American University School of International Service Washington, DC


How can we design a building that inspires students to dream? This charge—articulated by the dean of the country’s largest foreign service program—guided the design team for this new building on the American University campus.

Serving as a symbol of the school’s tradition of global service, the LEED Gold certified building provides a vibrant setting for teaching, research and public dialogue. Design strategies, including on-site generation of renewable energy, Cradle to Cradle material specifications, and abundant fresh air and daylight, were developed and prioritized in close collaboration with the School’s students, faculty and staff to serve as pedagogical tools capable of demonstrating the highest degrees of environmental responsibility. The sunlit atrium provides a welcome meeting place for the School and its visitors as they work towards social justice, the eradication of poverty, and world peace. Global connections are celebrated on the building exterior as well, where the pattern of the perforated frieze is inspired by the Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion map of the world.

Cradle to Cradle Certified products include Shaw Industries carpeting and MechoShade window treatments.

According to Dr. Paul Wapner, Professor of Global Environmental Politics, American University SIS: “My colleagues + I love the SIS building, and this love grows as we increasingly inhabit our new home. As you may also know, SIS has a new Dean, James Goldgeier, who is keen on using the building for pedagogical purposes as well as for reaching out to the Washington policy community.”


Classrooms, offices, student cafe, underground parking and a library expansion


75,000 square feet above grade


Completed in 2010


William McDonough + Partners, Design Architect
Quinn Evans | Architects, Architect of Record
AU Office of the University Architect, Interior Designer
Taylor Engineering, Design Mechanical Engineer
GHT Limited, Mechanical Engineer of Record
McMullan Associates, Structural Engineer
Loisos + Ubbelohde Associates, Daylighting Consultant
Delon Hampton & Associates, Civil Engineer
Sustainable Design Consulting, LEED Consultant
PEG, Fire Code and Suppression Consultant
Whiting-Turner, General Contractor
Conceptual Site Furnishings, Metal Panel Fabrication