When most of us think of convention centers, we think of big empty spaces that are certainly not very environmentally friendly. That’s not the case for the next generation of centers — case in point, the very cool looking Qatar National Convention Center. The striking 177,000 square meter structure is seeking a LEED Gold Rating, a first for a building of its type in the region. When it’s completed next year the center will boast 3,700 square meters of solar panels in addition to a host of other resource-saving features.

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The Qatar Convention Center was designed by Yamasaki Architects, is based on a concept design by Arata Isozaki, and has a total budget of 720 million dollars. The building’s most iconic feature will be a massive steel representation of a Sidra Tree that supports the external canopy of the building and serves as its main entrance.

The building will feature 3,700 square meters of solar panels, which will provide around 12% of the building’s total power. The choice to go with solar energy makes a lot of sense, granted the region’s sunny arid climate. The center is also fitted out with occupancy sensors, water-efficient fixtures, LED lighting, carbon dioxide monitors, and variable air-volume systems that minimize the use of resources and improve the indoor air quality of the space.

The convention center is slated to open in 2011.

+ Yamasaki Architects