CMA-CGM Headquarters / Nabil Gholam Architects

© Geraldine Bruneel

Architects: Nabil Gholam Architects
Location: Beirut,
Photographs: Richard Saad, Geraldine Bruneel, Fouad el Khoury

Project Area: 6,300 sqm
Structural Engineer: Bureau d’études Rodolphe Mattar
Electro Mechanical Consultant: Barbanel Middle-East
Façade & Energy Consultant: ARUP Façade Engineering
Landscape Architect: Atelier Renée el Khazen

Overlooking Beirut and its port, with views across the Mediterranean to the mountains beyond, this transparent composite structure packs the full range of functions and amenities expected of the headquarters of the world’s third largest container shipping company.

© Richard Saad

The building acts as a catalyst to the future development of the area, while remaining sensitive to its immediate surroundings in terms of zoning envelope and street alignments. Three carefully detailed glass prisms, intersected by a full-height atrium, slide against each other to create an efficient machine to work in. The prisms follow a rational design concept that allows for the greatest efficiency and flexibility in space planning. An ambitious structural design and a judicious location for the vertical service shafts and circulation cores mean the 81% of floor plates are virtually clear of any columns obstructing the views or the furniture layouts.

© Geraldine Bruneel

While the building offers a distinctive sculpted silhouette, all office plates are set on standard planning grids, allowing them to readily accommodate the market’s standard partitions, furniture and fittings. The building operates using a high level of environmental strategies. The ground floor exhibition space is designed around an impressive 40m long water wall and reflection pool that filters and ripples the street views from the lobby, enhancing its serenity and establishing the company’s maritime heritage while helping the cooling of the space.

© Richard Saad

The innovative facade concepts, with fixed vertical Pietra Serena stone sun screens shading elements on the SW facade and the ventilated screen facade facing NE and NW, using a high selective glass will minimize the solar gains in addition to protecting this areas against the high external noise level. The increased daylight supply through the highly glazed facade reduces the internal gains for artificial lighting and therefore the cooling consumption. Photovoltaic panels / solar tubes covering the entire technical roof harnesses the same sun rays for heating the water for bathrooms and kitchens and electricity support. Rain water is collected and used for irrigation and re circulated to feed grey water networks. These strategies are developed to reduce the building operating costs for the company while enhancing the comfort of its employees.

© Richard Saad

It is an architecture that states with simple timeless elegance the image of a corporate giant with environmental sensitivity and a family oriented business culture.


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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "CMA-CGM Headquarters / Nabil Gholam Architects" 28 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • Zarchitect

    I was in beirut last week and the building appealed me from the DT area, unfortunatly I didn’t find the time to go and take few shots of it :-)). Nice work again from Nabil Gholam. My only concern is about the interior shots, they look little doomy.