Visiting professor strives to educate Western architects

Egyptian scholar says Middle Eastern preferences overlooked in hospital designs

To advance an initiative aimed at educating Western architects about materials appropriate for Middle Eastern hospital construction, an Egyptian architecture professor visited Texas A&M in the summer of 2003 to research materials used in U.S. hospital construction.

While serving Texas A&M’s College of Architecture as a visiting professor, Ahmed Hussein Sherif, associate professor in the Department of Construction Engineering at the American University in Cairo, researched factors influencing the choice of materials used in operating room construction. Additionally, Sheriff evaluated the characteristics of the materials in terms of durability, ease of cleaning, cost, comfort, appearance and safety.

A partner and principal architect of Shafie-Sherif Architects in Cairo, the professor has designed many health care facilities across the Middle East region and is the author of several architectural publications. He hopes his research will aid in the design of future hospitals in the Middle East.

“In Egypt, we use many reference materials to select the most suitable finishes for hospitals,” Sherif said. “But most references are tailored to the western culture. They do not reflect the way we live and practice in our country.”

Sherif’s research project was two-fold, consisting of an evaluation of the hospital construction materials used in the United States and their performance as compared to those used in Egypt. The two sets of data will then be evaluated under varying conditions.

“Many architecture firms now work across the globe,” Sherif said. “Firms coming from all over are experimenting on our buildings. They build things according to their way of life, rather than the life of the people of the Arab countries.”

Sherif says his research will help firms get a better grasp on the Middle Eastern culture and the materials needed in that region. He also said aside from the benefit to the people of Egypt, the College of Architecture will also benefit from seeing differences in hospital design in developing countries.

Sherif earned a bachelor of science in architecture and a master’s in architectural engineering from Cairo University in Egypt. He completed a doctorate in architecture at the University of Michigan in 1988. He is an associate member of the American Institute of Architects and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Sherif said the results of his research will be made available to facility planners and architects in a number of regions.

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