Recently I had a chance to visit one of the historic projects for HOK. Early Last week, Steve Parshall (Advance Strategies) and I were in Riyadh to kick-off the Master Plan Update for King Saud University. The original Master Plan and a number of buildings on the campus were done by HOK in late 70s. The university opened in 1984 and at the time was one of the biggest projects in the world. Since then the university has grown faster than anyone’s imagination and now needs a fresh look at its resources and future growth. The university approached us to do a master plan update that will integrate a new research campus (Riyadh Techno Valley) and for the first time a Women’s College Campus next door to the main campus.
The university was just as I imagined it to be from the pictures: grand and spacious, using regional elements while having a very modern approach. I thought the central atrium space worked very well considering the climatic and cultural context of Riyadh. However, the tremendous growth in enrollment has resulted in traffic and parking issues. That will be our challenge over the next 5 months along with other issues like improving utilization of existing resources, activating after school campus life etc.
Can you imagine what it would be like for someone to comeback in 20 years and revisit KAUST? It’s that feeling I have: of having visited (and now participating in) what was and is a landmark project for the firm. It’s unbelievable..!!