Alumni Bios & Abstracts (last names A through G)

Name

Degree 
&
Year

Thesis and Abstract

Biography
Abbas, Yasmine MIT 
SMArchS
2001

E M B O D I M E N T : Mental and physical geographies of the neo-nomad
Globalization is today significantly debated. The ineluctable phenomenon has led to homogenization, hybridization, cultural confusion, and social disorders. The resulting chaos has been translated by a loss of landmarks, which has consequently engendered mental and physical displacements.
New species, hybrids, have emerged from these various cultural encounters. Displaced, these populations of the border, the 'third' space, have developed their adaptation skills, including choice and negotiation, in order to assert a sense of belonging. Among the plethora of today's nomads such as refugees, global workers, and immigrants for example, hybrids are species that have mutated. They have become something detached from established orders, and not attached to any specific place. Like nomads, they move and adapt. Neo-nomads, then, in their effort to adapt and build a sense of belonging not bound to place, reminds us of the traditional nomads. By analyzing the hybrid, the ensuing spatiality, skins, and geographies of the neo nomad, this thesis offers an open-ended discussion about mobility, connectivity and space. These observations lead to the conclusion that nomads we were, nomads we are, and nomads we will be, always.

web: http://neo-nomad.net/

Abed, Jamal Hicham

MIT
SMArchS

1988

 

Traditional building trades and crafts in changing socio-economic realities and present aesthetic values: Case studies in Syria
Traditional building trades and crafts made a major contribution to the quality and the character of architecture in the past. The advent of industrialization in the name of modernization eclipsed these building trades and crafts and caused rapid changes of the urban character as well as of the architectural components, resulting in an alienation of the society from the contemporary environment.
Basing the thesis on my study in Syria, I have looked at how the technological development in the region, changes in the socio- economic conditions and the present aesthetic attitudes are affecting favorably or unfavorably these traditional building trades and crafts in all three levels-- men, processes, and products.
The thesis undertook to examine the revival of these traditional building trades and crafts as a potential solution to estrangement in architecture, to look at the feasibility of the return of these crafts to contemporary architectural production, and to study the nature of a reconciled relationship between the two realms of production.

web: http://staff.aub.edu.lb/~jamal/

 

AbdelAzim, Mariam

MIT
SMArchS

2014

Re-Urbanizing Ismailia: Using an Urban Infill Housing Approach
Ismailia is a modern Egyptian city located midway along the Suez Canal, the renowned waterway linking the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The city was developed in 1983 following a French archetype, in collaboration with the French, who were in charge of the operation of the Suez Canal, to serve as the headquarters of the Suez Canal Authority and to house its mainly French and European staff.
During the ensuing years, Ismailia remained compact and respected a dense and well-organized urban fabric, following its original plan. However, the city was evacuated in 1967 for six years during the Arab-Israeli war (1948-1973). It was in the latter half of the twentieth century, that Ismailia was re-planned and re-inhabited but with many undefined spaces between and within neighborhoods and that didn’t have any clear identity.
These neighborhoods lie within a district called Al- Sheikh Zayed, which occupies the whole eastern half of Ismailia. Rather than develop existing vacant plots in the district, the government plans to expand outside the city peripheries towards the desert, essentially creating an extensive, unsustainable urban sprawl.
This thesis proposes an alternative plan that creates a legible structure and a recognizable identity within one neighborhood at the heart of the Sheikh Zayed district. Using an urban infill strategy, this proposed plan is based on the premise that compact cities are more sustainable because dense areas share the same infrastructure and public services, are more walkable and bikable, and therefore they save energy and reduce pollution. 
Through tracking the historic urban development of the city and the analysis of the different urban elements and the site analysis, I identify a design solution for this district that can serve as a model development within Ismailia and can be applied in underdeveloped urban areas within other Egyptian cities. The outcome of the thesis is then an urban design proposal for the Sheikh Zayed neighborhood with a block design and a general landscape scheme.

Mariam is an architect who holds a BSc. in architecture from the American University in Cairo (AUC). After being one of the first group to graduate from architecture at AUC, she worked as a teaching assistant in the department of Construction and Architectural Engineering there. She is currently in her second year in the Master of Science in Architecture Program in the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT. Mariam has always been passionate about reviving the rich history and architecture of Egypt and reclaiming its public spaces. Her interests include public space and contemporary urbanism. She is currently working on her thesis, which focuses on the redevelopment of the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, her hometown in Egypt. http://archinect.com/mazim

Abu Hantash, Tawfiq Faris

MIT
SMArchS

1989

 

