Architecture is a strange field where we’re constantly asked to demonstrate over and over why design matters, to everyone, all the time. It’s exhausting.” – Amale Andraos

An academic and architectural practitioner Amale Andraos is a Lebanese-born Architect and immigrant who has made important contributions to the fields of architecture and design. 

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Amale Andraos_©Raymond Adams

Her Initial Days

Born in Beirut in 1973, she moved to Saudi Arabia, France, Canada, and the Netherlands. Furthermore, she did her Bachelor of Architecture from McGill University and a Master of Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Interest in Architecture

As Andraos observed her father, architect and artist Farid Andraos, at work, she developed an interest in architecture. At the start of the war, he chose to leave Lebanon and his practice to start a prefabricated housing company in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where Amale grew up. She swore she would never become an architect until she was 18 years old. But, as things stand, she was always fascinated by it, and it seemed natural for her to pursue it.

Works

Andraos has taught at prestigious institutions such as Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the American University of Beirut. In 2014, she was chosen dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, making her the first woman to hold this position. 

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Dan Wood and Amale Andraos_©Laurel Golio

Along with her husband, Dan Wood, she is also a founding principal of WORKac (WORK Architecture Company), a New York-based architecture firm that emphasises on architectural projects that reinvent the correlation between built and natural environments.

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Inside WORKac_©Raymond Adams

By integrating reimagining and collaborative learning with other fields, they aim to develop ingenious and shared structures and acquire a far more careful integration of architectural style, landscape, and eco – systems.

Prior to actually co-founding WORKac, Andraos spent years working in Rotterdam, New York, and Montreal.

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P.F.1 (Public Farm One)_©Elizabeth Felicella

Sustainability

Amale Andraos has dedicated her career to sustainability in its truest sense. She believes that while technology and the use of “green” materials are important, we cannot rely solely on them. As a result, she is more interested in engaging in core aspects such as scale, program re-writing, infrastructure re-imagining, and interactions with culture, narrative, and art. And believes that all of these factors are vital if we want our lives to be sustainable.

Luxury

Luxury, according to Amale Andraos, is a great word to reinvent. There’s a long history of doing so. Luxury was reinvented as a pure function by modernism. Sustainability—thinking about the built environment’s relationship to climate change at all scales—is also a luxury for her. So she thinks it is a very urban concept, designing in a sustainable way that isn’t just about advanced technologies but also about density issues.

RISD Student Success Center by WORKac_©Bruce Damonte

Interiors

Amale Andraos is a firm believer in thinking about an interior as one would think about a city—in terms of the vividness of experience, seeking to create a diverse range of spatial and material sensations, and developing thoughts for scenarios of what might happen in the interiors.

Life and Architecture

Although Amale Andraos is a Lebanese architect living in New York, she has never considered herself an immigrant, but just someone who has ended up living and loving a variety of places. Furthermore, she feels that it is a good background for an architect because one can always look at something in a completely different way, leaving one open to new possibilities to reimagine it.

She thinks that as architects, we need to improve our capacity to think relationally, whether we are studying history, a specific urban context, or re-inventing an architectural typology. We also need to think at multiple scales at the same time as we figure out how to build better teams capable of tackling issues such as climate change, designing resilient infrastructure, imagining more equitable cities, and creating more meaningful architecture.

Finally, as Amale Andraos, past dean of Columbia GSAPP and co-founder of Workac, states, “There is so much available to be reinvented. The definition of success is up for grabs.”

References:

  1.     Vivian Marino/ The New York Times (2015). A Conversation With Amale Andraos [online]. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/03/realestate/commercial/a-conversation-with-amale-andraos.html [Accessed date: 08/10/2021].
  2.     Fred A. Bernstein/Architectural Digest (2018). How Lebanese-Born Architect Amale Andraos Made U.S. History [online]. Available at: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/amale-andraos-lebanese-born-architect-columbia-made-us-history [Accessed date: 08/10/2021].
  3.     Axor Interview (20__). AMALE ANDRAOS AND DAN WOOD: STEALTH BUILDING. [online]. Available at https://www.axor-design.com/int/inspiration/storybook/interview-stealth-building [Accessed date: 08/10/2021].
  4.     Andrew Stone / Interior Design (2014). 10 Questions With… Amale Andraos. [online]. Available at: https://interiordesign.net/designwire/10-questions-with-amale-andraos/ [Accessed date: 08/10/2021].
  5.     David Basulto/ ArchDaily (2008). AD Interviews: Amale Andraos & Dan Wood / Work AC [online]. Available at https://www.archdaily.com/1107/ad-interviews-amale-andraos-dan-wood-work-ac [Accessed date: 08/10/2021].
  6.     Vasundhara Agarwal/ ArchDaily (2018). Intruders in the Boys’ Club: Women Redefining Success in Architecture [online]. Available at https://www.archdaily.com/908094/intruders-in-the-boys-club-women-redefining-success-in-architecture [Accessed date: 08/10/2021].
Author

Shirley is an architecture student with an interest in sustainable design. She believes that as designers we must not only wisely design for people, but also share our ideas, thoughts, and vision with the community to make the beautiful nuances of architecture accessible to all.

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