This interview was first published in November, 2011
Opened late 2009, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, has come to be Saudi Arabia’s first LEED certified project and the world’s largest LEED Platinum project. Designed by HOK, the university is a super sustainable learning institution dedicated to advancing science and technology with a fellowship program that provides full tuition to both male and female graduate and doctorate students. The campus was designed as part of a larger master plan (also designed by HOK) to support a new town of 12,000 people living in over 6.5 million sqf on a 3,200 acre space along the Red Sea. Sited in an environment facing extraordinary challenges, including an extremely hot, humid climate, HOK was asked to create a low-energy, sustainable project that would also provide the necessary facilities to support cutting edge research and education, and a comfortable place to live. What resulted was a spectacular campus, that while modern in design, also draws deeply upon the traditional architecture of Saudi Arabia to minimize its energy needs. Structured like a traditional Arabic city, the campus is compressed to minimize the amount of exterior envelope exposed to the sun and reduce outdoor walking distances. The project also utilizes everything from passively cooled circulation thoroughfares, solar towers, traditional Arabic ‘mashrabiya‘ screens, water reclamation able to capture 100% of the wastewater, and more. We recently sat down with HOK’s Bill Odell, architect and Director of HOK’s Science & Technology group, to talk about the design of KAUST. Read on for Bill’s fascinating story on how he and his global team at HOK were able to construct this top-notch, high-tech institution, and how the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) helped them turn out the world’s biggest sustainable project in just 28 months.
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