The Issam Fares Institute is a new 20,000 square foot Political Science think tank on the American University of Beirut campus. Anmahian Winton Architects in collaboration with Hashim Sarkis Studios was one of five international teams invited to compete for this project.
The triangular site occupies a strategic location between the middle and upper campuses, cantilevering over primary campus paths and encouraging direct access through the site. By removing an existing building and reorienting the approach sequence, the building itself invites pedestrian traffic through its ground floor and activates the lush landscape of the Campus Oval.
Research offices surround a central void on one cantilevered floor that brings light deep into the space. A mature banyan tree grows from the courtyard up through this void, bringing both landscape and daylight into the upper reaches of the building. At the opposite end, the building is firmly anchored to the ground by a core of library, conference, and auditorium spaces.
The building’s skin combines limestone and glass in a horizontal weave. Bands of local stone create shadowing and depth on the glass surface, reducing heat gain and providing visual texture. Light enters the building through horizontal ribbons at eye and at ceiling height, minimizing the sun’s effect and maximizing views.