In 2016, philanthropists K. George and Dr. Carolann Najarian donated a semi-constructed building located in the Dzoragyugh district of Yerevan to the American University of Armenia (AUA). The following year, the University was awarded a generous grant of $999,000 by the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) unit of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to construct, renovate, and furnish the site to accommodate AUA students.
Located in Yerevan’s ethnographic-cultural district around the corner from the Sergei Parajanov Museum, the AUA Student Residence overlooks the Hrazdan gorge and river which weave through the city’s landscape. With striking architecture reminiscent of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the facility was designed in constructive collaboration with NST Architects in order to promote student engagement, collaborative decision-making, leadership opportunities, and ideals of independence. Under the AUA Department of Facilities and Services’ effective leadership, the construction was completed in a successful and timely manner by Care Building Services, with the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing aspects implemented by Consel and Zvezda.
The AUA Student Residence will house 56 students from Armenia’s regions and from abroad. With an added floor, the completed building has four floors and 28 rooms, each room containing an individual heating and cooling unit, refrigerator, storage, and a private bathroom. The facility was constructed with the inclusion of all students in mind — ramps, an elevator, and large bathrooms on the first floor ensure that students with disabilities can easily navigate the building.
Through communal living and engagement, the AUA Student Residence will serve as a platform that fosters sharing of knowledge and appreciation of cultural differences among resident international and local students. Designated spaces for professional activities and social gatherings provide a well-rounded experience, with a lounge area, kitchen, and study room on the ground floor. The facility is equipped with wireless internet access, laundry machines, and private and communal balconies. In line with AUA’s sustainable values, the Student Residence building is topped with solar panels which generate energy to support the water-heating system. Furthermore, not only does the building have 24-hour security, but doors to rooms are equipped with an access control system and can only be opened via ID cards.
Adjacent to the Student Residence is another stunning building donated by the Najarian family. In coming years, this site will become a Center for Social Entrepreneurship where student residents and others can engage in innovative projects aimed at development and community service, thanks again to the support of USAID/ASHA.
“This development is significant to the advancement of our University as it will allow us to attract more students from around the world and the regions of Armenia, diversifying our student body and bringing in a greater variety of experiences and ideas, broadening the scope for on-campus collaboration,” AUA President Dr. Karin Markides remarks on the new facility.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the AUA Student Residence is the entirety of the space itself, where students have the opportunity to grow alongside their peers in a safe and secure environment. The facility aims to address the needs of AUA’s growing international student body by providing holistic living-learning programs and communities that typically exist in U.S. higher education institutions. Communal balconies grant students the space to gather with their classmates and reflect on their days, sharing their ideas as the sun sets over the Hrazdan river. These seemingly inconsequential moments have the capacity to shed light on identities, values, and aspirations. This addition to the University’s infrastructure will promote democratic values — diversity, inclusion, gender equality, community building, and student engagement and empowerment. In such challenging times for the Armenian nation, it is more important than ever for the future leaders of Armenia to have access to such spaces, through which they will find hope in the collective future and recognize their role in it.
The AUA community is grateful to USAID/ASHA for its support in this milestone development in the University’s history.
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.