Issam Fares Institute for International Policy Studies

The Issam Fares Institute for International Policy Studies (IFI) is a relatively small building that could have significant impact on the American University of Beirut campus. The project addresses the potential of this larger impact as an integral part of developing a new prototype for a self-contained think tank within an open-university context.

The triangular site occupies a strategic location between the middle campus and the upper-campus. However, it is currently bypassed by pedestrian traffic leaving its lush landscape relatively underutilized. The removal of the Gulbenkian Building and the reorganization of the site allow for direct physical connections between the lower and upper campuses through the building, aiding the activation of the Green Oval and the redirection of through-traffic away from the Nicely Hall classrooms.

The architecture of the IFI elaborates on the juxtapositions of landscape and building and of university and institution. It takes the basic oppositions such as open/closed, solid/void, and suspended/ anchored to generate the layouts of the exterior volume and the interior spaces.

These oppositions are then moderated with varying degrees of enclosure for the spaces and varying degrees of transparency in the skin. The resulting gradations forgo continuities between the campus planning, landscape, and architectural aspects of the project leading to a form that is at once dynamic and well poised. The architecture supports the IFI program by proposing a new paradigm for the think tank. The building transforms a potential conflict into opportunities for a vibrant interface between the life of the campus and the function of the institute.


PROJECT TEAM: Hashim Sarkis, Michael Beaman, Bassam Komati, Scott Melancon, Michael Kubo
ANMAHIAN WINTON ARCHITECTS PROJECT TEAM: Alex Anmahian, Makoto Abe, Aaron Stavert, Sydney Schremser, John Paul Dunn, Todd Theil