Ibn Khaldun and the city: A study of the physical formation of medieval Cairo
This essay is an application of Ibn Khaldun's theories of culture and civilization to a study of the physical formation of medieval Cairo . The study is based on the premise that the city is an historical process governed by an underlying set of cultural conditions. Those conditions manifest themselves in the physical form of the city. Ibn Khaldun formulated his theories as tools for investigating the nature of social phenomena. He considered such investigation a necessary step towards understanding and recording the historical events. His concept of history, stated in the first part of this study, is based on a cyclical pattern of cultural change which leads to the rise and fall of civilization. The city in his framework becomes an aspect of civilization following the same inevitable evolutionary pattern. The first part of this study examines those theories and focuses on their important aspects. The second part introduces some historical facts about the evolution of medieval Cairo and analyses them using the premises of Ibn Khaldun's theories. The reports of al-Maqrizi - a fifteenth century historian of Cairo - provided the historical information necessary for this investigation. The study raised some issues concerning the use of Ibn Khaldun's theories in pursuing such kind of studies, and the knowledge of the Islamic city which need to be reassessed. Those issues are presented in the last section under Reflections.

Architect and Managing Partner, GDAR Group For Design and Architectural Research

Agrawal, Vivek

MIT
SMArchS

1993

Reading context in design
This study explores how, in the process of design, the reading of an existing order in the organizing features of a setting potentiates form.
For this purpose, a design exercise on a site in the city of Jaipur in India has been chosen. The focus of the study lies in the way in which the natural and built environment of the site might relate to the larger urban context and its extensive systems and tightly controlled parts. It attempts to extract the essential elements of form and space in the natural and designed environment, and to discover their principles of organization.
This study is conceived in an effort to internalize the tenets of a fundamental language in design process - one that rejects the mediation of styles, and gains its validity both from existing aesthetic structures and from a reality which would affect and alter these structures.

http://www.mckinsey.com/global_locations/asia/japan/en/our_people/vivek_agrawal

Ahmed, Iftekhar Khondkar

 

MIT
SMArchS

1991

Up to the waist in mud!: The assessment and application of earth-derivative architecture in rural Bangladesh
This thesis is about architecture that uses earth as the prime· building material in the context of rural Bangladesh. In extreme environmental conditions of annual floods, rain and atmospheric humidity, the use of earth, the most readily available building material, faces serious constraints. Yet examples of earthen architecture abound there. Other parts of the world endowed with similar climatic and socio-economic conditions also yield interesting examples of such architecture. The advent of imported, industrial building products has disrupted the long-standing indigenous building traditions. New social, cultural, economic and environmental conditions necessitate the upgrading of local building techniques. In recent years, much work and research has been conducted to develop improved techniques of building with earth. Not all the improvised methods can be applied in the context of rural Bangladesh, yet some do indicate potentials for application. Methods of evaluating such applicable techniques, and of formulating design guidelines and principles for using them in rural Bangladesh form the main subject matter of the thesis.

Dr. Iftekhar Ahmed received his master’s degree through the Aga Khan Program in 1991 after completing his thesis entitled, "Up to the Waist in Mud: The Assessment and Application of Earth-Derivative Architecture of Rural Bangladesh", which was later adapted as a book. Pursuing this career field, Dr. Ahmed returned to his native Bangladesh where he has since been teaching at the Department of Architecture, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. In between, he completed his PhD at Oxford Brooks University, UK, on low-income rural housing. In the past ten years, Dr. Ahmed has written and delivered many papers on sustainable low-income housing as well as edited several books including, "Low-Income Housing: Multidimensional Research Perspectives" and "Village Infrastructure to Cope with the Environment"; presenting he his co-authoring a book entitled "Building Safer Houses in Rural Bangladesh". He has further worked as a consultant to Bangladeshi firms as well as NGOs, has served as a nominator for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, has led workshops for housing programs, and continues to pursue independent design and research. He has an office with his wife, interior designer Aida Ahmed, and together they have a two year old son, Ekushey.

Ahmed, Imran

MIT
SMArchS

1992

The journey from New Delhi to Islamabad: Dependence and subversion in the ambivalent expression of nationhood
This thesis addresses the critical terrain on which the colonial and post-colonial narratives of identity take shape. Taking Gayatri Spivak's aphorism that imperialism requires a rereading "not because Empire ..... is abstract, but because Empire messes with identity" as its premise, it attempts to map the spatio-temporal territory of identity expression inscribed between colonial New Delhi - "The King's God Child" - as the capital city of Imperial British India, and post-colonial Islamabad - "The City of Islam" - as the capital city of the nation-state the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The paper identifies a colonial legacy in Islamabad, and establishes the dialogic persistence of socio-spatial structures congruent in both cities. The independent nation status attained by much of the developing world in the last fifty years can be taken as a change in consciousness: breaking with the past is inextricably linked with the sense that tradition has been dismembered. This has led to a crystallization of memory at the particular moment of independence, and an effort to embody memory within a sense of historical continuity. Effacement of identity, which was once the only means of survival for the colonized, has been replaced by the legitimation of identity. The return to a denied heritage requires a re-invention of traditions which project an apparent coherence. Public architecture, as a form of cultural production, allows the suppression of inherent contradictions within the constitution of a nation. In this capacity it functions in much the same way as ideology. Capital cities as signifiers of a projected national identity thus provide an appropriate site of intervention for this discussion. It is the contention of this thesis that New Delhi in its epitomic narrativization of colonialism foreshadows the narrative mechanisms of post-colonial Islamabad. Sara Suleri has written: "If English India can serve as a discursive model of any interpretive resonance, then it must illustrate a disbanding of the most enduring binarism that perplexes colonial cultural studies: it must provide an alternative to the assignation of 'cultures' to colonialism; of 'nation' to post-colonialism". The sorry contiguity of the two terms evokes the post-colonial presence of the socio-spatial idiom of Imperial British India within the contemporary situation; this is the transitional social reality of postcolonial "modernity" as manifest in the architecture and urbanism of Islamabad.

