Boasting the largest population in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Dubai is an emerging global city with a rapidly growing tourism sector. In keeping with the emirate’s ongoing transformation, Dubai Health Authority (DHA) desired to upgrade and expand its hospitals to offer citizens, expatriates and regional countries world-class health options.

As part of this initiative, DHA launched an invitation-only design competition for a master plan to extend its current facility, Rashid Hospital, into a leading medical complex. Gresham Smith’s winning proposal addresses the logistical challenges of building around—and then replacing—the existing hospital, the importance of sustainability in a desert climate, and the spirit of a city filled with iconic architecture.

Organized into several functional zones, the large, urban campus will be the cornerstone of Dubai’s regional healthcare delivery system. The north side will be developed as a clinical campus consisting of a tertiary hospital with more than 900 beds, a center of excellence, a central laboratory, a conference and education center, research space, and a 4,000-car parking structure to support the hospital and new central utility plant.

The south side will house a rehabilitation and commercial campus comprising a 320-bed rehabilitation hospital, a wellness center and sports medicine facility, a 250-room, five-star hotel, a family hotel and a retail market. The commercial campus also includes six apartment buildings for hospital employees, villas for visiting physician consultants, and a 2,400-car parking structure.

Given Dubai’s high rate of energy consumption and the UAE’s desire to create a greener city, managing the medical complex’s effect on the environment was a key goal for the design team. Sustainable features include green roofs that will improve energy efficiency, filter pollution from the crowded city and reduce water runoff. The design will also allow limited rainfall to be collected and used for process water. Taking advantage of abundant sunshine, extensive rooftop solar panels will generate part of the energy needed for the complex. To keep building interiors cool, Gresham Smith’s design incorporates geothermal systems, highly efficient exterior envelopes, and window glazing to minimize heat gain.

To streamline flow, vehicular traffic will be organized and separated to provide convenient access to each functional zone—inpatient, outpatient, rehabilitation, hotel, retail, commercial and support services. Public and staff circulation and retail and cafeteria functions will be arranged along courtyards between buildings, providing shade and protection from the desert heat.

When it opens, Rashid Medical Complex is set to reduce the trend of outbound medical travel by providing the Gulf region with a first-class healthcare facility whose landmark design symbolizes Dubai’s modernity and growing global presence.


Dubai Health Authority


Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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Jim Langlois, AIA, LEED AP
Jim Langlois, AIA, LEED AP
Executive Vice President/Market Vice President, Healthcare