From the Editors of MainGate
AUB and Beirut Rising
One of the most striking
features of Beirut today is the reconstruction of the city. Renowned architects from around the world, as
well as those of Lebanon, are participating in this unique citywide “renovation.” From the center of town and the hip
neighborhood of Gemmayzeh to the outlying high-rise buildings and shopping
centers —now linked with a network of new roads—the city landscape has been
rapidly changing. This has ushered in a
lively debate about the notions of public space and the quality of urban life.
The leading question is how to preserve Beirut’s rich architectural heritage against the onslaught of
new hotels, corporate buildings, houses of worship, and shopping malls designed
to represent Beirut as a 21st-century city? While some traditionalists may
abhor the new-age constructions, others view the transformation as the best
thing that has happened to Beirut. All, however, agree it is a dynamic time to
be living in Beirut.
Architecture as a discipline
is rather compelling. The combination of
precise design, understanding of engineering and construction, and careful
consideration of the functionality and lifestyle it involves make it a most
fascinating and demanding field of endeavor.
One need only look at the high-scale projects around the world, such as
the projected rebuilding of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, or Frank
Gehry’s controversial Guggenheim Bilboa Museum in Spain, or the recently
completed Millennium Park in Chicago, to see how profoundly modern architecture
and urban planning impact and redefine daily life.
Inspired by the high
creativity and interest in the city’s architectural future as revealed by the
students at their annual “JAM” design exhibition, we saw it fitting to focus in
this issue on the various facets of AUB’s architectural program. And for a change of pace, we decided to take
MainGate beyond the campus to explore the changing architecture of
Beirut. Along the way,
we met some of the alumni responsible for some of the striking structures—many
restored and a good number new—that have been giving the city its new and
exciting hybrid image. And then we thought: what is architecture without a
carefully constructed and aesthetic landscape?
So, we felt it an ideal occasion to introduce you to the University’s
Landscape Design and Eco-Management Program, where students are learning how to
create beautiful organic and sustainable landscapes. AUB’s designs for its future campus are in
motion, as well, as you will read in our update report on the Campus Master
We cannot end this letter
without noting that in June AUB received its educational accreditation from the
Middle States Commission on Higher Education, after five years of concentrated
effort on the part of all constituencies of the AUB community. Yes, there has been much rejoicing—and a
renewed sense of pride in knowing that the stamp of approval is official. The
rest of the world now knows what we have known all along—that the
American University of Beirut is
a superb, first-rate institution of higher learning.
Ibrahim Khoury and Lynn
AUB Wants to Hear from You!
Send us your news and opinions.
With AUBites scattered all around the world, it can be hard to stay
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welcomed a new baby? Received any professional awards or honors?
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of your classmates have probably been wondering what you have been
up to for years.
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Class notes and comments can be sent
by e-mail to email@example.com
Or by regular mail to:
American University of Beirut
Attn: Office of Information and Public Relations
P.O. Box 11-0236
Riad El Solh, Beirut 1107 2020
American University of Beirut
Office of Communications
850 Third Avenue, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10022