Carnegie Mellon University in Doha, Qatar
Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, founded in 2004, is a branch campus of Carnegie Mellon University, located in Doha, Qatar. It is Carnegie Mellon’s first undergraduate branch campus. Carnegie Mellon Qatar is part of Education City, a sprawling campus on the outskirts of Doha that currently houses six American branch campuses. Each of these universities was selected by the Qatar Foundation to offer one or two degree programs for which is it renowned. Carnegie Mellon Qatar offers degrees in Computer Science, Business Administration, and Information Systems. Carnegie Mellon Qatar currently has approximately 200 students, 30 faculty and 90 staff. Its inaugural class graduated in May of 2008. In August 2008, Carnegie Mellon Qatar moved into a new building, specifically designed for it by architects Legoretta + Legoretta.
Weill Cornell Medical College – Doha, Qatar
The designer, renowned Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, has created buildings across the world from Japan to Los Angeles and Barcelona.
This new design is a bold combination of the contemporary and the traditional, with influences from Islamic art and the old buildings of the Arabian Gulf. It also presents the engineers and contractors with significant logistical and construction challenges.
Just two stories high, the new Medical College building fits harmoniously with other structures on the 350-acre Education City site, just outside Doha. On the face of it, it is also a simple two-wing building with connecting bridges at second-floor level. Where it departs from the norm, however, is in the artistic inspiration behind the lecture halls.
Nestling between the protective wings of the College, the four halls stand in a row: two ovoids, one 12-sided, and one 20-sided structure rise above ground level on stilts, creating a stunning vista down the central courtyard.
Right now, they are truly eye-catching. Partially clad in an under-skin of galvanized steel laid over a metal skeleton, the ovoids reflect the winter sun beneath a bright blue sky. Closer inspection of the other halls shows how the next layer, a 7.5 cm thick coating of concrete, is sprayed over the steel sheets. The whole will be finished with plaster and then painted, giving a softer effect than the gleaming metal we see now.
Nothing like this has ever been done before, says Ron Brooke, Construction Manager with KEO International Consultants, the company overseeing the building process: “It is certainly challenging: there is no relevant experience for construction of these ovoid structures that we have found.”
The College has about 33,000 square meters (355,200 square feet) of enclosed space over the two floors. 48,000 cubic meters of concrete are required in its construction, equivalent to a 60-story high–rise. The north wing accommodates extensive teaching space over both floors, with provision for supporting services. The south wing houses the administration, faculty offices and research laboratories.
“It’s a simple structural building from an engineering point of view. The biggest challenge is incorporating the architectural finishes, particularly because it has a double wall system and a double roof, for insulation purposes,” says Mr. Brooke, a seasoned engineer with experience of the Sydney Olympic projects.
The double walls and roof enclose and protect essential services and equipment, and enhance energy efficiency. The outer walls, with their decorative white panels, are designed to take most of the heat load, an important factor in a country where daytime temperatures in summer rise well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The first panels are now fitted on the west end, and the sun catches their subtle geometric pattern, echoing both traditional Islamic art and the shapes of the College auditoria. The panels also bring to mind the carved gypsum work used in Gulf architecture in the past.
With 1,800 people working on the project and construction going on 24 hours a day, six days a week with reduced hours on Fridays, the speed with which the College is being built is a tribute to the dedication of the team – and an achievement in itself.