 

MIT
HTC PhD

1984

Responsibility and the traditional Muslim built environment
This study aims to analyze the effect of the responsibility enjoyed by individuals over the built environment. To understand these effects the study concentrates on the physical state of the property. It is con- cluded that three claims will affect the physical state of a property: the claim of ownership, the claim of control and the claim of use. These three claims can be enjoyed by one or more individuals at the same time over the same property. A model is developed to explore the relation- ships between the three claims and the parties involved in sharing them, and it is then used to explain the physical state of a property. For example, given the same circumstances, we may expect a property that is owned, controlled and used by one person to be in a different state than if it is owned by one person, controlled by a second and used by a third. In the first case, responsibility is unified in one person, while in the second, it is dispersed among the three persons. In nddition to these two, the developed model recognizes three more patterns of responsibility into which a property may be submitted. These five states of submission of the property are called the "Forms of Submission of Property."
The relationship between the individuals sharing the responsibility over a property will affect the state of the property. If the relation- ships between the responsible parties change, the state of the property will change. The relationship between responsible individuals in the traditional Muslim built environment differs from that of contemporary environments which have changed the physical state of properties. By concentrating on the traditional built environments, this study high- lights these differences. It investigates various elements from both traditional and contemporary environments within the different forms of submission. First, the study investigates each form of submission independently, and then it explores the coexistence of the various properties that are in different forms of submission in the traditional built environment. This explains the relationship between the individ- uals responsible for different properties. From these explorations the conclusion is reached that responsibility in the traditional environments has shifted to outsiders in contemporary environments. In traditional environments the users had more responsibility; in contemporary environments outsiders share the reRponsibility with the inhabitants through interventions in all claims. The study demonstrates that the structure of the built environment has changed because of the change in the pattern of responsibility. Examples of such changes are: the potential of the physical environment, the conventions of·the society, the social relationships between users and the territorial structure.

Jamel A. Akbar received his SMArchS degree in 1980 with his thesis in housing design entitled, "Support for Courtyard Houses: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia." He then stayed on at MIT to complete his PhD, which he did in 1984 with the dissertation, "Responsibility and the Traditional Muslim Built Environment." Dr. Akbar has since returned to Saudi Arabia where he holds a professorship in the College of Architecture and Planning at the King Faisal University. Professor Akbar is a well-known reference in the field of the Muslim built environment. His articles on the Islamic built environment, preservation, planning and design have been published in journals & books such as Architectural Knowledge and Cultural Diversity, Muqarnas, Journal of King Saud University, Building for Tomorrow, and Open House International, and he has published two books, Imarat al-‘ard fi al-islam and Crisis in the Built Environment: The Case of the Muslim City in which he developed a model for measuring the quality of the built environment. Professor Akbar has delivered papers at conferences worldwide in such countries as Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Turkey, Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, Spain, Kuwait, Switzerland, the U.K., and Syria. Early on in his career he was granted the King Fahd Award for Architectural Research in the Muslim World. He was recently selected for various editions of Who’s Who, most importantly Millennium Who’s Who in the World in 2000. Also he was selected for several editions published by the International Biographical Center such as 1000 Great Asians, One Thousand Great Intellectuals, 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century, and Eminent People of Today. Further, Jamel A. Akbar was a member of the Aga Khan Award Technical Committee, a Guest-Editor of "Open House International, member of SAR International, the Netherlands, a member of the Riyadh Science Complex Committee, as well as Chairman of the Board of the Saudi Umran Association.

