One of the most prolific and innovative architects of our time, and a highly accomplished urban planner, Amale Andraos is the Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Andraos was raised by her architect and artist father, Farid Andraos, in Beirut, Lebanon, where she first discovered her love for architecture. She has lived in the Netherlands, Canada, France, and Saudi Arabia.

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Amale Andraos_©Wikipedia GSAPPstudent

A world-renowned architect and educator, Andraos has said that her Lebanese upbringing and experience as a child of war shaped her view of architecture as a “Tool for social change.” She has completed many notable projects both in the United States and internationally.

Andraos is a respected leader in the architectural community, and her work has been honoured with numerous awards. She was recently named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Andraos has worked as a professor at various universities, including Princeton, Harvard, and the American University of Beirut. She has positions on the Architectural League of New York boards and the New Museum’s New INC. Advisory Council, and the AUB Faculty of Engineering and Architecture International Advisory Committee in New York.

Introduction to the Architectural Ideology of Amale Andraos

Andraos’s work focuses on three main areas: cities, culture, and nature. For Andraos, architecture is about more than just aesthetics; it must also be functional and responsive to its environment. “Good design,” she says, “is a synthesis of many different disciplines: art, science, engineering, history.”

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Use of bright bold colors in Miami Museum Garage._©Miguel de Guzman

Exploring the relationship between architecture and the public realm, she is interested in how architecture can shape our cities and improve the quality of life for all residents. She believes that architects are responsible for creating meaningful spaces that reflect the values of the people who use them. Amale Andraos considers architecture more than aesthetics; it should be about making a statement and creating an experience. She wants her buildings to tell a story and make people feel something. This is evident in her work, which often features bold colours and unconventional shapes.

The Design Philosophy of Amale Andraos

As a practising architect, Amale Andraos is deeply committed to the design philosophy that architecture should be accessible and engaging for everyone. This belief is evident in her award-winning designs, which are often lauded for their community-oriented approach and public engagement.

Andraos’ commitment to accessible and community-driven architecture extends beyond her professional work; she is also a founding member of the Architecture for Humanity New York Chapter, which provides pro-bono architectural services to underserved communities. In addition, she has taught at both Columbia University and Cooper Union, two of the most prestigious architecture schools in the country.

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Edible Schoolyard Garden._©Bruce Damonte

Andraos’ holistic approach to architectural design considers the needs of both individuals and communities. She believes that good design can transform people’s lives, and her work reflects this belief. From public parks to housing developments, Andraos’ designs emphasize connection and community-building, always intending to make the World a better place.

The Formation of WORKac

She founded the design firm “WORKac” with her husband, Dan Wood, in 2003. The firm emphasizes public, cultural, and civic initiatives that reinvent how people interact, live, and work in the World. The goal is to advance beyond the projected and into the possible by integrating architectural, landscape, and ecological systems and fusing polemical optimism with reality.

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Amale Andraos with husband Dan Wood._©Bjarne Jonasson

She collaborated in creating Public Farm 1 for the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program, the Edible Schoolyards at PS216 in Brooklyn and PS7 in Harlem, new offices for Wieden+Kennedy in New York, a conference centre in Gabon, as well as other projects at WORKac. The company has recently finished an impressive refurbishment of a public library in Kew Gardens, Queens.

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Kew Gardens Library._©Bruce Damonte

Commitment to Sustainability

Andraos is known for her commitment to sustainable design and urban planning. In an interview with Metropolis magazine, she said: “I believe that architects have a responsibility not just to design pretty buildings but to take part in shaping the fabric of our cities and society.” This belief is evident in her work, which often focuses on re-imagining public spaces and creating more livable cities. 

She conjectures that architects must consider the environmental impact of their projects and design buildings that will be resilient to the effects of climate change. Her philosophy dictates that architecture should be accessible to everyone, regardless of income level.

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P.F.1 (Public Farm 1) in Queens uses Biodegradable cardboard tubes._©Elizabeth Felicella
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P.F.1 (Public Farm 1), New York by WORKac._©Elizabeth Felicella

“How we build and reshape the relationship with what we call the environment today, and the question of climate change is fundamental and urgent. I want the double question of climate change and the global condition to radically impact how we teach, what we teach, and how we design across the disciplines.”

Amale Andraos, Interviewed by Felix Burrichter.

Notable works of Amale Andraos

Amale Andraos is responsible for several notable public and private buildings, including the Miami Museum garage, Public Farm 1 (P.F.1) Queens, New York, and RISD Student Success Center. In addition to her architectural work, Andraos is also a prolific writer and thinker on urbanism and architecture. Her book, The Arab City: Architecture and Representation, is considered a seminal work.

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RISD Student Success Center._©Elizabeth Felicella
RISD Student Success Center._©Elizabeth Felicella

Citation:

  1. Bernstein, F.A. (2018) How this Lebanese architect made U.S. history, Architectural Digest. Architectural Digest. Available at: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/amale-andraos-lebanese-born-architect-columbia-made-us-history (Accessed: November 10, 2022).
  2. Hong, C. (2018) Four designing couples on what it’s like to work together, Architectural Digest. Available at: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/designing-couples-on-what-its-like-to-work-together (Accessed: November 10, 2022).
  3. Workac (no date) About – WORKac. Available at: https://work.ac/about/ (Accessed: November 9, 2022).
  4. Shirley Fernandes(2022) Amale Andraos: Ideology and Philosophy, RTF | Rethinking The Future. Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/know-your-architects/a6536-amale-andraos-ideology-and-philosophy/#:~:text=Amale%20Andraos%20is%20a%20firm,might%20happen%20in%20the%20interiors. (Accessed: November 10, 2022).
Author

Badurunissa is an architect, history enthusiast, Literary fiction aficionado, and aspiring writer. She likes to weave worlds through words and is always trying to find ways to understand the parallels between culture and architecture. A lover of the lively and vibrant, she seeks to create spaces that emulate the same.

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