The studio will focus on designing educational buildings such as universities, vocational colleges and schools. Governments throughout this region are investing heavily in education to better compete in the international marketplace and to realise the potential of their large and growing younger generation. For example, the UAE devotes 25% of total federal government spending to education and, in Libya, the government is currently funding 27 new universities.
RMJM has already achieved regional success for the design of education buildings dating back to the 1970s, including projects in Turkey, Nigeria, Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Doha and Dubai. It is currently working on two universities in Libya, one of which (the Zliten Campus at Al-Asmariya University) recently picked up the Cityscape Dubai 2009 Islamic Architecture Award. However, this is the first time the company has set up a dedicated education studio based in the Dubai office to service the MENA region.
The studio in Dubai comprises a team of experts in education design from different parts of the RMJM international network and is headed up by Luis Vildostegui, formerly based in the company’s Princeton office in New Jersey, USA and Nick Cordingley, from Cambridge in the UK. Collectively the team has worked on some of the most prestigious educational establishments in the world amongst these Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell and Duke Universities as well as leading international and preparatory schools throughout the globe including The Lawrenceville School, American International School of Doha, Qatar, and Bilkent University Prep School in Turkey. It will also draw upon other education experts from throughout RMJM, which consists of 16 offices worldwide.
RMJM has received many awards for its education projects in recognition of its understanding of local culture and traditions whilst also having the ability to pool together the greatest talents from across its international network.
The new Dubai studio serving the Middle East and North African region completes the worldwide presence of the Global Education Studio, with existing bases in Princeton, USA serving the Americas; Hong Kong serving Asia; and Cambridge in the UK serving Europe.
Luis Vildostegui, RMJM Associate Principal and recently appointed Regional Director Global Education, Middle East, North Africa, said:
“The design of education facilities has been at the heart of RMJM’s activities since the firm’s creation in 1956. Unlike many international firms that fly expertise in for brief meetings and then promptly disappear again until the next meeting, RMJM believes in forming collaborative relationships our clients and this requires face time, rolling up our sleeves together and living through the project process alongside our clients. RMJM has been delivering great architecture in this the Middle East and North African region for nearly 40 years and this allows us to expand our role to deliver inspirational learning environments as well.”
Vildostegui continued, “Basing our team of top education design experts here has afforded us greater exposure to the wisdom, subtleties and extraordinary richness of regional cultures, and I believe that this is evident in the quality of the studio’s work. Creating the next generation of great academic institutions, Middle East nations must draw inspiration from the local culture, tradition, climate, and landscape, and not rely on the typology or iconography of the world’s renowned universities.”
The launch of the new Global Education Studio follows the company’s recently announced intention to streamline the business in the challenging economic climate by focusing on areas which are subject to significant government investment. Its other recently formed global studios focus on health, science, transportation infrastructure and sport.
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