Akhtar, Saima

MIT
SMArchS

2007

Shangri La: Architecture as Collection
As a young heiress of the Duke fortunes, Doris Duke’s interest and investment in art was not highly unusual given her social background. However, her method of acquiring these objects was more unconventional than other collectors of her time. When the term "Islamic" is tacked onto these art objects it further complicates her collection, with issues of matronage and Orientalism at the forefront. Prominent American collectors, such as Isabella Stewart Gardner, exhibited an interest in Eastern art long before Doris Duke planned her honeymoon trip to the Muslim world in 1935. Still, there is very little hard evidence of the Duke’s interacting with such people during Doris’ childhood. This begs the question, how did Doris Duke develop an interest in Islamic art and culture? Since she was a very private person and collector, it is hard to speculate what inspired her curiosity for Islamic art. What might be a more informative and interesting avenue to follow is the impressive network of connections that allowed her the means to acquire such a substantial collection. Her self-created residence in Hawai’i, Shangri La, is now a visible culmination of the relationships she forged in her fascination with Islamic art and architecture, which she continually developed from its inception in 1937 until her death in 1993.   (cont.) Although Duke was highly dependent upon her advisors during the construction of Shangri La, she was purposeful in the procurement and placement of the objects she commissioned, which showed an independent will that varied from other wealthy American patrons of Eastern art at this time. An examination of these art-oriented relationships will help to trace the refinement of Duke’s palette for Islamic art, whose chief architectural accomplishment was one that she truly thought of as Islamic and uniquely her own.

Saima Akhtar is a 4th year doctoral candidate in the History of Architecture and Environmental Design of Developing Countries programs at the University of California, Berkeley. She completed Bachelor of Arts and Science degrees in Psychology and Architecture at the University of Michigan. After working for two years for the American Institute of Architects in Washington, DC, she began her Masters of Science in Architecture Studies in the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her current dissertation work at UC-Berkeley investigates the formation of ethnic enclaves in American cities with a focus on immigrant spatial practices and the production of urban identity during the Fordist era in Detroit, Michigan.

Akkar, Ghita

 

MIT
SMArchS

2011

A Cultural Customizable and Prefabricated Housing Grammar for Casablanca
Proposing an innovative design grammar linking prefabrication, customization and cultural adaptability, this thesis addresses the present day housing deficit and lack of architectural identity in Casablanca, Morocco. The grammar incorporates customization that creates housing units specific to a family’s needs, incorporating cultural aspects such as courtyards into the design, and simultaneously allows for the creation of a diverse urban fabric. I first reviewed the existing housing need in Casablanca to date, which includes 400 informal settlements and 98,128 households living in sub-standard conditions. This led to my exploration of prefabrication as a construction method, to my review of historical mass housing precedents in Casablanca, and to my identification of significant cultural typologies of the traditional Moroccan house. With the realization that the current housing market cannot support the current housing deficit, I decided to make a contribution to the system by designing a set of rules or a housing grammar that not only integrates prefabrication for fast construction but also customization to promote user participation and cultural adaptability to respond to local lifestyles. This prefabrication system I designed using light weight factory built modules allows for a fast and efficient way to deliver housing units at affordable prices for Casablanca. Drawing on the existing Moroccan financial housing models, this system will reduce the construction phase by 60%, allows for cost savings of 20%, while offering users the ability to customize in order to address their particular priorities and bringing dignity and practicality to the design of affordable housing. Furthermore, by investigating the courtyard as stacked units, I am exploring a new type of urban typology for low-rise high-density urban courtyard housing for Casablanca.

 

Aksamija, Azra

 

 

MIT
HTC PhD

2011

 

Our Mosques Are Us: Rewriting National History of Bosnia-Herzegovina through Religious Architecture
This dissertation examines how Bosnian Muslims construct their identity through the lens of rebuilt or newly built mosques following the systematic destruction of religious architecture during the 1992-1995 War. The stylistic diversity of contemporary mosques in the region, I argue, reflects competing visions of how contemporary Bosnia should deal with its own history of coexistence and war. By examining different identity formation processes on three scales (the building process, the regional, and the global scale), the dissertation argues that, aside from its religious functions, the contemporary mosque has become the primary locus where the emerging Bosniak nation can visually and symbolically shape and express its visions of itself. I begin by outlining how the cultural and political history of Bosnian Muslims has been "written" and "rewritten" through religious architecture since the fifteenth century. I then investigate how during the war of the 1990s the nationalist extremists instrumentalized religious architecture to facilitate the realization of their expansionist projects. While all ethno-national groups in Bosnia experienced significant war losses, Bosnian Muslims suffered the greatest human and architectural casualties. I argue that the extent and the genocidal nature of war violence against them has transformed the meaning of the mosque from that of a place of worship and of a signifier of religious-ethnic identity to that of the ethnic body of the Bosniak nation. The notion that the mosque stands in for the human body was internalized by Bosnian Muslims in the form of two novel and programmatically delineated mosque genres defined here as the Inat Mosque and the Memorial Mosque. The first results from identity construction in response to the national myths and territorial claims of the Serbs and Croats, while the second represents identity creation that is linked to the community's own internal processes of commemoration. These regional negotiations of identity are challenged by two competing global imperial ideologies introduced to Bosnia by the Saudi and Turkish donors and manifest in monumental mosques they finance. As local builders compete with these supra-national Islamic networks, contemporary mosque architecture in Bosnia has become a site of negotiation and frictions between global and local interests. Throughout, the analysis highlights the significance of ethnic symbols, long-term cultural factors, and global cultural flows in the creation of contemporary nations.

