The Building

The Kevorkian Center is housed in its own building, located on Washington Square in the heart of New York University’s vibrant academic and intellectual community. Through the generosity of the Hagop Kevorkian Fund, construction for our building began in the fall of 1970 and was completed in 1972. Designed by the renowned architect Philip Johnson, it features a sleek, modern exterior. 


The Kevorkian Center’s lobby holds a transplanted collection of furnishings from a Damascene house built in 1797 by the Quwatli family, including a titled fountain and floor, moldings, and four sets of detailed door panels.  The house remained in the family’s possession until the mid-1920s and at one time, even served as the British Consulate to Syria. In the early 1930s, it was sold to the Armenian-American dealer and collector Hagop Kevorkian who donated a part of the house’s interior to our Center. Under the direction of New York University architect Joseph J. Roberto, the Quawtli furnishings were painstakingly reconstructed. The stones, tiles, and woodwork, which had all been dismantled, numbered and coded, prior to their shipment from Damascus to New York were laboriously fitted into the present place by restoration expert Ichizo Yamamoto. Other furnishings from the Quwatli home are housed in the Damascene Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also donated by Hagop Kevorkian.

Adjacent to our lobby is the Richard Ettinghausen Library. Named in honor of the late art historian who co-founded the Kevorkian Center in 1966 with Middle East historian R. Bayly Winder, it is a non-circulating Middle East Reference library, which houses a rich collection of rare books and manuscripts as well as a magnificent mihrab from the Quawtli house. Today, the Ettinghausen Library serves as the venue for our numerous public events. It is the epicenter where our faculty, students, and visitors come together to contribute to scholarly knowledge, public understanding and awareness of the Middle East. 

Our building’s other facilities include a computer language lab, a seminar and screening rooms, as well as the offices of faculty and staff of both the Kevorkian Center as well as the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.