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George R. Rais’ legacy inspires AUB’s top architecture students
3/16/2017
Safa Jafari Safa  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
AUB’s top four third-year architecture students received this year’s George R. Rais Architecture Award. Sharing the first prize with the same top average were Christina Battikha and Careen Matta. Second prize went to Nayla Saniour and winner of the third prize was Maha Sabalbal.

“This is a success for the whole department – the school that taught me so much – the instructors, my friends, and my parents,” said Christina Battikha. “This award shows that I worked hard throughout these years. If you work hard, you will find great results.”

The George Rais Architecture Award, now in its third year, offers three prizes to students who have the highest average from their second year and the first semester of their third year of study. The winners were selected by the Department of Architecture’s Administrative Committee out of 34 third-year architecture students enrolled ​this year.

“This award is proof that hard work pays off,” said Careen Matta. “It makes me so happy to be awarded while surrounded by all the people who supported me as I gave my best over the years.”

Sany Jamal, owner of Jamal Architects and Engineers and senior lecturer at AUB’s Department of Architecture and Design, was George Rais’ partner, friend, and son-in-law. He spoke to an audience of AUB community members and students surrounded by their families and friends about what it means to follow in the footsteps of George Rais. 

“George loved to discuss everything, question everything, even what he himself was designing; he is the eternal doubter constantly looking for the ideal solution,” said Jamal. “A thorough architect… he believed that his first loyalty was to the honesty of his practice of architecture, his second loyalty was to the project, and after that to the client.”

The George R. Rais Architecture Award was established in 2014 through a gift from Michel Rais to honor the memory and accomplishments of his brother, renowned architect George Rais (1915-2002) who was also a faculty member at AUB between 1977 and 1984. Rais was one of Lebanon’s first established architects who crafted the new republic’s own distinct architectural and design style in the 1950s. Rais collaborated with and trained leading architects in Lebanon and the region and was involved in many important projects such as the Pan Am Building in Riad el Solh and El Hamra Cinema building in Beirut, as well as high profile projects in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, and Switzerland.

“I came to this ceremony walking under the rain and with every step I was thinking ‘This is for you, Daddy,’” said Rula Rais (BArch 1978), daughter of George Rais. “I know how much this means to him. My father gave me the spirit of competition and here I see that this spirit lives on. He always encouraged excellence and hard work – if he was here with us today he would be very pleased to see these students do so well.” Rula’s sister Rania also studied architecture at AUB.

Attending also was Anwar Rais (BBA 1968), son of Michel Rais, a successful businessman who graduated from London University in 1932 and established the award at AUB before passing away in 2014. Anwar expressed satisfaction as he walked down memory lane at his alma mater. 

“My father wanted his big brother’s name to live on. I am happy that both their names live on through this award. This award gives me a sense of satisfaction, knowing that there are hardworking people who deservedly get recognized.”  Anwar said that his father chose AUB as the recipient of his six-figure gift because of what it meant to his brother and the desire to keep his legacy alive through students who also work hard and excel, in the spirit of George Rais.

Story Highlights
  • ​​AUB’s top four architecture students received this year’s George R. Rais Architecture Award.
  • Sharing the first prize with the same top average were Christina Battikha and Careen Matta. Second prize went to Nayla Saniour and winner of the third prize was Maha Sabalbal.
 
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