KAFD Conference Center – Structural Engineering

The Conference Center, one of seven anchor buildings at King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh, is defined by its bold structural design—an organic, faceted geometry, inspired by the desert landscape, that connects the building with the surrounding terrain. The design responds to the district guidelines, which require all buildings to have faceted exterior enclosures.

The Conference Center is composed of three distinct structural systems. A four-story underground substructure houses parking and mechanical facilities. Above ground, the conference facilities are housed in two independent steel structures. The large, column-free spaces are spanned using a combination of steel trusses and composite columns, with a lateral system of reinforced concrete walls. An independent structural steel “mega-roof” spans over these buildings and rests directly on the concrete substructure.

The roof is composed of a uniform network of structural steel elements, with steel columns that support the roof nodes at the large spans. The geometry of the roof is reconciled at the corners of the facets in drum-shaped steel nodes. Straight primary members run along the facet edges and connect to the nodes using a standard connection. Secondary members run within the plane of each facet and connect to the midpoints of the primary members. The secondary members brace the primary ones and provide support and attachment points for the facade.

The folded geometry of the roof provides structural stiffness, creating a continuous channel to drain rainwater and sand, and facilitating the natural flow of air, which aids the MEP systems. Inside, the space between the angular roof and the conferencing facilities defines a network of daylit gathering spaces. The facility includes a 600-seat auditorium, a multipurpose event space, and various conferencing facilities.