AKHER KALAM Dalia Saad '96, '00 recounts her memories of the downtown campus and looks forward to new experiences at the New Cairo Campus
AUC’s New Cairo Campus is built around design themes that combine a local architectural spirit with a unique urban character
Behind the Blueprints
Photos by Ahmad El-Nemr and Omar Mohsen
With so much being said about what the New Cairo Campus facilities have to offer, the project that has occupied AUC for a decade can seem overwhelming. Behind the bustle of opening a new campus, however, is an elegantly simple design concept. The campus is divided into three smaller campuses –– lower, middle and upper –– each fulfilling a specific need.
The lower campus is open to the public and is AUC’s face to the community. It is designed to invite the local community to participate in the life of the university through performance venues, parks, meeting spaces and the AUC bookstore.
The middle campus is the academic core of the campus. With all of the schools and research centers in one area to allow for consultation, intellectual exchange and academic excellence, it also includes the Library and Administration Building.
The upper campus recognizes the needs of contemporary students to collaborate, socialize and multitask by providing an area full of lecture halls, meeting areas, residences and sports facilities. The student life area also brings recreation and relaxation to a student’s daily routine.
Visitors are greeted with a cascade of red-brick steps flanked by palm groves. This is the Paul and Charlotte Corddry Park, an area housing numerous terraces and shaded areas populated by trees bred and grown at AUC’s own Desert Development Center. Within the park is the public amphitheater that hosts cultural events and is large enough to hold 300 people.
Prospective students and parents will have all of their questions answered at the Dr. Hamza Al Kholi Information Center, a single-stop resource for anyone interested in learning more about the university, the campus and its students. The public is welcome to visit the Dr. and Mrs. Elias Hebeka Bookstore, one of three AUC Press bookstores. The bookstore is adjoined by an outdoor coffee kiosk.
Nearby is the Performing and Visual Arts Center, home to art, music and film studios, and art galleries, including the Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al-Qassimi Art Gallery. It also encompasses the Gerhart Theatre (a black-box theater) and the Malak Gabr Arts Theatre.
Beyond the park is the AUC Portal, designed after the iconic arch of the downtown campus. Passing through the portal, visitors enter the middle campus, which houses the Research Center and Administration Building, the three academic schools, the Hatem and Janet Mostafa Core Academic Center, as well as the AUC Library.
The Research Center stands adjacent to the AUC Portal, overlooking the main walkway and university garden. This three-story complex houses AUC’s academic and research centers and institutes.
Across from the Research Center is the beginning of the Alumni Wall, which runs all the way through to the upper part of the campus.
The Administration Building houses the president’s and provost’s offices, alumni office and other administrative offices. Across from it is the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Hall, which houses the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Courtyards in the hall create comfortable outdoor gathering places and share the hollow square-building design repeated across the campus on different scales. The design allows as much natural light and air as possible into offices, classrooms and labs.
Despite being one and a half times the size of a football field, the Bartlett Plaza is designed like a scattering of intimate rooms cooled by fountains, stone cladding and water gardens. The meeting area is organized around this plaza, which is the principal outdoor location for large events such as commencement.
By providing all freshmen core courses in a single venue, the Hatem and Janet Mostafa Core Academic Center helps unify the freshman class and provide a cohesive academic experience. Inside this fully equipped building is the largest lecture hall on campus, the Mansour Group Lecture Hall. Seating 225, this hall caters primarily to Core Curriculum students, but also hosts guest lecturers.
The School of Sciences and Engineering is the largest of the three schools and is home to 145 laboratories outfitted with a special ventilation system and cutting-edge lab equipment. The school also incorporates two research centers.
The AUC Library is a centerpiece both for its architectural brilliance and innovative functionality. The large mashrabeya-style structure on the eastern façade elegantly limits the amount of direct sunlight entering the building. Inside, the five floors allow fluidity for multitasking by offering reading rooms, computer labs, a coffee shop and quiet study areas. The library has space for more than 700,000 volumes and periodicals, 22,000 e-books and 84 databases.
Across from the Library is Abdul Latif Jameel Hall, which houses the School of Business, Economics and Communication. The building is also home to the new Institute of Executive Education and the Heikal Department of Management.
The middle campus is organized around AUC Avenue, a pedestrian walkway that runs under flyovers and through open courtyards.
At the Campus Center, students will find a bookstore, gift shop, travel office and main dining room. In addition, this building hosts the Student Union, off-campus studies department and the Americana Food Court. An area for gathering, organizing and relaxing, the Campus Center has several meeting places, including the Mohamed Shafik Gabr Lecture Hall, a room that accommodates 150 people. Located inside the Campus Center, the large Bassily Auditorium seats 1,400, while the Moataz Al-Alfi Hall seats 200. Equivalent to Ewart and Oriental halls respectively, these halls will host a myriad of cultural events and lectures.
Architect Ricardo Legorreta, who also designed the Campus Center, has brought influences from his native Mexico to design the boldly colored student residences. Nestled among palm groves, gardens and small courtyards, the residences create a private space that also encourages community building among students.
The indoor sports facility offers gymnasiums, an indoor jogging track, squash courts, training and martial arts rooms, and exercise equipment. Within these facilities, the ARTOC Central Athletic Court will draw recreational and professional sports events and initiatives. This 1,396-square-meter multi-purpose court can accommodate up to 2,000 fans. Outside, the campus is equipped with the Olympic-size Paul B. Hannon Swimming Pool, the Khalaf Ahmed Al Habtoor Football and Track Field that can seat up to 2,000 spectators, the Ahmed Galal Ismail Basketball Court, as well as tennis courts and a soccer field. Besides supporting extracurricular and university team events, the sports complex will be able to host national and international tournaments.
The 30-meter-high Mobinil Tower overlooks the sports complex and serves as a navigational reference point for the entire campus, while providing a birds-eye-view of sporting events. The tower is also a wind catcher, naturally providing sustainable and healthy cooling and ventilation for the sports facilities below.