Amazing Architecture: Five Brilliant Buildings by Great Architects

hospitality and hotel photography

Architectural photography of the Opus Building Dubai, photo by Gerry O’Leary”

From Doha to Damman, I am invited to photograph buildings of all shapes, sizes and forms. I am honoured to capture these architectural subjects and cast them in their best light to be immortalised through the lens. Though many of these are less well-known than the famous buildings of Dubai, they are no less intricate or fascinating aesthetically.

After more than 30 years as an architecture photographer, I still find projects that catch my breath. When standing in front of the great works of architects such as Zaha Hadid and Yahya Jan, I am reminded that genius always sees beyond what’s possible and astounded how they make it a reality. These are five buildings that I have photographed across the Middle East that still cause a flutter when I see them in person. 

1. Opus Building

Designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, the Opus Building sits by Dubai  Water Canal near Business Bay. This 20-storey building looks like a sheer glass- panelled cube from the side until you come to view the back or front and the surprising void at the centre! This area has a fluidity that makes it appear in motion when as the light moves. According to the designer, it explores “the balance between solid and void, opaque and transparent…” which I agree. It is an impressive feat. The building houses ME Dubai and it is the only hotel that Hadid designed both the interior and exterior.

Architecture Photography in Dubai : Dubai: Etihad Museum: Moriyama Teshima Architects
Professional photography of the Etihad Museum, photo by Gerry O’Leary

2. Etihad Museum

Celebrating the 1971 signing of the document that created the UAE, the Union Museum holds many items of cultural significance to the country. It is located at the top of Jumeirah Beach Road, beside what us Dubai-dwellers call “the flagpole”. Though much of the museum is underground, the striking entrance pavilion is a marvellous feature, designed to represent the parchment that the unification agreement for the emirates was written upon. The tapered gold columns represent the pens used to sign the document. This building is very close to where I live in Dubai, so I get to admire the work of Moriyama Teshima whenever I’m in town.

Architecture Photography in Dubai : Qatar National Convention Centre, Doha: Architect Arata Isozaki
Building photography of the Qatar National Convention Centre, photo by Gerry O’Leary

3. Qatar National Convention Centre

When I first arrived in Doha to photograph this structure in 2011, I don’t think I’d ever seen a convention centre quite like it. It was designed by the Japanese architect, Arata Isozaki, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize a few years later. Immediately the façade catches your eye – resembling two trees supporting the overhanging canopy. The tree symbolises the holy Islamic Sidrat al-Muntaha. It’s a remarkable piece of architecture that houses a busy building with many events.

Architecture Photography in Qatar : The Hitmi Building, Doha, Qatar: Architects The Norr Group
Architectural photography of the Hitmi Building, photo by Gerry O’Leary

4. Al Hitmi Complex

This residential and office complex by The Norr Group situated on Doha Corniche made a massive impact on the city’s skyline when it first arrived in 2012. Even now, it looks as futuristic as it did over a decade ago. With Yahya Jan’s creative vision, it is as beautiful inside as out, with interior gardens and abundant natural light falling through the glass atriums. Whenever I’m shooting in Qatar, I’ll do a detour to catch a glimpse of Al Hitmi reflected on the water.

Architecture Photography in Dubai : Rosewood Hotel Abu Dhabi, UAE: Designed by Handel Architects
Professional building photography of the Rosewood , photo by Gerry O’Leary

5. Rosewood Hotel Abu Dhabi

Gentling curving over 36 storeys into the sky above Al Maryah Financial District in Abu Dhabi, the Rosewood Hotel shimmers by day and night due to its reflective glass cladding. Handel Architects really understood the brief when creating a hotel for this part of the world, as not only does it look mesmerizingly modern, but every feature is sustainably designed, and it brings in the natural light while keeping guests cool. It was a joy to photograph as it stands out among the buildings around it, yet also ties them together with its swooping elegance.

Favourite architectural spaces to photograph

With a career in professional photography, especially of interiors and exteriors, my eye for well-designed structures goes beyond a hobby and into an occupational necessity. I don’t play favourites, as I’m intrigued by each form and finding the best angles to photograph them.

Can you recommend any buildings I might be interested in?

Please get in touch if you have questions about my architectural photography or would like to learn more about how I work.