Azra Aksamija is a Sarajevo born artist and architectural historian, and currently Assistant Professor in MIT's Art, Culture and Technology Program. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Technical University Graz, Austria (Dipl.-Ing. in 2001) and Princeton University (M.Arch. in 2004), and received her Ph.D. from MIT (HTC / AKPIA) in 2011. In her multidisciplinary practice, Azra investigates the potency of art and architecture to facilitate the process of transformative mediation in cultural or political conflicts, and in so doing, provides a framework for researching and intervening in contested socio-political realities. Azra's academic research highlights the significance of ethnic symbols, long-term cultural factors, and global cultural flows in the creation of contemporary nations. In her Ph.D. dissertation, Aksamija examined how Bosnian Muslims construct their identity through the lens of rebuilt or newly built mosques following the systematic destruction of religious architecture during the 1992-1995 War. Her academic inquiry informs her ongoing artistic explorations about Islam in the West and the conflicts over the visibility of Muslims in America and Europe. Recent exhibitions of her artwork include the Secession Vienna (2007), Manifesta 7 (2008), the Stroom The Hague (2009), and the Royal Academy of Arts London (2010), and the Giorgio Cini Foundation as a part of the 54th Art Biennale in Venice (2011).

Alamuddin, Hana Sleiman

MIT
SMArchS

1987

Waterfront developments in the Middle East case study: The Golden Horn Project, Istanbul, Turkey
This thesis examines waterfront developments in the Middle East . It concentrates on the Golden Horn project in Istanbul as it raises a number of issues that are central to any such development in that region. In order for us to appreciate the problem, the thesis starts with an examination of the history of the city of Istanbul. This is followed by an investigation of the role of the Golden Hom in its life throughout history. The main issue raised in waterfront developments in a Middle Eastern context is discontinuity between the city and the new development through the introduction of new users, functions, scale and sensibilities alien to what exists now. Istanbul, being part of an international heritage, its preservation and continuity to the water's edge becomes a moral obligation as well as a practical need to protect rest of its fabric from the repercussions of overloading. A performance specification is put forward to integrate the development back into the life of the city. Formally, urban waterfronts in the context of the Middle East are problematic as no precedent exists for dealing with the water's edge. Hence an investigation of the cultural attitude to nature and the form of the city is put forward, from which principles and orders are extrapolated to aid the designers in their approach to the problem.

Hana S. Alamuddin graduated from the Aga Khan Program's Designing for Islamic Societies in 1987, for which she wrote her thesis on a "Waterfront developments in the Middle East case study: the Golden Horn Project, Istanbul, Turkey." She then moved back to England, where she worked with the John S. Bonnington partnership on projects including the Royal Bank of Scotland Headquarters in Jersey, barracks for the Qatar Police force, as well as several competitions including one for the Dubai Chamber of Commerce's Q-Tel Telecommunications Headquarters on Doha Qatar, and for the Shiakawa-British Cultural Center in Japan. She left John S. Bonnington partners in 1992 and began her two years at Unitex Consulting Engineers in Beirut in 1993 where she was head of the design team for the Saida New Mosque. After then moving in 1996 to Designers where she consulted on residential projects, Ms. Alamuddin joined Mamari Architects. With Mimari, she was the project architect on two restoration projects in Beirut as well as on a residential/commercial development in north Lebanon. In 1997, Ms. Alamuddin consolidated her freelance experience and started her own practice Al-Mimariya s.a.r.l. in 1998, Al-Mimariya projects include residences in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt . As a member of the executive committee of theAssociation Pour la Protection des Sites et Anciennes Demeurs she took part in a study on reconstruction guidelines of Salimah Village in Mount Lebanon to preserve its architectural and historic character. The team worked directly with the villagers and various ministeries and construction material companies to insure financial and technical help for the owners to resort their homes. As well as serving as a technical reviewer for the Aga Khan Award in both 1998 and 2001, she sat on the technical committee for the Preservation of the Architectural Heritage of Beirut Ministry of Culture in 1996. She was also part of a five architect team that worked forthe Director General of Urbanism, setting out a policy and the parameters for conservation areas in Beirut. The plan received approval by the Higher Directorate of Urbanism 1996. . Since 1994, Hana Alamuddin has lectured and co-taught design studios at AUB, and has presented lectures at both MIT and York University in England. She has been published three times, her "Letter from Beirut" in Mimarlik Kulturu Dergisi in August 2000, and her article on the Lebanese House, "The then the mason came forth and said: Speak to us of houses," in the 1996 Beitiddine Festival program. and in the published Colloquim papers, Architectural Education Today, Cross -Cultural Perspectives , 2002 " I want a Colonial House: The Architect versus the Other " Hana is also a founding member of the Arab International Women's Forum, a non profit organisation started in 2001, The AIWF is a forum for communication and networking between Arab business and professional women and their counterparts in the global economy.

