To date, KAUST is the largest LEED NC-Platinum project ever built and was done so at a rapid pace. The design team was tasked with building a contemporary work of architecture that would resonate with the global scientific community while being firmly rooted in local Saudi culture as well as using minimal energy and being highly sustainable. To combat the hot, desert climate, HOK incorporated a number of traditional architectural techniques.
First the campus is compressed like older Arabic cities to minimize the amount of exterior envelope exposed to the sun and reduce outdoor walking distances. Then a large roof spans across the entire block providing shade to the buildings and pedestrian spaces below, while still allowing in natural daylight and encouraging ventilation. The roof is covered in photovoltaic panels for energy generation and large solar-powered wind towers harness energy from the sun and wind to passively create air flow in pedestrian walkways. Lastly, mashrabiya screens shade windows to reduce heat loads.