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  • Tajik campus at Dasht, an elevated triangular terrace just northwest of Khorog. The University of Central Asia was founded in 2000 by His Highness the Aga Khan and the Presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan to help find solutions to the unique economic and social development challenges faced by the Central Asian mountain regions. It will operate on three campuses, one in each country.
    AKDN / Jean-Luc Ray
Lead architect and landscape architect selected for University of Central Asia campuses

Geneva, Switzerland, 24 June 2004 - His Highness the Aga Khan has announced the selection of the lead architect and the landscape architect for the three sites of the University of Central Asia. The three campuses, in Tekeli, Kazakhstan; Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic; and Khorog, Tajikistan, are being conceived as innovative “university parks”.

Architectural planning for the sites is being carried out by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. Site designs for the three campuses are being developed by Sasaki Associates. Mr. Isozaki and Sasaki Associates’ principals Anthony Mallows and Kenneth Bassett will be collaborating closely to build the University campuses.

The goal of the University of Central Asia (UCA) is to serve the 40 million people who live in the mountain regions of Central Asia by fostering economic and social development. The three sites, which already offer practical continuing education courses in temporary premises, are expected to be in operation in 2007.

“There is a growing appreciation of the link between the intellectual resources of major universities and the overall development of cities and nations,” said His Highness the Aga Khan. “The three campuses of the University of Central Asia will be catalysts for the development of the region.”

The lead architect, Mr. Arata Isozaki, has won more than 20 architectural prizes in Japan, the United States, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain. Since 1963 his firm has created such major projects as the Olympic stadium in Barcelona, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the museum in Takasaki City, Japan. A visiting professor at Tokyo University, University of California Los Angeles, Harvard, and Columbia, he is one of the premier exponents of a contemporary style in architecture, employing materials and a language of design that speak to modern people everywhere while remaining sensitive to the specific needs of environment and climate.

Site designs for the three campuses and for the "university parks" are being developed by Sasaki Associates of Watertown, USA. The landscaped park zones will include walking trails, sports centres, and other facilities. Sasaki Associates was established by Hideo Sasaki in 1953, the same year he joined the faculty at Harvard. From 1958 - 1968, as chairman of Harvard's Landscape Architecture Department, Mr. Sasaki helped to revolutionize the study of landscape architecture by tying it to the larger issues of planning. He also pioneered the concept of interdisciplinary planning and design. Mr. Sasaki insisted that every project be put in its cultural, historical, geographical, environmental, social, and economic context.

The University was established through a treaty signed by The Aga Khan and the Presidents of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan. The treaty was subsequently ratified by the respective parliaments. An initial endowment was established with three US$5 million gifts – one for each University site – from The Aga Khan.

"That UCA will base its degree programmes at residential campuses is revolutionary in this region,” says S. Frederick Starr, Rector of UCA. “Its university towns will provide models of new ways of living in challenging climates and new models of community interaction. Thus, the campuses themselves become part of the education."

UCA will offer three academic programmes:

A Post-Graduate School of Development offering a Master of Arts degree in multiple areas that define the lives of mountain peoples. This umbrella structure will house a series of institute programmes. In all these institutes a common grounding in market economics, civil society, etc. will lead to programmes of study and research that culminate in a master’s degree within the Post-Graduate School of Development.

A School of Undergraduate Studies offering a Bachelor’s degree based on the liberal arts and sciences and designed to educate men and women for a wide range of leadership roles in government, business, education, culture, or the delivery of social services.

A School of Continuing Education offering non-degree courses in local languages to mid-career professionals, civil servants, businessmen and women, and leaders of civil society organizations. It will also offer programmes for older learners and the general public in practical areas relevant to economic and social development.

For more information, please contact:

Sam Pickens
Information Officer
Aga Khan Development Network
P.O. Box 2049
1211 Geneva 2
Tel: (+41 22) 909 7277
Mobile: 41 (0)78 661 8714
Fax: (+41 22) 909 7292