The benefits of campus life—the sense of inhabiting an academic community, the chance meetings that evolve into intellectual explorations, the shared experiences that help cement pluralistic and humanistic values—are not currently available to students at Kuwait University. Kuwait’s large swings in temperature—from 5ºC to 60ºC—and relative humidity—from 5 to 85%—challenged the design team to find innovative ways to balance community with comfort and expansiveness with efficiency. The design solution addresses these goals by lifting the mass of the building off the ground plane. This formal move provides building occupants with an easily accessed sequence of self-shaded and passively ventilated study/gathering spaces. The design team looked to traditional desert shelters for tested ideas of passive sustainability. The diwaniya tent, a traditional gathering place, holds a special significance in the region: its social function, materiality, form, and environmental performance are sophisticated responses to specific environmental and cultural conditions. The combination of self-shading building mass, a chimney effect at the “tents”, operable fold-up walls, and vegetated grilles and walls passively ventilate and cool the ground level shared spaces. Interior courtyard spaces with inward-sloped walls create self-shaded vertical “tents” and “tent gardens. At vertical circulation, terraced stadium seating provides informal study space that promotes community awareness and interaction. Passive ventilation enhances occupant comfort while reducing energy use, allowing the building systems to apply climate variations rather than fight them.