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Denver Firm Designs New Center for Women in Afghanistan

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The International Center for Afghan Women’s Economic Development will become the new home for the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, several other nongovernmental organizations and a university program focusing on women’s economic development.
The center, designed by Denver-based Burkett Design, will be located on the new campus of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF).

Courtesy of Burkett Design
From left: Lee Sanderson of the U.S. Dept. of Defenses Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, Leslie M. Schweitzer from Friends of the American University of Afghanistan, and Amy Burkett of Denvers Burkett Design attend the groundbreaking for the International Center for Afghan Womens Economic Development in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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The U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council is a public-private partnership created in 2002 by then-President George W. Bush and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and housed at Georgetown University. It connects the U.S. and Afghan governments, the private sector, academia and non-governmental organizations to develop and implement initiatives in support of Afghan women and children.

Amy Burkett, principal of Denver’s Burkett Design, was  joined by U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crocker, USAID Mission Director Ken Yamashita and American University of Afghanistan President C. Michael Smith on February 2 for the ground breaking for a new International Center for Afghan Women’s Economic Development in Kabul.

 “As one can imagine, extraordinary security concerns were weighed when we designed the facility – such as trying to maintain an open and invigorating campus while keeping it safe, secure and not feeling like a prison,” says Burkett. “We had to determine where to put up guard towers around the campus, as well as emergency provisions if basic security were ever compromised.”

The center is being constructed by Technologists Inc., Rosslyn, Va., an international construction and engineering company, and, when completed, will include 10 classrooms, seminar rooms, high-tech audio-visual facilities, a resource center, computer labs and a 200-person auditorium. The $5-million project is funded by a grant to the Friends of the AUAF from the U.S. Dept. of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations.

Burkett says that the AUAF conducted an intensive national search to find an international women-owned architectural firm that had already accomplished work in the Central Asia/Middle East region. “We had the international requirements, company values and experience they were looking for,” says Burkett.

Burkett Design has offices in Denver and Dubai and will soon be opening an office in Saudi Arabia. The firm has projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Ethiopia. Burkett spends about 25% of her time out of the country and manages Colorado and U.S. projects the rest of the time.

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