American University of Beirut

Perkins&Will steps up to support Beirut – and AUBMC

Monday, September 14, 2020​​​

Many people who work at the award-winning global architecture and design firm Perkins&Will know the city of Beirut, and the AUB Medical Center (AUBMC) in particular, very well. In 2015, Perkins&Will was selected to design the New Medical Center building. The firm’s connection to Beirut dates back even longer, to 1986, when it became a part of the “Dar family” (Dar Al-Handasah - Shair and Partners). 

AUB has a long and very special relationship with Dar Al-Handasah, which was founded in 1956 by the late Dr. Kamal Shair, who was an AUB faculty member for six years (1956-62) and an AUB trustee from 1990 until he passed away in 2008. In 2016, Dar Al-Handasah CEO and AUB trustee Talal Shair pledged to fully support the design of the new AUB Medical Center, as well as the development of a Campus Master Plan.

“Our first thoughts on August 4 were for our friends and their families,” remembers Perkins& Will Chief Executive Officer Phil Harrison. “The Dar Beirut office is just five kilometers from the site of the explosion in the Beirut port. It was a big relief for all of us to learn that there were no serious injuries among Dar staff in Beirut.” Many Perkins&Will staff wanted to help. Angela Kunz was one of them. Kunz has been living in Beirut since 2014 where she is head of interiors at Dar Al-Handasah (Shair and Partners). “Dar has made me a part of their family. I’ve grown fond of Beirut and admire the Lebanese people. It’s a heartbreaking situation and I want to support however possible,” she says.

After consulting with colleagues at Dar in Beirut, Harrison sent an email to Perkins&Will staff worldwide saying that the greatest need “was to support the health system in Beirut, which was heavily impacted by the explosion and pushed to the breaking point.” He noted that AUBMC was “only a short distance from the explosion site and at the center of the medical response.” Harrison announced that Perkins&Will would match all donations to the AUBMC Emergency Fund​ “in support of our Dar colleagues in Beirut and to have a stronger firm-wide response.” 

The response was incredible and immediate: AUB has received more than 100 donations from Perkins&Will employees. “We are deeply grateful to Perkins&Will for this extraordinary support during this terribly challenging time for our city and our university,” said VP for Advancement and Business Development Imad B. Baalbaki. “It is especially meaningful to receive this support from Perkins&Will, being a member of the Dar Group and its connection to Dar Al-Handasah (Shair and Partners). The Shair family, Dar Al-Handasah, and the Dar Group have been true partners of AUB for many years."

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