New Student Center at Beirut's American University Wins Top Architectural Green Award

UAB Campus aerial viewBeirut and other cities in Lebanon may still be recovering from the 2006 with Israel; but this has not prevented the construction of a new green complex at the American University of Beirut.

The complex, named the Charles Hostler Student Center, was the only college building to be listed on the prestigious American Institute of Architects Top Ten Green Projects list for the year 2009.

The complex contains a number of cultural and recreational facilities including a green track field, amphitheater and auditorium, gymnasium and fitness room, indoor swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, and student union area for students to meet between or after classes.

The student meeting area includes a spacious cafeteria.

 What is unique about the 204,000 sq ft facility is that the electricity needed to power the complex is being furnished mainly by solar panels for generating electricity.

The center also has a special air chilling system that was installed to assure that the campus facility will be able to be adequately cooled. These systems are particularly important due to problems with the country’s national electricity grid (another victim of the 2006 war), causing frequent blackouts in the capital.

In order to insure sustainability, the facility also has its own supply of fresh water, which includes special collectors for collecting rain water during the winter months.

 The design of the facility, which indigenous landscaping that requires less water, was honored for being able to combine contemporary modern technologies with a Mediterranean styling that is in harmony with the surrounding environment.

A project overview of the center notes the following: “Daily human migration throughout the urban environment allows social activities to ‘condense’ at various locations as spaces are exploited for their microclimates—sun or shade, thermal mass with radiant surfaces, and natural ventilation”.

The specially designed student center is a welcome addition to a university campus that has always tried to preserve an atmosphere of normalcy in an often less-than -normal environment.

 In addition to all the noted features of the center, there is also underground parking for up to 200 cars. The project was designed by the VJAA Company of Minneapolis Minn., USA.

We’ve written about the green advances of the Beirut University before. See AUB Fights for Sustainable Research.

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