Qatar Foundation (QF) for Education, Science and Community Development is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1995. Qatar Foundation’s vision and mission statements focus on the development of people’s abilities through establishing a network of centers and partnerships with strategically selected institutions. Education City – Qatar Foundation's main project – is intended as a center of excellence in education and research.
Currently, QF offers branch campuses of eight elite international universities; one of them is Carnegie Mellon Business and Computer Science College, which was the forth university to offer academic programs in Education City on 2004. These programs include five undergraduate majors which are: Biological Sciences, Business Administration, Computational Biology, Computer Science, and Information Systems. All the five undergraduate majors require four years of full-time study, after which students earn a Bachelor of Science degree. In addition, students are offered general education in disciplines ranging from, but not limited to Chemistry, English, History, and Architecture. Furthermore, a small faculty-to-student ratio allows students to have closer interaction with instructors, having a more personalized learning experience. In addition to its 90 staff members, Carnegie Mellon Qatar currently has approximately 300 students, and 60 faculty members and researchers.
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Qatar Foundation’s campus, covering an area of 15,000,000 sq. m, is located at the western edge of Doha. The site includes the majority of Qatar Foundation's universities and institutions placed in buildings designed by some of the well renowned architects in the country. For instance, Arata Isozaki – who also designed a number of its buildings – developed the master plan of Education City campus.
Legorreta + Legorreta designed the Carnegie Mellon Business and Computer Science College in affiliation with Halcrow Consulting & Architecture Limited as executive architects; with Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Foundation Capital Projects Department as the project management team and client representatives. The design of the project commenced on February 2005, with the brief – provided by he client – requiring the end user to design a contemporary and functional educational building that would reflect Qatar's cultural heritage and environment. The construction started on March 2007, and was completed on August 2008. Subsequently, the official opening ceremony was held on February 2009. In addition to designing the building of Georgetown University and the Student Center at Education City, Legorreta + Legorreta also designed the Texas A&M University at Qatar building, which is located next to the Carnegie Mellon site.
The Carnegie Mellon Business and Computer Science College is located at a site crossed by one of the main pedestrian promenades (Ceremonial Green Spine) of Education City. The building has two main components: a rectangular block along the north side of the promenade; and a semi-circular block on the south side that creates in the center an atrium connected to the Green Spine – which passes through the building. The northern and southern blocks are joined by a series of bridge links. The total area of the site is 49,655 m2, with the ground floor area of 18,096 m2; the total combined area of the floors – including basement, ground floor and all upper floors – is 44,259 m2.
The massing of the building was designed with series of volumes having offset spacing in-between, creating common indoor and outdoor spaces. The northern rectangular block is subdivided into four floor plates separated by external courtyards; access between these blocks is through a link corridor heading towards the northern edge of the block. On the other hand, the southern semi circular block is subdivided into five floor plates by external gardens; access between these blocks is via a link corridor heading towards the northern edge of the block. The building windows are designed to be facing the internal courtyards, and the openings are concentrated on the northern façade of the building.
Contextually, the building is located between Cornell University to the North and Taxes A&M University to the South. The east elevation is opposite to the Student Center and Central Plant, and the west elevation is facing a big car park area, which is shared between the three universities. You can also see the LAS building from a distance. The two main pedestrian entries are located along the East-West Green Spine. On the eastern side, the building’s main entrance is a transparent membrane directly placed over the Green Spine. The VIP entrance is also towards the East, with its own lobby and large metallic sculpture that was designed by Sheikh Hassan Al- Thani. There is another main entrance at the opposite end of the main entrance, opening in the same transparent way as the main Green Spine of Education City. A secondary entrance is located at the south side of the site, which serves as a link between Carnegie Mellon University and Taxes A&M University.
Palm trees and water features are placed along the outdoor paths that lead into the three-story, glass ceiling walkways. The landscaped courtyards and water features are carved out of the mass of the building. The East and the VIP entrances are surrounded by tired water features and landscape areas.
The building consists of a basement, ground floor, first floor and second floor. Bridges on the upper levels connect both parts of the building to each other over the Green Spine, while the ground floor remains open just for pedestrian traffic. The building was designed as a series of volumes, containing 149 offices and workstations, a library, five lecture halls, 11 classrooms, five laboratories, five computer classrooms, and both an interdisciplinary and robotics laboratory. In addition to faculty and student lounges and meeting rooms, the building includes a food court, fitness rooms and locker areas. Special areas such as the food court, the library and the lounges are in direct relation with the central atrium. This area, like the Green Spine and the courtyards, is covered at the roof with pergolas.
Beyond the food court is a large common area that can host about 400 people. The common area is an enclosed interior courtyard with triple volume height space, having Majlis-style seating with a skylight roof to provide daylight. Open to two floors of offices and classrooms, the focal point of the space is a large water feature. In addition to this, a plinth with etched quotes from Andrew Carnegie and The Emir of Qatar gives extra beauty in the area. Furthermore, the VIP room and blue walls courtyard are located on the north side of the building.
Materials and Finishes
Materials used throughout the building – inside and out – are generally natural materials. The elevations are covered with a combination of rough Dolphur beige sandstone on the main surfaces, and Rosa Travertine Marble in the offsets of the building’s four facades. The same material is also applied in the walls and floors inside the building. In addition, the floors are also covered with beige epoxy terrazzo, and the walls are covered with painted cement board plaster. The wood latticework is also partly introduced on the walls and ceilings. Carpet flooring is used in the offices, library and classrooms. In addition to the use of Onyx lighting fixtures and Bronze hardware in the rooms, the Green Spine Art Wall is covered with Corten Steel panels and Teak Sandstone from India with gold leaf details. Special internal walls and doors are made of geometric mosaics of wood and stained glass, while external walls of prayers rooms and internal wall of toilet rooms are made of blue and yellow mosaic tiles. The colorful environment begins with the yellow pergola from the entrances until the indoor atrium, with red plaster coverings in the curving atrium, and with the blue ceilings in the VIP courtyard and other areas within the building. In addition, naturally red colored Rosa Travertine is also used on the walls and the floors.
Art is integrated in the building through the art wall, which was designed by Legorreta + Legorreta in collaboration with by Mexican artist Pilar Climent. The wall is intended to represent an abstraction of the desert. Over the central bridge, the pattern is composed of steel, sandstone, colored glass and a gold leaf inlays representing the sun; then the pattern softens towards the edges. Besides the art wall, there are other large art pieces in the building, such as the mural by Doug Cooper and Studio Seek (depicting Qatar History) which was presented as a gift to HH Sheikha Mozah from Carnegie Mellon during the opening ceremony. Furthermore, the facility’s VIP lounge exhibits pieces by Climent and local artist Moza Al-Kuwari.
Lastly, the building innovation features include: VAV (Variable Air Volume) boxes that will control the use of Air Conditioning units, while regulating the rate of energy consumption; AHU (Air Handling Units) to control chilled water flow rate, regulating energy consumption, and controlling speed when the flow rate is decreased through its VFD (Variable Frequency Drive); heat pipes to pre-cool the fresh air intake; and high performance glass (“superglass") to have natural light inside, but to prevent the inefficient heat gain associated with skylights in some climates as well.