subscribe
free e-newsletter free e-newsletter
product info
advertise
FAQ
SUBSCRIBE TODAY
for premium web access
comment

Libya Opens the Door to American Architects

October 14, 2008

By Tim McKeough

RMJM’s Global Education Studio (GES) is designing master plans for two separate university campuses in Libya—making it the first American architecture office to work in the North African country since the U.S. lifted sanctions against it in 2004. While RMJM is based in the United Kingdom, its Global Education Studio is headquartered in Princeton, New Jersey.

two university campuses in Libya
two university campuses in Libya
Image courtesy RMJM Global Education Studio
RMJM’s Global Education Studio, based in New Jersey, is designing master plans for two university campuses in Libya—making it the first American architecture office to work in the North African country since the U.S. lifted sanctions against it in 2004. The first project is a new 123-acre satellite branch (top, above) of the 7th October University, in the city of Bani Walid.
Rate this project:
Based on what you have seen and read about this project, how would you grade it? Use the stars below to indicate your assessment, five stars being the highest rating.
----- Advertising -----

Both university projects are being funded by the Organisation for the Development of Administrative Centres (ODAC), an arm of the Libyan government that is spending $35 billion to improve the nation’s infrastructure, diversify its economy, and generally enhance its quality of life. At 675,000 square miles, Libya is about three times the size of France.

The first GES project is a new 123-acre satellite branch of the 7th October University, in the city of Bani Walid, located in a semi-desert region in the northwestern part of the country. The project calls for new buildings totaling 1.8 million square feet, including academic and athletic facilities, a student center, a library, and a mosque. The core of the plan is a quad composed of sunken, shaded courtyards surrounded by densely arranged “shard-like” buildings that house different academic programs.

In designing the plan, the architects first looked to the landscape. While sand dunes cover much of eastern Libya—the Libyan Desert is one of the most arid places on earth—Bani Walid is dotted with scrub vegetation. “Still, the climate is pretty extreme,” explains Gordon Hood, GES director. “We were looking for a response that was both an environmental response to that climate as well as a cultural response.” Hood says inspiration came from two key sources: the ancient oasis town of Ghadames, Libya, whose enclosed courtyards and tightly clustered buildings are “all about how to deal with sun, shade, and wind”; and the crystalline form of the desert rose, which is common in the area. “We blended these two ideas together to organize a highly functional program,” Hood says.

In total, the new branch is expected to serve about 3,200 students. The master plan has received all necessary approvals, and construction is expected to begin in 2009, with a campus opening planned for 2010. The firm also is designing all of the buildings.

Following the approval of the Bani Walid master plan, the ODAC asked the studio to develop a master plan for a 222-acre branch of Al Asmariya University, to be located near Zliten, a small town on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Design work is just beginning, but the campus likely will serve about 4,600 students. RMJM expects construction to start in about a year and be completed within three years.

share: more »

 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.

----- Advertising -----
----- Advertising -----
McGraw-Hill Construction

Search Sweets

Example: Building Products, CAD, BIM, Catalogs
Search
Reader Feedback
Most Commented Most Recommended
Rankings reflect comments made in the past 14 days
Rankings reflect comments made in the past 14 days