King Abdullah University of Science & Technology

King Abdullah University of Science & Technology

A LEED Platinum research university for Saudi Arabia’s post-oil economy.

KAUST is an international, graduate-level research university located on the eastern shore of the Red Sea. Environmental stewardship and sustainability are critical components of this new university's research agenda, campus planning, and operation. AEI provided mechanical, electrical, piping/plumbing, and technology (MEP/IT) planning and design, lighting design, sustainability, energy modeling, project management, and process engineering services for the 27-building, 6.5 million square foot campus, which houses two million square feet of lab space. R&D magazine named KAUST “Lab of the Year.”

KAUST’s labs provide support for cutting-edge instrumentation and one of the world’s fastest supercomputers, innovative research spaces, a virtual reality visualization lab, an advanced nanofabrication lab, genomic and proteomics labs for DNA sequencing, and other highly advanced scientific investigation environments. AEI co-developed the design criteria used to build the flexible labs for all research buildings on campus and was responsible for the MEP/IT design for specific lab fit-outs and all research support space in the lab buildings.


Thuwal, SA


  • HOK - Architect

LEED Status

LEED Platinum

Building Size

6,500,000 square feet


  • 2013 SustainABILITY Leadership Award - Citation of Merit
  • 2011 Laboratory of the Year Award
  • 2011 Honor Awards, "Serve" Merit Award, KAUST Library
  • 2010 Top Ten LEED Projects, Number 1 Ranking
  • 2011 Design Awards - Architecture Over 50,000 sf, KAUST Library
  • 2011 Architecture Award, KAUST Library
  • 2010 International Architecture Award
  • 2011 Sustainability Award, KAUST Library
  • 2011 Library Building Award, KAUST Library
  • 2011 Sustain Award Building of the Year, International Prize, KAUST Library
  • 2011 Design Awards - Devine Detail, KAUST Library
  • 2010 Green Good Design Architecture Award
  • 2010 Top Ten Green Project
  • 2010 International Sustainable Campus Award, Construction Category, KAUST Library
  • 2010 Honor Award, Architecture Category, KAUST Library

Designed with maximum flexibility and easy maintenance in mind, the labs contain partial interstitial walkways, high bay areas and sections of modular utilities that are pre-wired and pre-plumbed for easy connectivity.

The campus implements a 4,000-kW photovoltaic array, high-performance/high-efficiency MEP systems with air pre-treatment and heat recovery, a solar thermal hot water system, high-performance building skins, high-efficiency water features, water reclamation and on-site water treatment, projected to realize 78% reduction in water use and 25% reduction in energy use, relative to a LEED® 2.2 baseline. Home to four interdisciplinary, industry-collaborative research institutes, KAUST opened in 2009, admitting 2,000 graduate students.

AEI’s design of low energy building systems and energy analysis of each campus building have been extremely important to the project’s overall success.” - William Odell, FAIA, LEED AP, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, Inc.

KAUST’s modular labs are comprised of two million square feet spread out over four buildings that are connected by a pedestrian spine.

years, design and construction

Project Leaders