The Bachelor of Architecture (B. ARCH) at the American University in Dubai was inaugurated in the fall of 2009 and much like Dubai, is young, dynamic, and has achieved considerable milestones over a short period of which NAAB accreditation is at the top. The architecture department along with the Interior Design and the Visual communication departments make up the School of Architecture, Art, and Design (SAAD), which is the only school outside of the USA to have obtained the three primary accreditations (NAAB, CIDA, and NASAD). These accreditations reflect high education standards and quality assurance of SAAD’s programs.
The final thesis document produced in Studio 9 (ARCH 501) explores a thematic response to any area of interest on the part of students. Students spend their entire final year focused on thesis projects spanning two semesters. With some variation depending on the approaches of individual professors, students begin the process of transforming themes into final projects through precedent research, comprehensive analysis of a selected site or sites, development of spatial programs, and finally, the conceptual design of a resulting building. Having initially considered topics in the abstract before embarking on a process of practical application culminates in what at times are newly conceived building typologies, whether or not entirely practical to real-world scenarios. At the conclusion of Studio 10 (ARCH 502), students participate in the annual “Architecture Senior Showcase,” exhibiting and presenting final projects over a two-day period. Students, faculty, parents, outside jurors, and other professionals convene to celebrate the results of five years of creative endeavor.
Dr. Georges Kachaamy, Chair and associate professor of Architecture, commented: “This event is an opportunity for students to present their achievements to renowned architectural firms who attend the showcase in order to recruit young and skilled talents.” The two-day event concludes with an awards ceremony, recognizing the best of the cohort, and serving as a gateway to eventual careers in the field of architecture. On its 10-year anniversary, the department is holding this year the Architecture Senior Showcase and Award ceremony at its campus in Media City, Dubai, on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, at the AUD Knights Arena.
Most architecture graduates are employed locally or regionally in architectural or other related engineering and construction practices. Some pursue further graduate studies and specializations at other prestigious international institutions. The internship is required before graduation and the program advises students on all aspects of architecture licensure and registration in the USA.
The B. ARCH program at AUD prides itself as being innovative and at the forefront of digital design and fabrication technologies. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is core required as is generative design and 3D printing. Rendering and collaboration in the cloud as well as 1:1 immersive virtual reality experiences are commonly used tools in core architecture design studios. Students at AUD graduate highly skilled and ready to join the architectural practice.
Faculty and students are diverse and come from over 100 countries. They continuously publish, exhibit, and win awards and prizes nationally and internationally. The university enjoys key partnerships with other American and European universities facilitating study abroad and exchange programs. AUD also has Memorandums of Understanding with multinational corporations, industry practice organizations, and non-governmental organizations such as the AIA Middle East Chapter.
The studio culture at AUD begins with the idea of “Whole Person Education” in a collaborative environment, and endeavors to be a place where learning, integrity, and tolerance converge to nurture creativity. Students work in groups of 15 in studio sections designed to enhance the benefits of “learning by doing.”
Authors: Alex Albani and David Franklin