Al-Harithy, Howayda

 

MIT
SMArchS

1987

Harvard PhD
2092

 

MIT SMArchS
Architectural form and meaning in light of Al Jurjani's literary theories

This thesis is an application of AI Jurjani's -- a Persian scholar-literary theories as a method for the critical analysis of architectural meaning. The study is based on the understanding of architecture as a mode of communication, and aimed at examining architectural meaning in general, and the metaphorical content in particular. The process is initiated by studying the literary theories of AI Jurjani. It is followed by investigating the analogies between literature and architecture, and establishing a foundation for the analogy proposed by this thesis. The application of AI Jurjani's theories is manifested and examined through the analysis of the case study: Sultan Hasan complex in Cairo. The analysis is mainly concerned with the meanings conveyed by the building, and the different means by which they are achieved. The specific case study leads to a more general scope of issues concerning architectural meaning which are presented in the conclusion.

Howayda N. Al-Harithy graduated from the SMArchS program in 1987 with her thesis on "Architectural Form and Meaning of Light of Al-Jurjani’s Literary Theories." From there she went on to pursue a Master of Arts and a PhD at Harvard, analyzing Mamluk architecture through both degrees. While engaged in her academic work at Harvard, Ms. Al-Harithy served as an architectural advisor to the Arriyadh Development Authority in Saudi Arabia. After receiving her doctorate in 1992, she returned to MIT as a visiting assistant professor while also lecturing at Harvard. In 1994, Ms. Al-Harithy moved to Lebanon where she took a teaching position in the Civilization Sequence Program at American University of Beirut. Though she took a hiatus as a visiting associate professor at MIT for the Spring 2000 semester, Howayda N. Al-Harithy continues to teach at AUB, where she is presently an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture and Design. She is very active at AUB, where she has organized design and fine art exhibits, conferences, lectures and panel discussions, coordinated a joint studio with Harvard Graduate School of Design, has lead student travel trips and advised in the development of the campus’ Master Plan Project. She has also served on UNISCO’s Scientific Committee for their 2000 seminar University and Heritage, and as a member of the editorial board for the Electronic International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. As well as attending numerous conferences, Ms. Al-Harithy has presented papers recently at MESA, YPO Cairo, the ACSA International Conference, the National Museum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments Conference, the Sixth International Seminar on Urban Form Meeting, and the Sackler Museum Lecture Series. She has published a monograph in the Bibliotheca Islamica entitled, "The Waqf Document of Sultan Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn Qalawun." Two of her pieces also appear in The Cairo Heritage (Papers in Honor of Layla Ibrahim and Arabic Calligraphy in Architecture: Islamic Monument Inscriptions in the City of Tripoli during the Mamluk Period. Howayda N. Al-Harithy has furthermore had articles published in Oxford’s Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Muqarnas, Mamluk Studies Review, Middle East Women’s Studies Review, Journal of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments, Bahithat, and the Harvard Middle Eastern and Islamic Review.
http://people.aub.edu.lb/~webfea/faculty/hharithy/resume
http://feaapps.aub.edu.lb/fea_faculty/profile.aspx?id=hharithy

