A plan for a trio of pavilions by global design firm HOK won World Expo 2020 hosting duties for the city of Dubai, which will be the first in the Middle East to host the international exhibition in its 150 year history. Among other competitors, Dubai beat out São Paulo and the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, and HOK pulled the impressive feat of emerging victorious in the face of a Zaha Hadid design, possibly because Hadid's plan for a lagoon-side park in the Turkish city of Izmir wasn't as swoopy as the firm's usual fare. Working alongside engineering firm Arup and the architects at Populous, HOK designed three large open-air pavilions connected by an impressive undulating canopy of solar panels set on white fabric.
Starting with the lofty theme of "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future," HOK's plan was modeled after the traditional Arabic marketplace known as the souk. Other notable designs in the HOK oeuvre include the broccoli-reminiscent towers dotting the grounds of Istanbul's New International Finance Center, as well as the bulbous, puzzling Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Fla. The next editions of the World Expo will alight upon Milan in 2015, and come to Kazakhstan in 2017 in the form of a shapely complex designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture.