Summer 2004 Vol. II, Nos 3 and 4
 
 From the Editors
 To the Editors
 AUB News
 Campaign Update
 Behold Beirut Architecture’s
 New Frontier
 The Post-AUB Architectural Life
 An Exact Type
 Architecture and Graphic Design
 Students “JAM”
 Shaping the Landscape of Lebanon
 Blueprint in Action
 Commencement 2004
 Honorary Degrees 2004
 Young Lebanese Musicians Learn
 Lessons from the Master
 More than a Stamp of Approval: AUB
 Receives Accreditation
 Alumni Profile
 Alumni Activities
 AUB Reflections
 Class Notes
 In Memoriam
 Credits
 Previous Issues


Blueprint in Action

AUB’s Campus Master Plan is in place and moving forward. While the University may temporarily resemble a construction site over the coming years, the end product will be an enhanced academic and social environment. MainGate updates  you on the process of building the AUB of the future.

A lot has happened since AUB’s Board of Trustees approved the Campus Master Plan (CMP) in March 2002. You have already read about the two international competitions that AUB hosted to select architectural designs for the Charles Hostler Student Center (MainGate, winter 2003) and the new home for the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (MainGate, summer/fall 2003). And then there was the groundbreaking ceremony for the Charles Hostler Student Center that took place in April (MainGate, spring 2004). In short, the whole process is now under way and, by the time it ends, much of the AUB campus will have witnessed a good measure of beneficent change. The paragraphs that follow will give you a flavor of how the Campus Master Plan has been unfolding.

A New Unit on Campus

The Facilities Planning and Design Unit (FPDU) was established to manage all of the construction and rehabilitation projects that are and will be taking place as part of the CMP. The unit has been described by President John Waterbury as “the custodian of the guidelines and hence of the logic of the Campus Master Plan.” As he explained in his recent State of the University speech, the CMP “lays down specific guidelines that cover the choice of building materials, meeting required safety and environmental standards, as well as honoring recommended practices in landscaping, heights and widths of structures, square meters of space for certain functions and so forth. The master plan does not say we have to build a certain building or rehabilitate a certain space; it says if AUB wants to build a specific building or rehabilitate a certain space, it must honor the master plan design guidelines.”

Samer Maamari, FPDU director, and his colleagues are working closely with several university committees (the Campus Master Plan Steering Committee, the Campus Planning Committee, and the Space Committee...), technical advisers, consultants, architects, focus groups, and many others to develop and implement detailed design guidelines for the campus and the AUB Medical Center (AUBMC) area. Although there is growing appreciation on campus for the difficult and critical task that FPDU is undertaking, there is also some frustration. As Professor Jala Makhzoumi, associate professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and technical adviser to the CMP Steering Committee, explains, “FPDU’s long-term vision is not well understood.” Makhzoumi describes FPDU as “the only office that sees everything related to the future development of the campus, buildings, and landscape.” Some people and offices on campus resent the fact that they now have to comply with university-wide guidelines, but this type of integrated and coordinated approach is the best way (some would argue that it is the only way) to both preserve and develop the campus.

Maamari oversees a group of people that includes architects and engineers who have a wide range of skills and backgrounds. Many of these men and women are AUB graduates. “We work as a team,” says Maamari. “We select people for different projects, depending on their particular skills, the needs of the project, and whether a project is in the planning, design, or construction phase.”

FPDU is overseeing the work that is taking place on both the main campus and the medical campus. In addition to the renovation of the north and east wings of the old Out Patient Department (OPD) Building to make room for the expansion of the AUB Medical Center (AUBMC) and provide additional space for private clinics, FPDU is managing the ongoing expansion and upgrading of the emergency rooms. It is also overseeing the design and construction at Building 56 to house the infirmary, the psychiatry unit, the cancer center, the hospital information center, and the nursing dormitory, as well as preparing the old Alumni Building to become the new home for the School of Nursing. Furthermore, FPDU has been charged with developing standardized finishes and color schemes for the hospital in order to strengthen its identity.

Maamari explains that the projects on the medical campus require a different approach and are a “more challenging and demanding environment” in which to work. This is due in part to the fact that medical buildings demand stricter safety requirements and because the medical center serves different clients with different needs.

FPDU is also involved in issues of energy efficiency. Responsiveness to environmental concerns was one of the criteria applied in selecting the winning designs for the Hostler Student Center and the new business school building. For example, Vincent James Associates Architects (VJAA) plans to include skylights and solar collectors on the roofs of some of the larger buildings of the new student center. Energy efficiency is also a factor in deciding on the types of indoor lighting to use, the choice of building materials, and the selection of toilet fixtures.

Souheir Mabsout, assistant director of FPDU, describes the specific ways in which FPDU approaches all buildings. “We are guided by the need to create versatile and flexible spaces that can be used for a variety of purposes going forward. It is critical that the space work for the immediate end user, but it is also our job to make sure that the space is developed in such a way that it can be easily adapted to fill future demands as they emerge.” FPDU is juggling this need to create flexible and versatile space with the equally important need to preserve what is unique about a particular building. The historic classification of buildings will provide FPDU with the information needed to do so.

Making a Historical Record

As Mabsout explains, the historic classification of all the buildings on campus is integral to implementation of the Campus Master Plan. Professor Howayda Al-Harithy, associate professor of architecture and another one of the CMP technical advisers, has proposed that a strategy be developed concerning AUB’s architectural heritage. She argues that in order to develop such a strategy, buildings on campus first have to be surveyed and documented—something that FPDU has already started to do. Through this process, the buildings and their history—what Al-Harithy describes as “the whole architectural narrative of the campus”—will unfold. The second step will be to classify the historic buildings into categories, around which guidelines will be developed that will govern the restoration, adaptive reuse, upgrade, and modification of those buildings. Al-Harithy says, “This is the type of work that students can participate in that will raise awareness of and pride in the history of the campus and its buildings.”

Getting Students Involved

The historic classification of buildings is not just one of the opportunities for students to get involved in the Campus Master Plan and the work of FPDU. For example, when Makhzoumi was asked to landscape the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences courtyard when she joined AUB three years ago, she decided to develop it as a project to be undertaken by a landscape design student. A jury made up of Professor Riad Baalbaki, chair of the Plant Science Department, Associate Professor Salma Talhouk, and Grounds and Transfer Services Manager Anis Abdallah selected Zeina Salam’s design from among twelve submissions. Salam remembers well what she went through to come up with the winning design. “It was so much work, but we all learned a lot. All twelve of the designs were beautiful. I think the whole process forced all of us to be much more creative than we would have been otherwise,” she says. “It was a wonderful learning experience.”

Bassam Komati, now a member of the FPDU team, first got involved with the Campus Master Plan during the design competition for the Charles W. Hostler Student Center a year and a half ago. “What is interesting for me,” explains Komati, “is the unique exposure FPDU provides to projects of various scale, in addition to the subsequent contact with people of different disciplines. Furthermore, I love the collaborative teamwork that is a part of each and every project handled by the FPDU team, regardless of its scale. This creates a dynamic and motivating environment that provides the experience I want, together with the distinctive chance of following FPDU projects from their planning phase to the design phase and finally to the construction phase.” Komati will be taking this experience with him when he leaves AUB and FPDU this summer to do graduate work at Harvard University.

In addition to creating opportunities for students like Salam and Komati to participate in the Campus Master Plan, FPDU has also co-sponsored with the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture a number of lectures for the university community. For example, Hillary Brown, one of the Charles Hostler Student Center design jury members, gave a talk on “green” (or environmental) building practices; and most recently, Matthias Schuler, the energy consultant who is working with VJAA on the design of the Charles Hostler Student Center, spoke about sustainability, physics, and architecture.

Importance of Landscaping

Although much of the attention so far has been on the new student center and business school projects, the CMP includes much more. There is, for instance, the “middle campus”—that wonderful green stretch that runs through the middle of the campus.

Makhzoumi still laughs when she remembers how she was told, “You don’t have to worry about the middle campus. It’s fine. Just leave it the way it is.” She explains that although the Campus Master Plan provided directives for the protection of the middle campus from construction, intensive use, and abuse, it did not propose a future vision for the middle campus landscape. Professors Makhzoumi and Talhouk have proposed a future vision for the middle campus landscape, in which they envision it serving as a botanical garden that will promote an ecological landscape and favor the inclusion of native plant species.

Working with several graduate students, Makhzoumi has completed a survey of the trees that make up the middle campus. “We need to know what’s there—what makes up this beauty that we all enjoy so much,” she explains. The middle campus includes not just trees and other greenery, but a series of stairs and stone terrace walls. It also includes a sizeable collection of utility pipes that has spread throughout the middle campus over the years and, to quote from the report, “detracts considerably from the quality of the landscape.” The CMP Steering Committee has adopted Makhzoumi’s recommendations.

The Charles Hostler Student Center

To get a sense of how FPDU works, MainGate sat in on some of the meetings recently held at AUB to coordinate the development of the Charles Hostler Student Center and the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business. The two projects will come together just to the west and east of the Green Field along the Corniche. FPDU arranged the coordination meetings that took place in late February to give the two winning design firms (VJAA and Machado and Silvetti) a chance to talk about issues related to landscape design, infrastructure, shared utilities, and materials and finishes. Much of the discussion focused on the rehabilitation of the existing wall along the Corniche—how much of it can and should be changed, and in what way. In addition, they conferred on how the Green Field track would be expanded and what impact that would have on the outer edge of the new School of Business. Which trees can be preserved? What kind of outdoor lighting should be used throughout the Hostler Center? Should the area around the new business school be lit in the same way?

In addition to representatives from the two design firms and FPDU, a number of consultants and technical advisers took part in the meetings. The technical advisers are AUB faculty members with expertise in relevant areas, who have been enlisted to serve as consultants to FPDU and the CMP. In addition to Al-Harithy, Makhzoumi, and Talhouk, the group includes Assem Abdul Malak, Nesreen Ghaddar, Zeina Maasri, and—until he left AUB this past summer—Marwan Ghandour. As Maamari remarks, “If these individuals were not on our faculty, we would have had to go outside to find them. We are fortunate to have in-house talent like this to advise us.”


 

New School of Business

While the new Hostler Student Center is the single largest project envisaged as part of the Campus Master Plan, there are several other big projects being managed at the moment. Second in size and of major academic importance is the new School of Business. Since May 2003, when the international competition for its design was completed, FPDU has been busy bringing together representatives of Machado and Silvetti (the winning firm) and the project’s end user group to work on finalizing the school’s academic program. Dean George Najjar, of course, has been an active participant in all these meetings. “The Olayan School of Business team has been working very closely with the designers from the outset to ensure an end-user perspective that will serve the educational objectives of the Olayan School and contribute to creating the kind of vibrant learning environment commensurate with the ambitions of AUB's newest faculty. Educational specifications, including delivery modalities, have been carefully worked out to reflect the very latest ideas in business education,” Najjar says.

New Home for Nursing

At the same time, FPDU is also engaged in coordinating the design development process for the new School of Nursing. After many years of being located in Dale Home, the nursing school will be moving to the former Alumni Association Building, whose interior is now being redesigned to transform it into a first-rate nursing education facility. The new school will include a simulation lab, computer facilities, student classrooms, and faculty offices. The building will also house a center for nursing research with facilities for graduate students and research assistants, a center for continuing nursing education, and a library.

“The new building has been a long awaited dream for us,” says Dr. Huda Abu-Saad Huijer, director of the School of Nursing. “It will give faculty and students a home where creative and scholarly teaching and learning will take place. It will also provide cutting-edge simulation and research labs where skills are learned and mastered to provide the highest quality nursing care.” Huijer adds, “The new building signifies a commitment from AUB to the School of Nursing and its academic programs.

I am hopeful that the opening of the new building will coincide with our centennial conference celebrations.”

Irani Engineering Laboratory Complex

FPDU is also involved in projects of concern to the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, which has been working for the past year to evaluate its programs and existing facilities with the help of an outside consultant. At a committee meeting chaired by Dean Ibrahim Hajj, which included the faculty’s various department heads and members of FPDU, the consultant’s recommendations were reviewed to determine the faculty’s future needs for office and laboratory space. In order to verify FEA’s programmatic needs, FPDU consulted with Research Facilities Design (RFD), a firm that specializes in the programming and design of teaching and research laboratory facilities. 

In addition to planning a new laboratory complex that will include labs, offices, and classrooms, there is also major renovation work planned for FEA’s Bechtel Building, in part to accommodate the new lower campus library that will eventually occupy the first two floors of that building. Before work can begin there, however, FPDU has to identify space that can be used to accommodate the functions that are currently in the Bechtel Building and in Wings B and C stated for demolition.

This is probably one of the most challenging aspects of the Campus Master Plan: the game of musical chairs (what the technical people call “decanting”) that will remain part of university life for some years to come. Although FPDU is trying to schedule work so that much of it can take place during the quieter summer months, this is not always possible. Moreover, the scope and extent of the work that is planned simply cannot be contained during the summer months. Even if this were possible, many AUB students take courses during the summer and the University’s administrative offices need to be able to function throughout the year.

The game of musical chairs has already begun. The west wing of the old OPD Building, which will eventually house the private clinics, has been renovated to create temporary offices and classrooms for the business school. Although many AUB offices and departments will be relocated at some point or another during the next twenty years, the change that has affected the greatest number of people so far is the introduction of new rules affecting vehicular access to campus. It is no longer possible to enter AUB through the Sea Parking Gate and exit via the Medical Gate. The goal is to move eventually to a situation where the only vehicles allowed on campus will be for service, the handicapped, or for emergencies.

Unavoidably, there will be short-term disruptions and inconveniences throughout the implementation of the Campus Master Plan. But the long-term gains that are sure to follow on the heels of disruption will be many: new and much improved facilities, a plan to preserve and develop the middle campus, and a system for maintaining and adequately allocating AUB’s facilities for years to come.