Thursday, February 18, 2010

The the Ibrahim Hashem House Preservation Project

Beginning in March of 2009, the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation’s Historic Preservation Program has been steadily working on the documentation of a small villa given to the GSAPP by the city of Amman in Jordan in the Ibrahim Hashem House Preservation Project. Leading this project is Professor Andrew Dolkart, who is working alongside a group of GSAPP students, as well as Professor George Wheeler and Dean Mark Wigley of the GSAPP.

This project is a part of a more general effort for Columbia University to make Amman a global center for Columbia. The subject of the project—the abandoned villa in Amman, Jordan—was built in 1935 for one of Jordan’s first prime ministers. The municipality of Amman gave the villa to Columbia and facilitated the work for the Ibrahim Hashem House Preservation Project.

The first step in the project began last spring, when Professor Dolkart selected five students based on their individual talents to work with him to restore the villa. These students had the opportunity to present their work to Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, advisory board member of the Columbia Global Center, at the March launch of the Center. The students continued working on the house through the summer of 2009.

When the Ibrahim Hashem House Preservation Project is completed, it will provide another venue for Columbia University in the city of Amman that has the specific function of developing collaborative projects between Columbia University and local and regional architects, planners, and preservationists.

Professor Dolkart and his team of students and colleagues hold as the final goal of this project the rehabilitation of the villa. They hope that the finished project will provide a residential center for visiting scholars in Amman, as well as a site for discussion, and the sharing of ideas about what Professor Dolkart calls the “built world.” The team hopes to add a cafĂ© and a gallery to the villa, but the specifics, according to Professor Dolkart, will have to be worked out as the design proceeds.

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