American University of Beirut

International competition asks students to re-imagine the Ada Dodge Garden

Jennifer Muller, Office of Communications,​​

The AUB President’s Club International Student Competition to come up with a new look for the Ada Dodge Garden culminated with the awarding of two prizes at a ceremony and exhibition in the garden itself. The top two student teams were from the University of Sheffield and the University of Greenwich, both in the UK.




Organized by the AUB Botanic Garden Committee (AUBotanic) under the leadership of Dr. Maria Gabriella Trovato, the competition was made possible by support from the AUB President’s Club. Design students from around the world were challenged to submit their proposals for rehabilitating the Ada Dodge Garden.

“This competition was the first International design event that was organized as part of the AUBotanic activities” said Trovato, an assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management in AUB’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences. “Intended to gather innovative and practical ideas for the garden renovation, the competition was an opportunity to highlight the landscape character and quality of the AUB campus.”

The teams who entered the competition came from universities in Serbia, Poland, UK, and Italy, as well as two teams from AUB. Each team had to be led by a landscape architecture student, although multidisciplinary team membership was encouraged.

A jury of international and local experts evaluated the entries in total anonymity and they were impressed by the diverse ideas presented. However, the jury’s recommendation was to limit the winning schemes to 2nd and 3rd place because they felt that none of the participating designs responded to all of the competition criteria, including coherence and clarity of the ideas; integration of practical and aesthetic aspects; and the ecological, sustainable, cultural, and historic concerns.

Both of the winning proposals came from universities in the UK. In second place, a team from the University of Sheffield—Hanyu Wu, Yilin Ai, Yinxiaou Ji, and Ruiya Chen—presented a concept they called “Encounter of Everything.” The team proposed a well thought out reorganization and management of the existing garden, and proposed a minimal intervention, attempting to conserve the existing character of the garden and its surroundings.  The jury credited them with having gone “in depth in terms of integrating activities with varying intensities of sound and lighting.”

In third place, the entry entitled "We Individuals Together" was submitted by students from the University of Greenwich: Liz Stark, Mais Kalthoum, Dilip Lakhani, and Cesare Cardia. The jury appreciated that this project was “bold in breaking the conventional spatial attributes of the site and in merging the garden with its surroundings,” including an expanded seating area linking the garden to the cafeteria steps.

These design proposals for the Ada Dodge Garden will be taken into consideration by AUB’s Facilities and Planning Design Unit and other units involved in planning updates to campus as part of the new campus master plan.

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