The American University in Cairo 2008 - Cairo, Egypt
AUC's master plan of the campus was inspired by the traditional/historical architecture of Cairo. In particular, Moez street. Hence, the spine did not take one straight direction from start to end but rather a spine taking different angles and directions which will enhance the wind movement through the campus. From the spine branches, the schools’ buildings are oriented toward the north all, all having internal courtyards. Creating a series of courtyards along the spine to maximize the flow of air in and out of the buildings. As the AUC vision was to create 100 years’ master plan and perform as a campus that attracts scholars all around the world. Prof. Abdelhalim took the model of the Al-Azhar mosque as an educational institute that has always attracted scholars from different places. Following this vision, the stone was chosen as a durable material for the design following the stone structures of Ancient Egyptians in Aswan and Luxor. The campus has multiple high gates between the different schools as a representation of the high gates in Islamic architecture. AUC adapted the liberal arts educational philosophy, and therefore the architect worked on embodying the philosophy in the physical built space. The architect defined liberal arts as the search for the truth through multiple disciplinarians and not being stuck in one direction. Translating this definition developed the gate/ entrance of the institution topped with a dome. The entrance is quite high as a pride of the intellectual sciences during the Islamic era. The dome was inspired by the dome in Córdoba. The intersection of arches represents the multiple resources, and the dome was lifted open to the sky to create vertical ventilation and to embody the AUC’s philosophy of liberal art education that what one can learn beyond the gate is limitless.