Restoration of the Mar Girgis Church and Roman Tower
Award of Merit

Owner The Patriarchate of Alexandria and Whole Africa
Lead Design Firm and Structural Engineer Penelis Consulting Engineers SA
Architect and Restorer Awad Associates
Contractor The Arab Contractors

The structural restoration and strengthening of the Mar Girgis Church’s rotunda fortifies the unreinforced masonry structure against static loads and earthquakes. Built at the beginning of the 20th century on the ruins of a previous church, the rotunda sits on the three-story, nearly 2,000-year-old Roman Tower. The repaired tower was converted to an ecclesiastical museum. 

The $6.5-million project also included architectural restoration and new MEP installations. Developed to assess the masonry walls, advanced, nonlinear analysis software helped to restore the “genuineness and texture” of the historic building and monument. For example, the rotunda’s external post-tensioning accounted for the dome’s thrusting outward forces. The Greek Ministry of Culture trained the team to refurbish wall paintings by the 19th-century artist Parthenis.

Breaking ground two years after the Arab Spring began, the project was affected by two different regime changes but ultimately finished on time and on budget. Much of the project team was from Greece, a country that has good relations with Egypt. As a result, the Orthodox Patriarchate trusted the Egyptian contractor, resulting in Christians and Muslims peacefully working side by side, notes the project team.

Related Article: Global Best Projects Awards 2017