Lebanon's Master Architect
by Victor A. Khoueiry
Pierre El Khoury is one of the best known of Lebanese architects. His career of over five decades has produced some 200 diverse projects. While it is not easy to find a single theory to illuminate his body of work, one can understand it and distinguish it from that of his contemporaries simply through observation.
After studying at Beaux Arts schools in Beirut and Paris, Pierre El Khoury became one of those fortunate architects whose career took off soon after graduation. The economic boom that Lebanon experienced in the 1950s and 60s lead to a frenetic increase in construction which encouraged all manner of architectural experimentation.
According to Lebanese architect and professor Georges Arbid, El Khoury's early projects "...testified to a quest for modernity, providing rational answers to existing conditions. This attitude, which is characteristic of his generation of architects ... produced a remarkable local version of modern architecture."
At the same time, though, El Khoury had internalized the influence from his schooling. He explains: "The classical culture I learned at the Beaux-Arts taught me to manipulate form and the balance of volumes and also gave me a feel for right and wrong in a composition."
In his more recent work, El Khoury has ventured into the "postmodern" — but without reverting to the artificially stylistic references to the past that often characterize postmodern projects. >>>