The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) will name its new headquarters in Belmont, Mass., after Dr. Vartan Gregorian, President of the philanthropic foundation Carnegie Corporation of New York, fulfilling the request of the building’s principle benefactors, Edward and Pamela Avedisian of Lexington, Mass. The new building’s official name will be the NAASR Vartan Gregorian Building.
Gregorian has had a distinguished career as an academic, scholar, historian, philanthropist, and visionary. Born in Tabriz, Iran, Gregorian received his elementary education in Iran and his secondary education at Collège Arménian in Beirut, Lebanon. He was awarded a PhD in history and humanities from Stanford in 1964. After an academic career spanning two decades, Gregorian served as president of The New York Public Library from 1980 to 1989. In 1997, Gregorian assumed the presidency of one of the country’s oldest grantmaking foundations, Carnegie Corporation of New York. His philanthropic work and scholarly accomplishments have been recognized with more than 70 honorary degrees and dozens of significant awards. He is known for his leadership in support of democracy, human rights, and civic engagement, and his efforts have been recognized with honors from numerous nonprofit organizations.
“Vartan Gregorian embodies the values at the heart of NAASR’s mission. He has dedicated his entire life to educational advancement and the pursuit of knowledge, engaging in public service throughout his career, and working to better the human condition. We are grateful that we can acknowledge and memorialize his tremendous accomplishments by naming the institution’s new headquarters the NAASR Vartan Gregorian Building,” said Edward Avedisian, a NAASR Board member.
“I am overwhelmed by this most generous and selfless offer and accept it with humility, and with gratitude,” said Gregorian. “I thank NAASR for bringing Armenian history, culture, and values to life through its programming and collections, now visible and accessible to anyone.”
“We are proud to recognize Gregorian’s distinguished life of service and dedication through our new global center,” said Yervant Chekijian, Chairman of the Board. “He is an inspiration for generations to come. We are also sincerely grateful to the Avedisians for their generosity and vision.”
NAASR’s new headquarters, designed by a talented team from the architectural, design and engineering firm of Symmes, Maini and McKee, led by Ara Krafian, will be a stunning three-story building with a soaring glass façade, allowing natural light to illuminate the interior. A variety of Armenian features are incorporated into the design, including a hand-carved wooden door, which a master artisan in Armenia is carving, and an Armenian Alphabet Wall.
The general contractor, Altair Construction, anticipates completion by the fall of 2019. “We invite everyone to attend our Grand Opening next year on November 1 through 3,” said Chekijian.
The building will have many welcoming spaces for the public to gather as well as a secure environment for NAASR’s rare book Mardigian Library, one of the top five Armenian libraries open to the public in the diaspora. It will soon total 40,000 books, with some dating back to the 1600s, and rare periodicals dating back to the 1800s, as well as the unique personal archives of prominent scholars, early Armenian-Americans, and religious leaders.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has given full support with a capital grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Cultural Facilities Fund and MassDevelopment of $225,000 awarded in 2017, for installation of an elevator, other accessibility features, and fire suppression.
The NAASR staff is working in temporary offices at the AGBU-New England headquarters on Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown and continuing its programming and bookstore on-site and online at www.naasr.org.
Founded in 1955, NAASR is one of the world’s leading resources for advancing Armenian Studies, connecting scholars of Armenian Studies and the public, and preserving and enriching Armenian culture, history, and identity for future generations.
To date, NAASR has financial commitments for more than $6 million of the $6.5 million needed to build the new center. The nonprofit invites the community to become a lasting part of this inspiring center, with opportunities to contribute at all levels.
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