Showpiece City – How John R Harris made Dubai

John R Harris Partnership (JRHP), located in Dubai and formed in 1949 by John R Harris was acquired by Aukett Swanke Group in 2015. The firm features prominently in an excellent new book by the acclaimed architectural writer Todd Reisz called ‘Showpiece City – How Architecture Made Dubai’, published by the Stanford University Press, the link for which is: .

The book tells the story of the first 40 years of the transformation of Dubai from a modest marine trading town located on the creek with a population of 20,000 inhabitants in 1950 to what is now a worldwide destination hub and trading port extending 35km south westwards forming a mega-city with a population of just under 3,000,000 people. John Harris’s son Mark, having graduated from Harvard in architecture and urban design, succeeded his father in 1996. In recent years he has collaborated with the author to provide a wealth of material and background history to this most significant period of Dubai’s history.

In the late 1950’s John R Harris was invited by the then Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, to develop a Master Plan for the rapidly growing city. Since then, many of the region’s most significant buildings emanated from the JRHP studio including the now iconic Dubai International Trade Centre – completed and opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1979.  The World Trade Centre, as it is now more universally known, includes the significant 150m high 40 storey tower which at the time was the tallest building in the Arab world.