American University of Central Asia

  • FIRM

    HMA2 Architects


    American University of Central Asia

  • AREA

    200,000 sq.ft.





Associated Firms: AKF Group (MEP), Thornton Tomasetti (Structure), Fisher Marantz Stone (Lighting), Ardak (Architect and Engineer, Bishkek), Kent Inshaat (Construction Manager)


Design team:

Henry Myerberg (Principal-in-Charge), Christine Sheridan (Project Architect), Miranda Danusugondo (Project Manager), Owen Huang (Architect), ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY1,600COST PER SQ FT$125.00CITATIONLouis I. Kahn CitationFEATURED IN2017 Architectural Portfolio Foley (Designer), Bryan Jug (Architect), Aida Sulova (Designer), Tucker Viemeister and Alexey Lysogorov (Graphic Design), Karen Davidov (Designer)


Where the former Soviet Union’s eastern border met the ancient Silk Road is the new campus for the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The architecture, inspired by local nomadic traditions of mobility and hospitality, supports an American style education.

The design’s open and flexible spaces are densely woven to generate a free exchange of ideas and high energy. At the same time, AUCA comfortably accommodates its 1600 students in 125 square feet per student, which is half the median area per student at American colleges as reported by American School and University.

Students inhabit the diverse campus spaces like nomads with iPads. Faculty and administrators migrate from open office suites to communal banks of quiet meeting and study rooms. The furniture is nomadic too. Tables and seating on wheels beckon anyone to freely stage spaces.

The architecture fits its environment and culture. Pitched roofs echo nearby alpine mountains. The façade patterns recall native rugs, called shyrdaks. Central skylights operate like the crown of a yurt. Rocks gathered from the construction site clad an arcade to say “AUCA.” The building’s geothermal system for heating and cooling was a first in Kyrgyzstan.