Yesterday, after a very long flight, we arrived to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, one of the most important cities in the region. Why? We are attending the opening of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, an international, graduate-level research institution. The mission if this academic institution is to dedicated to advancing science and technology of regional and global impact, with a fellowship program that provides full tuition to graduate students pursuing the M.S., M.S. to Ph.D., or Ph.D. degrees (more info here).
The University is located on a new campus designed by HOK, 80km north of Jeddah (aerial view of the site). The campus is part of a larger master plan, also designed by HOK: A new town of 10,000 to 12,000 people, surrounding and supporting the University, living in over 6.5 million sqf on a 3,200 acre site along the Red Sea.
The project started in fall 2006, and it was finished in just 3 years. To achieve this, the HOK Planning Group accelerated the process with a “Racing the Sun” design charrette in which planners from 10 offices across multiple time zones contributed to the plan over one 24-hour period. Each HOK office had a two-hour window to create its ideas and post them on a server. In the end, each contributed an idea that ultimately found its way into the final plan.
From what we have read and heard about the project, there is a lot to see in terms of sustainable planning/design for an extreme climate, along with a new approach to protect the fragile coastal ecosystem, away from the landfill strategies we have seen on Jeddah’s coast, including a coral-reef ecosystem preserved for use as a marine sanctuary and research area.
So tomorrow we are going to visit the campus, with our cameras ready to show you how this project has been materialized. We also plan to interview a design partner from HOK to get more details about this project.
You can see more renderings, images of the construction process, completed parts of the campus and also details on the construction of the Breakwater Beacon, a landmark for the project, at the end of the article. Expect updates on the KAUST campus in the next days.
We are also going to try to show you more about the city, which so far has been only traditional architecture in housing, with some western influences on retail projects, and lots of sculptures in public spaces (Calder, Miró for example). If you have arch-tips in the area, please leave them on the comments.
KAUST nearing completion