Sheraton Grand Doha has been an iconic building for the past four decades, the cradle of manifold international agreements and symposia. Home of the luxurious Royal suites, where most kings, princes, presidents, and celebrities from all over the world have sojourned and gave speeches.
The landmark was built in 1982 under the orders of the then Amir Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani. The first structure completed in the then new district of Doha was what is now known as the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel.
It was designed by the American architect C.Y. Lee of William L. Pereira Associates, and built by the Engineering Services Department of the Ministry of Public Works.
As quoted in The New Architecture of Qatar by Philip Jodidio, the first general manager of the hotel, Gerhard Foltin, recalls: “I came to Doha on June 30, 1977. I remember that when I got to the construction site, I saw nothing but drawings of the hotel. The surrounding areas and roads had no building or other forms of construction.”
Describing the process of construction that he witnessed, Foltin continued, “As many as 3,000 steel columns were installed as submerged foundations for the hotel. This technique proved to be effective; during the past 25 years the hotel has not exhibited any fissures or cracks.” Aerial photographs of the district from the early 1980s show the Sheraton rising nearly alone on its point of land in the bay.
The 16-storey Sheraton Grand Doha consists of two three-sided truncated pyramids that come together around a central column and at the first storey lobby and restaurant area. The hotel is topped by an additional level that is angled out from the rest of the building, reaching a total height of 57m (187ft). The steel frame structure with white, precast concrete cladding was designed to withstand winds of 160km per hour and cost $150mn to build.
Erected on 40 hectares (99 acres) of landfill at the northern end of the bay, Sheraton Doha was inaugurated on February 22, 1982. Sheraton Grand Doha features a 13-storey high atrium served by five glass-enclosed elevators and surrounded by guest rooms. A ballroom for 700 persons and the conference centre with capacity of 650 are also part of the original project. The hotel currently has 371 rooms and 64 suites. A refurbishment announced in 2011 was carried out over a two-year period.
Sheraton Grand Doha was one of the first structurally innovative contemporary buildings to be erected in Qatar, and the first international hotel in Doha. It gave a forward-looking image to Doha at a time when the city was just beginning its rapid development.
The Sheraton Grand Doha has nowadays become a crossroads of culture, a vessel where past, present, and future meet, and now with the brand’s new vision, the place where the world comes together.