MIT
SMArchS

1991

Conservation of architecture and settlements in Lebanon: Two case studies
Most of the information in this proposal is derived from my former and current research on Beirut, Methodology for Slow Conservation of War-Damaged Structures in Downtown Beirut. In the earlier version I have failed to highlight the significance of the Martyrs Square area. My aim in this addendum is to shed more light on the above. By doing so the conservation/rehabilitation zone takes on more of an inclusive and representational character, reflective of the richness and variety inherent in Beirut’s complex urban fabric. An intriguing aspect of this study is the rather remote chance for implementing any such reconstructive schemes. Given the recent rounds of fighting, it has become more hopeless to conceive of any notion of conservation or rehabilitation. A positive aspect, however, may be derived from the existing schemes already drafted during this decade, for the area’s possible rehabilitation/conservation.    The recent decree for the opeirlng of "Greater Beirut" by President Elias Hrawi sheds more optimism. It is with the hope that some day soon the Lebanese conscience and that of the world will prevail so that humanity and people may live, enjoy, produce, thrive and flourish more abundantly - that history proves, as it has done in the past, that destruction can be overcome. Only then, we could possibly talk about more than surveys and protective measures to safeguard our historic heritage. This will be the time to restore and rehabilitate the New Martyrs Square in memory of those who died in the late Civil War. The second part of the thesis expands the scope of the subject to include the Shouf region. It is here that the roots for regional Lebanese architecture are inherent. While fighting and bombing have also shattered a considerable number of significant structures in this area; the process of reconstruction and occasional restoration has proven more effective than in urban Beirut.    The process was carried over on the initiative of individuals. The primary reasons for such immediate intervention on the part of individuals was the advantage of less constraints in terms of the absence of bureaucracies (even with dramatically less fundamental support) and needless to say the lack of written conservation more comprehensive strategy for the area. Instead, alternate examples of almost identical character and plan will be substituted. legislation; these ,together boosted the rehabilitation/restoration process. A great many historical edifices and even more modest structures have already been fully restored, while the bulk of Beirut’s historical structures and quarters are decaying with time and neglect. An equally important aspect in this scenario is the nature of the occupants and their attitudes toward preservation.    While mountain dwellers seem more attached to their land and homestead, and accordingly are very reluctant to leave their surroundings, the city dwellers are more prone to mobility and social change. This aspect resulted in more restoration efforts in the mountains and accordingly less such in Beirut. Moreover, the building type most affected by destruction in Beirut happens to be concentrated in the heart of the city, Le.; the central business district, where hardly any residential apartment buildings exist. People seem to be more attached to their primary and more immediate surroundings, such as their own houses, which makes them more inclined by force-majeur to restore their dwellings. The last part of this thesis attempts to propose some particular "bylaws" or "clauses" regarding appropriate intervention. Consideration will be given to adaptive - reuse issues; especially as to what extent significant structures can be adaptively reused according to local conventions.    No written bylaws exist in this sphere and the only precedent seems to encompass civil and religious buildings; this renders such an issue extremely delicate, if not controversial. This also leads us to one other major question -- to what extent should legislation permit physical alteration of historical structures? Finally, an integral element in this thesis is the lack of conservation legislation in third world countries in general of which Lebanon is only one example; and how could legislation and local conventions be more effective through implementation in wider parts of the Middle East region, especially after the war. ·On the whole, this thesis attempts to raise questions, suggest certain possible solutions to given problems, provide a status quo report from 1982 to the present, and family draw conclusions. The conclusions are by no means rigid and therefore remain subject to debate and further questioning.

Nadia Al Hasani is currently director of WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) at the Petroleum Institute in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dr. Al Hasani completed her bachelor's degree at the University of Baghdad in Engineering and holds graduate degrees from MIT (Master's) and the University of Pennsylvania (phD) both in building technology. In the past, she has held diverse positions ranging from assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs at the American University of Sharjah as well as teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Miami of Florida, Notre Dame, and, of course, the University of Michigan. Dr. Hasani's research interests focus on technology and production, design through construction, cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary dialogues, and the architecture and planning of the non-Western world. Through her academic pursuits, Dr. Al Hasani has received a Research Fellow at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Art and Architecture at MIT, a Graham Foundation Grant from Chicago, and a National ACSA Faculty Teaching Award from Washington, DC.
Dr. Al Hasani came to the UAE in 1999 with the intention of staying one year, however, she stayed for eight years. She followed her time in the UAE with a sabbatical year doing research at MIT in Harvard. Her UAE roots called her back to the country and she became the Director of the Women in Science & Engineering Program at the Petroleum Institute and a symbol of women's influence in the STEM fields in the Middle East and around the world! -

 

MIT
HTC PhD

1981

 

Tradition, continuity and change in the physical environment: The Arab-Muslim city
Issues within the context of the present cannot be isolated from their spatial or temporal context. Neither the past (tradition) nor the future (modern technology) can provide solutions to the problems of the present. Their value lies in the fact that they represent "resources" which broaden our choices and inform us as to how similar issues were or could be dealt with in different times and places. However, a society's past and the way that society conceives of its past provides modes of continuity which give the present its authenticity. If we are to deal with the issues of the present and hope for an authentic future, the authority of the past or tradition cannot be blindly accepted though its authenticity and relevance to the present must be recognized.
The problem addressed here is that of a present phy- sical environment in the Arab-Muslim city which is totally different from the traditional one. As a result of this difference, a sense of discontinuity and alienation has developed among the inhabitants of these cities. pose of this study is to understand how this process came about and how a sense of continuity with the past can be reestablished. To achieve this purpose four main issues are addressed here: (1) the origin and process of forma- tion of the traditional physical environment; parity between the traditional and the contemporary envi- ronment; (3) the origins of this disparity; and (4) the possible notions which might be suggested by way of rees- tablishing a sense of continuity between the past and the present.
The legal system is used as a means of analysis in this study. This has helped us to see the physical envi- ronment within its socio-cultural context, by informing us about the ideological or structural level of the society and by pointing out accepted social norms and conventions and the mechanism of their social effectiveness. The law has helped us to point out the differences between the traditional and the contemporary process. In the tradi- tional city, the process relied on rules of conduct or,- social conventions which proscribed certain actions on the part of the inhabitants. city, the rules are physical and prescriptive in nature. They prescribe in physical terms not only what is to be done but also how it is to be implemented. Implied. within the traditional process is a reciprocal and possi- bilist relationship between form and use while the contem- porary process advocates a determinist approach to the relationship of form and use.
Several factors are believed to have worked in favor of the shift from the traditional process to the contem- porary one in the Arab-Muslim city. Important among these are: the existence of certain implied ideologies; changes in the scale of development, ppwer and technology; and problems within the field of architecture and urbanism and their relationship to the Arab-Mu'slim context. Only by being aware of these processes and factors can we conceive of an appropriate approach to reestablish a sense of continuity with the past that stems from the needs of the.present and aspirations for the future.

