THE DECLARATION OF EXPERTS

Stop the Highway, Build the “Fouad Boutros” Park

We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who are also be experts in the fields of urban planning, transportation engineering, planning law, urban sociology, architecture, heritage conservation, and real estate development. We have carefully reviewed the Fouad Boutros Axis project (Decree 8228 – May 2012) and the supporting studies presented by the Beirut municipality as well as the observations and proposals presented by different groups from Lebanese civil society. We conclude that the Municipality should immediately cancel the project because it is destructive and obsolete from a variety of perspectives.

From a transport engineering point of view, the solution is not only ineffective in solving existing traffic problems, but it will also generate new problems for the neighborhood. In general, the solution adopts an outdated approach to mobility that has proven not to work in other settings in Beirut and around the world. The Municipality of Beirut is urged to learn from the mistakes of other cities, which are now paying steep bills to undo damages that were caused by such heavy-handed projects that neglected traffic management and public transit.

From an urban planning point of view, the project destroys the continuity of the neighborhood, the architectural heritage of this historical quarter, and the environment and landscape. It will also destroy the economic vitality of the area. There is nothing redeeming about its impact. As for the assurance by the Municipality that the project will not destroy any “listed heritage building”, we regard this as a thinly disguised evasion of the fact that a cohesive cluster of old houses will be eradicated, regardless of their individual heritage value. And anyhow, rare are the buildings in Beirut that are actually listed in accordance with the obsolete law of 1932.

From a legal point of view, we believe that the fiscal and administrative concerns that are raised by the municipality to move forward with the project are focused on procedure and not on substance. The city’s future should follow the needs and aspirations of its current citizens not the legal procedures of defunct public projects.

Above all, we reject the Fouad Boutros Axis proposal on the basis that it does not respect the values of civil society and its rights to the city, including the right to take part in the decision making about the environment in which citizens live.

We trust that it is possible to adopt much more economical strategies, by intervening on the existing road infrastructures, which should be optimized and improved rather than extended.  Furthermore, we strongly believe that investment in the management of mobility and public transportation would be more important than another road and remains the only long term, sustainable solution to reduce traffic congestion. We also positively view the urban planning proposals presented by the civil society, especially the proposal to turn this public land into a public park. However, our highest recommendation is to open up the process of decision-making about this site and about the city’s future, to include direct representation and participation from its citizens and civil society groups. As concerned citizens, we uphold the principle that a substantial public investment of about $70M deserves an informed public debate, especially when we know that more effective solutions can be managed.

Beirut is witnessing a gradual degradation of its urban environment, choked by traffic, noise, pollution and insane construction frenzy. It is short of greens areas and public spaces, lacks the services and amenities that should make contemporary city life simpler, calmer, more fluid and desirable. In such a dire situation, Beirut deserves sensitive actions and a complete shift of policies. Rather than the car, it is the wellbeing and the quality of life of citizens that must again be at the centre of the Municipality’s urban policies.

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Salim Abi Aad
Highway Design Specialist

Samir Ajouz
Transport Advisor

Howayda Al-Harithy
Professor – Historian
Department of Architecture and Design, AUB

Abir al-Tayeb
Research Assistant – MUPP/MUD Program
Department of Architecture and Design – AUB

George Arbid
Architect – Co-founder of the Arab Centre for Architecture
Associate Professor, AUB

Naji Assi
Architect
Senior Lecturer, AUB

Antoine Atallah
Architect – Urban Designer

Walid Bakhos
Architect- Planner

Karim Malek Basbous
Architect, Ph.D, professor of Architecture and Urbanism, Ecole Polytechnique
Editor of Journal “Le Visiteur”

Nadine Bekdache
Graphic designer and urbanist

Joe Bitar
Architect & Urban Planner
Managing Partner, 4B Architects – Architecture, Engineering and Urban Planning

Hiba Bou Akar
Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Middle Eastern Studies
Hampshire College, USA

Yasmina Chami
Architect – Urban Designer
Faculty member, Department of Architecture, LAU

Bassel Dabboussi
Real Estate Development Manager

Michael Davie
University professor – Urban Geography
Université Francois-Rabelais de Tours (France) 

Habib Debs
Architect – Urban planner

Naila El Hage
Senior Transport Engineer – Project Manager

Mona El-Hallak
Architect

Feras El Zarwi
Transportation Engineering Consultant at SETS International
M.S. Transportation Engineering – University of California at Berkeley

Ibrahim el Zein
Transport Engineer

Mona Fawaz
Associate professor
FEA-ARD- Graduate Urban Planning and Design Programs at AUB

Youssef Fawaz
Transportation engineer

Imad Gemayel
Architect and landscape planner
Professor at ALBA and AUB

Eric Goodfield
Visiting assistant professor
Political Studies and Public administration, AUB

Elie Haddad
Professor in architecture
Dean of the School of Architecture & Design at LAU

Mazen Haidar
Conservation Architect
Vice-Director, School of Architecture, Alba (Balamand)

Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj
Architect – Planner – Urban Heritage Expert
Member of the Steering CommitteeFor the Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Mirna Hanna
Ph.D
Architect – Planner

Mona Harb
Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Politics
Department of Architecture and Design, AUB

Ahmad Haroun
Transport Engineer

Angela Harutyunyan
Assistant professor, Fine Arts and Art History, AUB

Mohammad Hashem
Transport Engineer

Joseph Hojaiban
Engineer–Architect. Urbanist

Ayman Issa
Transport Engineer

Abdul-Halim Jabr
Architect- Urban Design Consultant, former professor at AUB

Lyne Jabri
Architect – Urban Designer

Zeinab Khanafer
Structural Engineer

Jihad Kiame
Architect – Planner

Laetitia Kraus
Development Economist-Planner

Carole Levesque
Architect – former professor at AUB
Professor of History and Theory of Design,
University of Quebec in Montreal, School of Design

Ruby Mahdi
Transport Planner – Engineer

Yasmine Mahdi
CEng MBA
Director, Transport & Infrastructure

Chucri Maalouf
Architect – Planner

Nathalie Mahfoud
Architect, consultant

Jala Makzoumi
Landscape Architect, Ecological Planning Consultant
Associate Faculty, AUB

Rawad Massoud
V4 Advisors,  Executive Managing Director

Dina Mneimneh
Architect

Karim Nader
Architect – lecturer at AUB

Jana Nakhal
Urban designer

Maha Nasrallah
Architect – lecturer at AUB

Raja Noujaim
Construction and Infrastructure Quantity Surveyor & Quality controller
Contracting legal & administrative officer

Elisabetta Pietrostefani
Cultural Heritage and Development Specialist – GAIA Heritage

Salim S. Rouhana
Urban Development specialist
Middle East and Africa – The World Bank

David Sacca
Architect – Humanitarian consultant

Abir Saksouk-Sasso
Architect and Urban Planner

Gregoire Serof
Architect

Nehmat Sfeir
Architect and urban planner
Professor, school of Architecture, ALBA

Catherine Shadarevian
Transport Engineer

Ismael Sheikh Hassan
Architect – Planner

Dounia Salame
M.Sc. student – Urban studies 

Hashim Sarkis
Aga Khan Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism in Muslim Societies
Harvard University, Graduate School of Design

Muriel Skaf
Project associate, urban development
World Economic Forum – USA

Jad Tabet
Architect
Member of UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Grégory Taousson
Architecte DPLG – M.Arch

Léon Telvizian
University professor
Architect-Urbanist

Alain Wakim
Architect- Urban Planner

Riad Yared
Architect

Georges Zouain
Principal – GAIA Heritage

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