Gold Coast-based DBI Design has achieved international recognition for its design of the billion dollar Etihad Towers, winning third place in the Emporis Skyscraper Awards.

Announced at the close of 2012, the annual Skyscraper Award recognises global excellence in both aesthetic and functional design for high-rise architecture.

The winners were chosen from over 220 skyscrapers completed in 2011 and DBI Project Director Warren Coyle says it is a great honour to be acknowledged alongside some of the world's most recognised architects.

Architect Frank Gehry took out top honours for his first skyscraper, 8 Spruce Street, located in New York, followed by SOM’s Al Hamra Tower in Kuwait.

Emporis, a global provider of building information, is regarded as an international authority on highrise building design. Nominees and winners are chosen by Emporis editors - architecture experts from around the world - who praised Etihad Towers as ‘a particularly harmonious ensemble of buildings.’

Etihad Towers (pictured), which took five years to complete, is a major mixed use development comprising five towers, ranging from 56 to 77 storeys, with a total of 885 apartments, a commercial office tower and a hotel tower, across a total built area of 492,084sqm.

DBI Design managing director Warren Coyle said: "Three of the five towers sit on a podium containing a convention centre, a ballroom that can also be used as conferencing space, and retail/gastronomy outlets."

"The buildings' curved shapes are intended to represent billowing sails, referencing Abu Dhabi's history as a port."

The award winning hotel tower, occupied by Jumeirah at Etihad, which comprises 382 hotel rooms and 199 serviced apartments, was named Best Business Hotel for the Middle East and Best Business Hotel Abu Dhabi at the Business Traveller Magazine Awards and earned the title of ‘World’s Leading New Hotel’ in the World Travel Awards earlier this year.

Coyle says that the award recognises DBI’s growing reputation internationally for its cutting-edge architecture.

"These awards are a fantastic endorsement of the quality of the architecture and design coming out of Australia," he said.

“Australian architects are well regarded overseas and modern technology gives us the opportunity to work on large scale iconic international projects from right here in Australia – like the Etihad Towers, which has become an Abu Dhabi landmark.

“For two decades now, about 50 per cent of our business has been off-shore and we are currently working on the architecture of billions of dollars worth of new developments around the world, with projects underway in Australia, China, Taiwan, India, and the UAE.

This is DBI Design's second Emporis award in recent years. The company achieved second place in 2006 for its work on the architecture of The Wave, a luxury residential, retail and commercial development in the heart of Broadbeach.

In Australia, DBI Design is involved in the $1 billion triple-tower Jewel and the redevelopment of Sheraton Mirage, both on the Gold Coast, and a Transited Oriented Development (TOD) The Milton in Brisbane.

The company has also designed the two tallest towers in Brisbane. The 262 metre Infinity tower, which is currently under construction, will boast 546 apartments across 81 levels, while the iconic 73-level Soleil towers, located in Brisbane's CBD, features 462 residential apartments.