Program: A new campus for Université Saint-Joseph on Damascus Road, one of Beirut's main thoroughfares. The project—one of the university's several campuses in the city—includes an economics and medical research building, a medical clinic, a physical therapy building, two office buildings, and a large public center with an auditorium, exhibition spaces, athletic courts, and a pool. The six-story structures, with a combined 645,834 square feet, are arranged around a central courtyard.
Design concept and solution: Beirut's building regulations lack requirements for creating public areas or plazas, for shaping the urban experience in a way that makes a city a city rather than a series of independently constructed buildings. Working with 109architectes, the Y.TOHME team set up different spatial relationships between the campus and the city and among the campus buildings themselves. The architects treated the six buildings as a single mass carved up by a central void, which became the public plaza. They emphasized the idea of mass by concealing the buildings' concrete structures within white perforated concrete envelopes (save the large public building, whose steel structure is buried within a white polycarbonate facade). The masses recall traditional Lebanese modernist boxes but with a contemporary twist: the exterior walls are often tilted, angled, slightly off kilter, giving the campus a sense of unstable equilibrium. To further extend the complex's public space, the architects expanded the plaza up to the rooftops: a wide concrete outdoor staircase with entrances to every floor leads to the top of the economics and medical research building. Concrete bridges connecting all six roofs bring visitors through a series of gardens and sitting areas to the pool and a cafeteria enclosed in a polycarbonate shell.
Owner: Université Saint-Joseph
In collaboration with
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Metal/glass curtainwall: Glassline Industries
Concrete: Entreprise Andre Hakime
Metal: Entreprise Andre Hakime
Aluminum: Glassline Industries
Metal doors: Fitzpatrik
Fire-control doors, security grilles: Fitzpatrik
Paints and stains: Entreprise Andre Hakime
Special surfacing: Rosin Entreprise
Floor and wall tile: Entreprise Andre Hakime
Resilient flooring: Entreprise Andre Hakime
Raised flooring: Profilor