Nobu Doha’s design unveiled

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The look of the Nobu Doha restaurant, which will open in the later part of 2010, was unveiled yesterday by celebrated architect David Rockwell, CEO of Rockwell Group, which is doing the interior and exterior design of the restaurant.

“The first time I saw the area where Nobu is to be built around two years ago, it was 110 degrees outside and so I realised shade was a critical element to the building’s success and led to the creation of the design of the building reminiscent of the pearl…,” said Rockwell.

Rockwell, who said he got interested in design and architecture when he was about six or seven years old, showed the three-story design of the restaurant at a press conference. The 26,000-square-foot restaurant, which is in the early phases of construction, is located on Doha Bay at the Doha Four Seasons Hotel.

While exhibiting the iconic Nobu elements of natural, rich materials that reflect the cuisine and rural Japanese roots of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa (who has partnered with actor Robert de Niro, producer Meir Teper, restaurateur Drew Nieporent and managing partner Richard Notar), the location will also reflect the history of Doha and feature many one-of-a-kind art installations that the Rockwell Group commissioned for this project.

“I think Doha is exceptional. I think it is a city that takes care of its waterfront… What Four Seasons and I wanted was to create a beacon for Doha, because that space is very prominent,” he said.

Rockwell said the building will have elliptical ribbons of river stone capped with bronze accents form the exterior, resembling a coiled shell and creating the three tiers of the restaurant. Through the coiled exterior, one will see slats of bronze framing the window system and a stacked basalt tower at the open air core of the building, all permeating every floor of the structure. A reflecting pool will surround the perimeter of the building, accentuating the connection to the unique waterfront site. At night, carefully designed lighting will illuminate the distinct and subtly complex forms of the building. Nobu will redesign the landscape and lighting of the existing causeway, which will lead guests by car from the Four Seasons Hotel Doha to the restaurant. The area will have a bronze-clad atrium and prominent stacked stone waterfall feature that sets the mood of the restaurant.

The second level will include the main and private dining rooms, the White Pearl, and the outdoor terrace. The lofty double-height main dining room, which has a seating capacity of 82, will be framed by woven abaca panels custom-made by Philippine artist Ken Cobonpue. Featured throughout the space will be end-grain wood floors, columns clad in white seashells, and a field of spherical glass light fixtures of various sizes custom-crafted by Canadian artist Ken Gangbar. Seating in the main dining room extends to a generous terrace area with expansive views of the harbour. The curved walls of the private dining room will feature hand-painted murals by Japanese artist Hideki Kimura.

The third level will include the rooftop terrace and the Black Pearl, an outdoor lounge.

“Our collaboration with Nobu Matsuhisa has been one of the most important and successful partnerships of my career. I could not be more excited to bring to Doha the synergy between food and design that we have created over the past 15 years of working together. This is also a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the opening of Rockwell Group Middle East, bringing us closer to existing and future clients in Asia, India and Africa,” said Rockwell, who said he likes creating something that brings people together and does research on the cuisine (for restaurants), the metal work and the area, among other things.

Rockwell said he is in the Middle East to celebrate the opening of Rockwell Group Middle East, their satellite office in Dubai.

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