they have been personally invited by the UAE. Within two years, Fisher said, elite Dubai residents will eat, sleep, and work while spinning in his tower. The rotating floors, hung like rings around an immobile cement core, would offer residents a constantly changing view of Dubai's ever-expanding, futuristic skyline. Officially known as the Dynamic Architecture Building (but also called The Da Vinci Tower), it will be the world's first prefabricated skyscraper constructed entirely in pieces in an Italian factory before being shipped to Dubai and assembled on the as yet undisclosed site, Fisher told the Post. "Building in the future will be all done in the factory," he said. "All buildings done until today, since 4,000 years ago, have been done on a construction site. This one will be done in a factory. This means higher quality, better conditions for workers, higher efficiency…and saving of money." Assembling a building in this fashion, he said, will require only 80 workers and take only 20 months, saving tens of millions of dollars, for a total cost of $700 million to build. When asked why other architects had not used this method, Fisher responded: "Good question. You should ask the other guys why they haven't done it…. Construction has remained so primitive, which is unbelievable." Fisher announced his first skyscraper project at a recent news conference in New York. He said he began to visualize the design after a visit to a friend's apartment in New York City where he enjoyed a unique simultaneous view of the East River and the Hudson River. "I came back to Florence and began working immediately," he told the Post. "This is when the idea came out. I thought about different speeds, different timings [for the individual floors of the tower]. Since then I have been working on the development: a machine for living." Twisting floors are just one of several futuristic features in the building, the first of several Fisher hopes to build with a similar design. The wind turbines placed between each of the rotating stories will generate some 1,200,000 kilowatt-hours of energy from the movement of the floors, while solar panels will be located on the roof. The tower will also contain car elevators to allow residents to park directly within their apartments, and each apartment will have environmentally-friendly "glasshouse living space." Fisher said nothing like his tower had ever been built before. "There is nothing of the kind. There are rotating restaurants. There is one building that all rotates together, but [it] does not change its shape. It is not dynamic," he said. "I feel very close to engineering, in a sense," he added. "I am surrounded with probably the most famous engineers for skyscrapers. My consultants are the best names in the world, probably." "The most important thing is that people start to believe that everything is possible. In a way, it opens views to a different way of thinking. I get questions from all over the world. I noticed that it gets people to start thinking." Fisher acknowledged at his press conference in New York that he was not well known, had never built a skyscraper before and hadn't practiced architecture regularly in decades. But he insisted his lack of experience wouldn't stop him from completing the project, which has attracted top design talent, including Leslie E. Robertson, the structural engineer for the World Trade Center and the Shanghai World Financial Center. When asked by the Post about the technical challenges facing the project, Fisher said: "We are always looking for solutions in life, and you have solutions when you have obstacles. Of course, we had many, but they are behind us." The Dynamic Tower is designed to combine a hotel, office tower and 200 private condominiums. Apartment sales are slated to start in September, with asking prices of around $3,000 per square foot. The smallest, at 1,330 square feet, would cost about $4 million and the largest, a 12,900-square-foot villa, about $40 million. Fisher said a second Dynamic Tower planned for Moscow is now in the works, scheduled to be completed in 2010, and additional ones are being discussed for New York, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. The Moscow tower will also have a retractable helicopter pad. Both it and the Dubai tower, at over 400 meters, would be taller than the Empire State Building. Fisher is now an Italian citizen who lives in Florence. After graduating from the University of Florence in 1976, he started teaching architecture at the university. Founder of the Dynamic Architecture Group, he is said to have designed buildings and hotels in cities around the world, restored ancient landmarks and developed a pre-assembled technology called the "Smart Bathroom by Leonardo da Vinci." According to a press release issued by Dynamic Architecture, "he has spent more than 30 years working to redefine the technical and technological extremes of buildings in cities like London, New York, Moscow, Hong Kong, Paris and Dubai." Descriptions of him in architectural journals and Web sites range from "fake" to "visionary." His early projects are said to have included a design for a plaza near Jerusalem's Western Wall that was never built. Fisher's office in Florence confirmed by e-mail that he served as Italy's honorary consul in Israel from 1995 to 1998. It said he last visited Israel "several years ago." AP contributed to this report.