From the basement of 65 to the balcony of 69

The American College in Paris – later The American University of Paris – began as a two-year college in the basement of the American Church at 65, quai d’Orsay. ACP was the brainchild of foreign-service diplomat Lloyd DeLamater. He sought to create an institution that educated students so that they graduated equipped to “transcend the bounds of narrow nationalisms.”

AUP has survived many challenges over 55 years, but it has never relinquished this vision, which was so critical then and is even more timely now. It is fitting that just two buildings removed from its original location, AUP has created a space for the best modern pedagogies and student-centered learning for its community of global explorers, today numbering over 1,100.

The fact that we could stay in the quartier of our founding and have this prestigious address on the Seine is very important to the AUP story. Along with all the other ‘risings up’ that have characterized our strategic plan, AUP Ascending – such as our heightened academic profile and the quality and reach of faculty research – this appearance of our grande école on the banks of the river is deeply symbolic.

Celeste Schenck President of The American University of Paris

Transforming the campus to transform student life 

In 2015, AUP launched an ambitious campus redevelopment process that included the consolidation and renovation of the Combes Student Life Center, Grenelle Teaching and Mentoring Center and other classroom spaces across the campus, all of which are now equipped with the latest teaching and learning technology.

In August 2017, AUP purchased a ten-story building on quai d’Orsay, directly behind the Combes Student Life Center. This new site provided an unprecedented opportunity to create our largest-ever campus facility.

There are new ways of learning that are a lot more interactive than in the past. We know that people are not going to be sitting silently in a reading room working individually, they are going to want to collaborate

David Horn Director of Campus Planning and Facilities

Bringing it All Together

Following a complete renovation, the combined Student Life and Learning Commons opened in March 2019. It offers over 3,500 square meters dedicated to learning, teaching, study, research, student initiatives and campus life. The two buildings are connected at ground level, allowing students to move freely between the learning side and the student-life side of the complex. Between the two buildings sits an elegant reading room, named in honor of President Celeste M. Schenck, with a glass roof providing natural light and a view onto a luxuriant vertical garden. The garden was made possible thanks to the generosity of the classes of the 1970s.

Throughout the Learning Commons, various student-facing departments – such as the AUP Library and the Center for Academic, Career and Experiential Advising – are complemented by study rooms, conference spaces and IT and multimedia support.

Higher up in the building, faculty-centric facilities such as the Teaching and Learning Center widen the appeal beyond the student body, as does the building’s research center: the George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention.

New technology-rich classrooms are designed to foster faculty–student interaction, while the Omid & Gisel Kordestani Rooftop Conference Center, complete with breathtaking views toward Invalides and the Grand Palais, hosts public events, allowing faculty to collaborate beyond AUP’s campus.


Our Flagship building on the Seine 

The Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons – situated at the heart of Paris’s 7th arrondissement – embodies our commitment to providing a student-centered, transformative and career-enabling education. Thanks to the generosity of the global AUP community, this jewel in the crown of AUP’s campus has now been officially inaugurated.

The culmination of more than three years of work – and the pinnacle of our five-year campus development plan – the Learning Commons brings together academic resources and services in an entirely new integrated way, permitting students to easily access everything they need to succeed throughout their time at the University and beyond.