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21 November, 2010

VCUQatar Celebrates Opening of North Wing Expansion

Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar celebrated the opening of its North Wing with an Open House event on 21 November, 2010, which was attended by guests from VCU Richmond, Qatar Foundation representatives, VIPs, sponsors and friends besides students, faculty and staff.

The day began with a communal breakfast for students, faculty and staff after which students went to their respective fashion design, graphic design, interior design, painting and printmaking and design studies studios to work on projects that would be showcased to the guests in the afternoon.

At 3:00 PM, the VCUQatar community gathered again in the Saffron Hall for a dessert reception during which the winners of the VCU and You photo contest were announced. The contest, which ran for a month, saw VCUQatar students, faculty and staff share photos of their favorite moment, place, memory or time at VCUQatar.

The public reception began in the afternoon during which Dean Allyson Vanstone welcomed the guests and thanked architect Hazem Abu Naba for the beautifully designed building. “I would like to thank the Qatar Foundation Chair, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al Missned for visionary leadership; Dr. Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani, vice president of Education for Qatar Foundation and president of Education City University for continuous support and guidance; and vice president of Capital Projects Qatar Foundation Saad Al Muhannadi and his team, who made this expansion a reality.” Dean Vanstone then invited Dr. Beverly Warren, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at VCU to say a few words.

Dr. Warren welcomed everybody on behalf of VCU President Dr. Michael Rao and took the guests through the university’s vision and mission, its accomplishments, the contributions of the alumni and elucidated as well the role VCUQatar played in creating awareness about design in the region over the 13 years since its establishment. “It’s truly a transformative moment for the School of Arts,” she said. “Within these walls, the students and faculty work together on different programs like nanotechnology textiles. Through this building dedication we’re acknowledging the work, dreams and aspirations of the students who will go on to make a difference and create a design future for this region.”

Dr. Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani followed by congratulating VCUQatar on setting yet another milestone. “VCU is of course the first and oldest US partner of Qatar Foundation, and we are aware that your confidence in the vision of His Highness the Emir and Her Highness Sheikha Mozah was a significant milestone for us in creating Education City. We thank you for that trust”. Dr Abdullah went on to add that “VCUQatar has always been eager to take on new challenges and ensure that we reach solutions that are practical and focused on the needs of people.” He spoke about the programs VCUQatar has introduced in keeping with this vision and about the positive difference VCUQatar graduates were making to the way Qatar develops. He concluded saying, “VCU has always been a constructive and proactive partner, and I very much look forward to your continuing support in the year to come as our new university both expands and deepens its multilateral collaboration.”

The official dedication ceremony came to a close with the unveiling of an artwork presented to VCUQatar by renowned Qatari artist Yousef Ahmed Al Hommaid which adorns a wall in the Saffron Hall and will be an inspiration to all the designers walking through. “A dedicated friend and supporter of VCUQatar, Yousef Ahmed was one of the first people I met in Qatar in his official capacity as a member on the school’s Joint Advisory Board. With the initiation of our Painting and Printmaking program, Mr. Yousef is an active mentor to our first group of students. Tonight, we are delighted to dedicate the North Wing with a painting presented by Yousef Ahmed, entitled, ‘Mirage in the desert’, said Dean Vanstone.

Following the dedication, Dean Vanstone invited guests to go on a guided tour of the expansion which took them through the news spaces – from the beautiful library, the gallery and the different studios, where students displayed projects they had been working on during the day, through the state-of-the-art materials lab, media lab and fabrication lab, to finally end on the second floor where guests joined the VCUQatar community for a reception to close the day-long event.

The expansion project, for which construction began in October 2008, was completed in time for the fall 2010 semester start. With this, VCUQatar has expanded floor space by more than125%. The old building (South Wing) was approximately 9,037 sq meters in size and the expansion (North Wing) has added 11,451 sq meters more bringing the total size to 20,488 sq. meters.

12 studios, 3 classrooms, a library, a cafeteria/kitchen, 3 student lounges, a bookstore, administrative offices, 21 faculty offices, a high end media room, a photography studio, a materials library, a large open exhibit/event area on the 2nd floor , CRID offices and studios, a  large open, 3-storey atrium on ground floor are all part of the new expansion.

Dean Allyson Vanstone with US Ambassador Joseph LeBaron, Dr. Beverly Warren, Mr Yousef Ahmed Al Hommaid and Dr. Abdullah Al Thani after unveiling the painting gifted by Mr Al Hommaid to VCUQatar

VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone welcoming guests to the opening

Dr. Beverly Warren, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs addressing the gathering

Dr. Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani, vice president of Education for Qatar Foundation and president of Education City University speaking to the gathering