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AUS unveils award winning design/build project
American University of Sharjah (AUS) unveiled its award-winning design/build project at its College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) during an opening ceremony held yesterday, November 27. The Tarkeeb Studio's CAAD Display Wall and Community Table was primarily designed and constructed by architecture students in their final year and integrates a table, seating, and display areas at the side entryway of the college. The event also recognized the contribution of the GIBCA group towards the project.
During the opening ceremony, AUS Chancellor Dr. Björn Kjerfve welcomed the guests and thanked Sheikh Sultan bin Saqer bin Sultan Al Qassimi and Sheikh Saqer K. Al Qassimi for GIBCA's contributions to the Tarkeeb Wall project. Various companies in the GIBCA group donated an estimated AED 250,000 worth of goods and services. "We are grateful for GIBCA's generous support towards this project. At AUS, we are committed to providing our students with theoretical and practical instruction. This can only be done when we have strong partnerships with corporate entities such as GIBCA," said the chancellor.
Speaking on the occasion, Sheikh Saqer K. Al Qassimi, Corporate Development Director at GIBCA, said "On behalf of GIBCA Group, we are very proud to have partnered with the AUS College of Architecture, Art and Design for the development of the Tarkeeb Project. We would like to extend our warm congratulations to all the faculty and staff involved in the completion of this stunning display, as well as all the students who spent long after-hours before the design finally came to reality. We truly hope this will impress all those who witness the project for the first time; and moreover stand as an expression for creativity, ability and commitment for many years to come.
The Tarkeeb Wall is an interior/exterior, design/build renovation that includes the integration of a display wall, interior seating, exterior display vitrine and an exterior community table providing display and communal space for the college. The project combines a family of functions into a hybrid structure defining the side entry to the college and providing a much-needed exterior study and gathering place.
Dr. Varkki Pallathucheril, Dean of CAAD, said that the display wall and community table has had a dramatic impact on how that part of the CAAD building is experienced. He said that the award-winning project represented two years of toil by Bill Sarnecky, Associate Professor of Architecture and Instructor of the Tarkeeb design/build studio, and several cohorts of his students. Dr. Pallathucheril stressed that the project had not only left a mark on the environment but that it had also left a mark on the students who learned and will continue to learn from it. "This approach to design learning is a distinguishing feature of our programs and we are justifiably proud of it. This outcome would not have been possible without the unquestioning support of the GIBCA group of companies for which we are deeply grateful," he added.
According to Sarnecky, the last 20 years had seen the emergence of design/build as an integral part of architecture school curricula in the United States and around the world. He said that in the typical architectural design program, students designed a hypothetical project in a studio course and these projects usually lacked real-world constraints like budgets, clients and regulations. "Design/build projects, on the other hand, present real-world problems to the students, asking them to both design and construct a solution. This approach to design education is one manifestation of the teaching philosophy of 'learning by doing,'" he said.
The Tarkeeb Wall has already won two professional awards; the AIA Middle East Merit Award for Unbuilt Work, in which it was competing against professional firms from around the MENA region and the AIA Middle East Design Excellence Award for a Student Graduating Project.
Layth Mahdi, now an alumnus pursuing his masters at the University of Michigan, worked for two years with Sarnecky to help complete the project. According to him, "The design/build methodology is now an essential part of the architecture education at AUS and has added a real and tangible dimension to the architecture school. The Tarkeeb Wall project introduced me to a different approach of architecture which is learning by making. I believe that architects are not only designers but also makers and highly recommend that design/ build teaching methodology should be an indispensable part of any architectural curriculum to introduce every student to a range of fabrication techniques."
Some of the students continued to assist in the construction after they graduated and two additional seminar courses also contributed to the design of the community table. The CAAD students, now alumni, who were key in the creation of the wall included Layth Mahdi, Ali Ahmed, Noor Al Awar, Bahar Al Bahar, Fatima Al Zaabi, Reyan Hanafi and Tayo Odulana.