SArD Earns NAAB Accreditation for its Bachelor of Architecture

The BArch at LAU’s School of Architecture and Design is the first in Lebanon to be accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

By Dana K. Haffar

The NAAB accreditation takes SArD to a global level, enabling its graduates, who are eligible, to work in the US, sit for the licensing exam, and enhance their job prospects in the Gulf and worldwide.

The School of Architecture and Design (SArD) has been granted official accreditation for its Bachelor of Architecture by the American National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), the only agency recognized by registration boards in US jurisdictions to accredit professional degree programs in architecture.

The accreditation, states NAAB, “is evidence that a collegiate architecture program has met standards essential to produce graduates who have a solid educational foundation and are capable of leading the way in innovation, emerging technologies, and in anticipating the health, safety, and welfare needs of the public.”

This places SArD’s BArch graduates on a par with their peers in American universities, and qualifies them to work for international firms in the Gulf and globally – which goes toward expanding the School’s academic and professional footprint beyond Lebanon, a pillar of LAU’s Third Strategic Plan.

SArD’s achievement, said LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra, is testament to the pioneering role LAU continues to play in higher education regionally, despite all the challenges. Dr. Jabbra thanked the American NAAB Committee for its great confidence in LAU and praised the members and faculty of the School who worked hard toward attaining this recognition. “This represents a milestone in the long process that the School of Architecture and Design has engaged in, to achieve the highest standards in the profession,” he said.

In turn, Provost George E. Nasr expressed his pride in this unprecedented achievement in Lebanon, which, he said, was all the more significant in light of the difficulties facing the higher education sector in the country. It is the start of a new phase in SArD’s history, he added, that will no doubt be marked with many more successes.

Dean Elie Haddad confirmed that the accreditation takes the School to a global level, enabling its graduates, who are eligible, to work in the US, sit for the licensing exam, and enhance their job prospects in the Gulf and worldwide. He further clarified that although some schools in the region have received NAAB ‘certification’, only few have received full NAAB accreditation, and LAU’s SArD is the first to become accredited nationally.

Earning NAAB accreditation, revealed Chair of the Department of Architecture and Interior Design Maroun El-Daccache, has taken close to eight years of systematic work, since the School submitted its application in 2012. This long process entailed three accrediting visits, which included meetings with Dr. Jabbra, Dr. Nasr and the School’s administration, and a thorough assessment of the program, followed by recommendations for improvement. The final visit, which took place in November 2019, successfully concluded the process.

To meet NAAB standards, added Dr. El-Daccache, the School and its faculty worked on developing all the program components, addressing the theoretical foundations and their application in design, right through to issues related to the technical aspects and their integration in the design projects, such as environmental systems, building construction, codes and standards.

The rigorous process has been a unique and edifying experience for SArD that has led to the advancement of the School as a whole, said Dr. Haddad. “We have learned a lot from this collective effort. It is a team effort that cannot be handled by any individual alone and could not have been accomplished without the support of the faculty and staff, and last but not least, without the work of the students which provided the final gauge for this program’s success. It gives us great pride to have reached this level of excellence.”

Dr. Haddad added: “The rigorous requirements of NAAB not only translated into recommendations for curricular improvements, but also into guidelines for facilities development, which prompted the School to expand its presence on Beirut campus, with a new building, Gezairi Hall, dedicated to house all of its programs, due to open in September 2020.”