architecture student Waleed Al Sulami and architect Zuhair Fayez

CAP student enjoys meeting renowned architect Fayez

'I never imagined that I would have the honor to meet him personally'

October 18, 2017

Waleed Al Sulami, a sophomore studying architecture at CU Denver, got to meet one of his architectural inspirations when CU alumnus Zuhair Fayez recently visited our campus.

Having spent several decades in the architectural business – as the founder and president of Zuhair Fayez Partnership, the largest architecture/engineering/management firm in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) – Fayez often makes note of how much he appreciates the top-quality education he received from CU. He serves on the College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) Advisory Board and makes regular trips to CU Denver.

On this recent trip, he also made time to visit with CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell and Al Sulami. Horrell was part of a CU delegation, including President Bruce D. Benson and First Lady Marcy Benson, that traveled to the KSA and Qatar last spring to meet with leaders and alumni, including Fayez, living in the region.

Fayez’s connection to CU Denver a major draw

In the meeting here between accomplished professional and ambitious student, Al Sulami explained that he was aware Fayez had studied at CU, but also that he knows people who have worked for the Zuhair Fayez Partnership.

Al Sulami is from Jeddah, the same city in which Fayez resides. Al Sulami’s father owns a construction business, which Al Sulami hopes to join when he returns to KSA. Al Sulami is emulating the educational path of Fayez (a dual-degree holder in structural engineering and architecture); he enrolled at CU Denver after completing an engineering degree in KSA.

CU Denver student Waleed Al Sulami, architect Zuhair Fayez and CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell
On a recent trip to visit CU Denver, renowned Middle East architect Zuhair Fayez (center) visited with architecture student Waleed Al Sulami (who, like Fayez, is from Jeddah, KSA) and CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell.

“I never imagined that I would have the honor to meet him personally,” Al Sulami said of Fayez. Fayez’s connection to CU Denver was a major factor in his decision to come here, Al Sulami said, adding “then I learned the strength of the university in this specialty and I was impressed by the amount of projects happening here as well as the strong credentials from international universities (held by the faculty).”

The men enjoyed a discussion about the merits of using traditional design elements, which turned into a lively conversation about the importance of designing for communities. Fayez, who holds an honorary doctorate from CU, also shared a story about a house he designed for an appreciative uncle 43 years ago. Fayez explained that it was a simple, yet successful, project because it created a very livable environment.

Fayez is co-founder and Board Chair of Dar Al-Hekma College, the first private not-for-profit college for women in Saudi Arabia. He is also developer of the Fayez International Exchange program at CU Denver.

A resource for students, young professionals

Chancellor Horrell noted that it was a pleasure watching the interaction between Al Sulami and Fayez – the wise master sharing stories and advice with an eager apprentice. “Zuhair mentioned how much he enjoys being a resource for students and young professionals,” she said.

It’s just another way CU Denver students receive the real-world experiences and guidance that set them on their way to success.