Rising from the Rubble: Beirut, the Phoenix of the Mediterranean

February 28, 2024

6:00 p.m. EST


Title: Rising from the Rubble: Beirut, the Phoenix of the Mediterranean

Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2024, 6:00 p.m.

Location: Carleton University, Azrieli Theatre Room 101

Speaker: Joe Kallasarchitect, cultural heritage specialist, PhD candidate in the Department of Architectural Engineering, Penn State University


Free and open to the public. This is an in-person lecture, not available online. Refreshments will be served.


Spanning a history of 5,000 years, Beirut has often been likened to the Phoenix for its recurring destruction and rebirth, recorded seven times over. This presentation delves into the remarkable resilience of Beirut, with a particular focus on the aftermath of the devastating 2020 explosion. It highlights how the deployment of innovative tools has facilitated a faster-than-expected recovery, especially amid the severe economic crisis Lebanon has faced since 2019.


At the heart of this narrative is the introduction of a digital methodology designed for the rapid assessment of historical structures post-disaster, with a particular focus on 3D image-based modeling. This technology not only accelerates the recovery process but also significantly enhances decision-making during such critical times.


Additionally, the presentation will examine the restoration of two heritage buildings from the 1850s, illustrating the pivotal role of technological advancements in supporting Beirut’s ongoing reconstruction efforts. Ultimately, this talk aims to highlight the indispensable role of digital tools and community collaboration in the preservation and revitalization of Beirut’s cultural heritage, thereby continuing its legacy as the Phoenix of the Mediterranean.

About Joe Kallas

Joe Kallas is an architect and cultural heritage specialist with significant experience in disaster response and reconnaissance missions. As an expert member of CIPA Heritage Documentation and a member of ICOMOS Lebanon, he effectively utilizes digital technology to support recovery efforts in post-disaster areas. Also serving as a UNESCO international expert, Kallas contributes to heritage preservation in disaster-affected areas such as Beirut, Ukraine, and Syria. He is currently a PhD candidate at Penn State University, where he focuses on integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning with 3D structural assessments to improve disaster reconnaissance and enhance building resilience.


This lecture is co-sponsored by:


Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism

Canadian Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Carleton University College of the Humanities

Carleton Immersive Media Studio (CIMS)

Penn State University Department of Architectural Engineering