Jim Yarrington is a student of his craft—understanding buildings and their architecture. As one would look at paintings and sculptures, he views buildings not only for their function but their form and placement within a community.
Upon landing in Dubai recently to assist in planning the construction of RIT Dubai’s new campus building, Yarrington, director of RIT’s campus planning, design and construction department, walked among the city’s landmarks and people. He took the opportunity to experience the growth of the United Arab Emirates’ most progressive city and RIT’s place within this trading center at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa.
“What struck me about Dubai was the community planning,” Yarrington says. It was his first visit to the country and the second time he has participated in an RIT building project abroad. “Beautiful mosques, museums, souks, or marketplaces—and homes of Middle Eastern royalty are as prominent as the modern transit system and international business ventures in Dubai.”
RIT first offered graduate degrees in 2008 in engineering, business and information technology and, this year, will expand into undergraduate degree programs in the same areas. It will do so in a new campus building situated a drive away from the regional architecture of centuries past.
RIT is currently among many businesses and other universities housed in the Dubai Silicon Oasis headquarters building. After an investment by the government of Dubai, the university will move into a new free-standing campus building within the Silicone Oasis complex, one of the first of its kind for a U.S.-sponsored college, Yarrington says. “This provides RIT an opportunity to confirm its commitment to Dubai and greatly increase our visibility in the community.”
The new RIT campus building, scheduled to open in December, is a reflection of the balance between the country’s progressive focus and its time-honored traditions. It is equipped with modern laboratory and classroom facilities intermixed with private prayer rooms, one for men, one for women, for its Muslim students, Yarrington explained.
New service areas have been added, others expanded. People will be welcomed into expansive lobbies that will feature three main areas open to the public as well as students: a dining facility, fitness center and bookstore. The second floor houses a library, the majority of classroom space as well as labs and faculty offices. The third floor has additional office space, a central atrium and multi-purpose meeting rooms.
“The new facility will serve both the college community and the general public,” says Yarrington. “Our new ‘home’ in Dubai will allow us to better serve our expanded program as well as provide RIT a unique public presence in this critical part of the 21st century world.”