Design Rooted in Heritage

Spring 2023
Architects are often called upon to make a mark, to showcase their artistic muscle by bending and shaping the environment. But for Carl Gerges (BArch ’11), scarring the land in such a way is antithetical to his work. “My mission is to not only preserve what already exists but also to highlight it, ” he says. In a time when we are asked to think about sustainability and cultural heritage, Gerges has his answer, and he is building his architectural firm around it.

Many know Gerges from one of the region’s most successful indie rock bands, Mashrou’ Leila. They may not know he started at AUB as an architecture student in the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. “AUB changed everything for me. Spending time in the green spaces, historic buildings of the campus, sitting in the architecture classes with the old stools and drawing tables was magical, ” he says. Though he would go on to an over decade-long career in music with his classmates from AUB, his background in the art of design remained a part of his DNA.

Today, Gerges is an up-and-coming designer in his field. He recently established his own architecture firm, Carl Gerges Architects, and has logged significant accomplishments in just a few years. His most recent design of the CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort in Batroun, Lebanon, has garnered praise from various architectural magazines, and he was named one of GQ Middle East’s Men of the Year in 2022. “Architecture was one of my childhood dreams, and I’m really getting to live it right now. I’m truly grateful, ” he says.

Gerges’s designs evoke Mediterranean landscapes and draw from the cultural heritage of Lebanon. He weaves botanical landscapes into his architectural work, staying true to the idea that the natural environment and architecture can work together rather than in competition. “My architecture is very contextual. Harmony with the surroundings is really important to me. From the first day of design, the landscape is taken into consideration. This is not common with all architects, ” he says. In his design and building of the CAPO Boutique Hotel and Resort, this intention is clear. The natural topography is sewn into the design, exemplified by how he creates pockets of moments that bring the outdoors in.

At a time when many can only envision a bleak future for Lebanon, Gerges is designing works that challenge assumptions about what is still possible.