Abu Dhabi, UAE | 2014, 475,000 SM | 5.10-Million SF

Architect: Rafael Vinoly Architects.

Key Personnel: Rafael Vinoly, Jay Bargmann, Charles Blomberg, Christian Callaghan, Andres Villaveces, P.L. Sorzano, Catalin Dobre, David Lessard, Ryan DeGuia, Tsunehisa Tsuda, Andrew Mellilo, Stephanie Tsang.

In the fall of 2007, New York University and the Executive Affairs Authority of the government of Abu Dhabi announced a partnership to form a new university called New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).  The campus will be framed as an extension of the research university and undergraduate college at NYU New York but it will also project its own identity which is specific to the conditions of its founding and the context and environment in which it will be located. NYUAD will be a highly selective liberal arts and sciences college fully integrated into a major research university and it will serve more than 4000 students from around the world. 

The campus is a 475,000 SM fast-track, design-build project scheduled for completion in February 2014. With an extremely aggressive schedule, construction of the campus began in late 2010 and overlapped with the design process as early as Schematic Design. As a result, the project has progressed under an exceptionally fast-paced environment, where design-issued documents are used for construction almost simultaneously.

The design of NYUAD incorporates important lessons of climatic architecture, the layering of social space, and other elements associated with traditional Arabic cities.  In addition, while certain pieces of traditional architectural forms enlighten the design, each building type was also considered as a whole. Because of the desire for a semi-public space to be shared by the campus and surrounding communities, the design incorporates passages, gardens and courtyards to organize the spaces between buildings. All these elements are present and mark traditional Arab cities. Based on the elongated geometry of the site, connection to the surrounding street grid is maximized; pedestrian paths within the site connect to the street grid to signal the shift from urban to pedestrian environments. Three main plazas punctuate the pedestrian paths. The central plaza is a ceremonial space on axis and the main entrance to the campus. 

The entire campus includes six buildings of student residences, two towers of faculty apartments, academic facilities, faculty and staff offices, two dining halls, administration, and operation and support spaces. A Performing Arts Center with a 700-seat theater, a Recital Hall and a Blackbox Theater anchors the East Plaza; an Experimental Research Center with state-of the-art laboratory facilities anchors the West Plaza. The Campus Center - containing the Library, Sports, Health and Student Center components - is located on the central plaza and serves as the visible and iconic landmark building. 

As one of the world’s leading research universities, NYUAD will be a vital and visible entity in Abu Dhabi and will be pivotal in Saadiyat Island’s development.