YEREVAN — The American University of Armenia (AUA) has initiated groundbreaking efforts for the construction of the new Science and Engineering building and is now embracing a revised plan: the additional construction of the new Humanities and Social Sciences building and Arts building, along with an atrium that will connect all three buildings. The initial capital undertaking was expanded pursuant to magnanimous contributions by the Avedisian and Akian families earmarked for this ambitious endeavor.
Expansion of the University’s physical space will enable AUA to appropriately respond to the growing demand for the excellent education it delivers and prevent the University from turning away highly qualified students due to space restrictions. Possessing the qualifications for admission to competitive universities in other countries, many of these students who are turned away, then leave Armenia to study abroad. With the University’s student population projected to significantly increase in the next five years, AUA is arduously involved in updating its curricula and preparing to introduce new degree programs in science, engineering, humanities, social sciences, and the arts.
In August 2023, AUA announced a $20 million gift from Pamela Wood Avedisian in honor of her late husband, Edward Avedisian, and his steadfast support for over 20 years as an AUA trustee, philanthropist, and visionary. As part of this tremendous contribution, the new Edward and Pamela Avedisian Building will be dedicated to the humanities and social sciences, with the Paruyr Sevak Building to the arts program. “Edward was truly excited to see AUA grow and evolve over the past three decades and wanted us to contribute to that development. We both understood the need for expansion to further broaden the University’s offerings and fields of excellence,” said Pamela.
Following this news, Zaven P. and his late wife Sonia Akian also announced their significant contribution of $9 million to name the new science and engineering building the Akian Family Building. Zaven expressed, “I had felt for a long time that AUA’s College of Science & Engineering needed physical expansion to facilitate the addition of new degree programs in other critical disciplines and state-of-the-art laboratories. I couldn’t ignore the financial need to make this a reality; I wanted to ensure that the College would be transformed into a fully-fledged quality STEM educational center in our homeland for generations to come.”
Connecting all three new buildings and providing separate entrances will be an atrium called the Founders’ Atrium, which will also be used for various cultural, academic, and other collaborative events. An important component will also be underground parking.
Aligned with the academic disciplines to be housed in these buildings, the revised construction strategy reinforces the functionality of the two buildings to better meet the University’s growing enrollment numbers in the associated programs.
The new buildings will include state-of-the-art classrooms, offices, science and engineering laboratories, conference rooms, auditoriums, art studios, music rooms, and other functional spaces. Donors will also have the chance to leave their mark in the new buildings through various naming opportunities. A select group of steadfast supporters have already committed to naming facilities in the new buildings. In addition to the Akian and Avedisian families, these benefactors include Sarkis and Ruth Bedevian; Jack Munushian Charitable Trust, Gary R. Phillips and Zourab Bassmadjian, co-trustees; Paul and Kate Agbabian; Albert and Terry Bezjian; and Hagop and Iroula Manuelian.
AUA initially launched its efforts for expansion through the Build a Better Future with AUA capital campaign solely for building a new science and engineering building. Now, with the revised construction strategy that includes the addition of two new buildings, along with the understanding that AUA plays a critical role in Armenia’s need to accelerate progress and innovation in science, technology, and engineering as they relate to humanities, social sciences, and the arts, the institution has set a goal of $50 million to successfully complete this ambitious undertaking. With over $30 million of the targeted amount raised from major and other donor funds, AUA continues to promote fundraising efforts to complete the capital campaign.
Initial planning for the new buildings’ construction is currently underway. The AUA Building Committee, chaired by President Emeritus Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, has identified, interviewed, and shortlisted architectural firms and selected Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners for the project. Long-time friend and supporter of the University, Ronald Altoon, FAIA, LEED AP, president and CEO of Altoon Strategic consulting firm and former president of the American Institute of Architects, agreed to advise and provide guidance to the Committee. At the same time, the University is appealing to the community, once again, to help raise the funds necessary to proceed with the planned expansion and to extend their support to ensure the sustained provision of the quality of education AUA aims to deliver in Armenia.