Dr. Saleh Al-Hathloul is a Saudi Arabian educator and a critic in the field of architecture, with interests in the epistemology of knowledge, structural changes in society, and futurist studies. He received a master's degree in urban design from Harvard University (1975), and a Ph.D. in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1981). He was an assistant professor and chair of the department of architecture at King Saud University in Riyadh from 1981 to 1984, and chairman of the board of Al-Umran (the Saudi Arabian Society for Architects and Planners) from its inception in 1989 until 1993. Dr. Al-Hathloul served as a jury member of the Award of the Organisation of Arab Cities for the past three cycles. He is the author of numerous books and articles on planning and architecture, of which The Arab Muslim City (1994) is the best known. Since 1984, Dr. Al-Hathloul has been the deputy minister for town planning, Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the responsibility of directing and supervising all national, regional, and local planning in the Kingdom.

 

 

 

Al-Husseini, Dalia

MIT
SMArchS

2007

Aqaba's Old Town: Proposed Model for Community Development within the Aqaba special economic zone
As a recently designated Special Economic Zone in 2001 and Jordan’s only port, Aqaba has been experiencing a major economic boom and rapid development at a scale previously unprecedented in Jordan. Under the governance of the Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) investments and growth so far have largely focused on new developments bypassing the more distressed parts of the city. Community development and upgrading efforts in Aqaba have thus far fallen short. Efforts are scattered, jurisdictions are unclear, and there is a definite lack of a coherent strategy and clear mechanisms for community development within the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ). This thesis examines the Aqaba Old Town critically and suggests developing it as a model for community upgrading and revitalization within ASEZ. Through examining the existing stakeholders and roles, I arrive at a suggested strategy for the Old Town that would serve as model for community upgrading within ASEZ.

 

Ali Khaled, Mohammed

MIT
SMArchS

1989

The use of precedents in contemporary Arab architecture: Case studies; Rasem Badran and Henning Larsen
Much recent architecture in the Arab World utilizes historical precedents in an attempt to articulate an identity for regional architecture. This thesis investigates this approach in relation to place and cultural context. The study is focused on three institutional buildings from the Arab World: two projects by the architect Rasem Badran, Qasr al-Houkm (Justice Palace) in Riyadh and the Presidential Palace in Bagdad, and Henning Larsen's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh. The analysis examines the architects' designs and design research in order to reveal the architects' theoretical positions and their artifactual realizations. This approach allows for a deeper understanding design as a method and a production, and suggests an approach for architectural criticism.

 

 

MIT
SMArchS

2010

Renewable Success: Development of good architecture in the case of Arriyadh Development Authority, Saudi Arabia
ArRiyadh Development Authority (ADA) is an unusual city development authority within the Saudi Arabian government hierarchy. Part of its responsibilities is coordinating and overseeing the design and building of buildings for Ministries and other projects needed by the government. ADA has a positive reputation for achieving quality award winning architecture. Though there have been studies on the development of Riyadh, there has been no study of how quality of architecture is perceived and defined by ADA and why ADA was able to sustain a record of successful project. Investigating ADA’s methods in approaching architectural projects would provide assistance to architectural firms, agencies, and scholars interested in the perception of quality architecture in Riyadh. To pursue these questions, I have interviewed 20 people who had experiences with ADA and related their input to current literature on design excellence. This study attributes the success of ADA in creating ’good’ architectural projects to five elements: symbolic capital, efficiency and competence, architectural vision, adopting multi-perspectives and flexibility. The study concludes with a discussion of the future challenges facing ADA.

 

Al-Masri, Wael Mohammad

MIT
SMArchS

1993

Architecture and the question of identity: Issues of self-representation in Islamic community centers in America
This study examines the opposed notions of architecture as an autonomous discipline and of architecture as a product of cultural politics. It also suggests that recent development in cultural critique, particularly regarding issues of identity and the representation of culture, can support architectural criticism and inform architectural production. The particular circumstances of Muslims living in America as a minority have contributed to the development of a sense of Muslim-American identity. This, while possessing a stable ideological core, can be seen as in reality a kind of hybrid identity, based on constant negotiation and shifting perspectives. Yet the reaction to certain aspects of these circumstances, as well as to the continuing East/W est confrontation, have contributed to a growing assertiveness of an exclusive sense of identity, which has generally surfaced in the character of the Islamic community centers in America In many cases this has perpetuated, through the use of architectural icons, long established Western stereotypes about Islam. There is a need, therefore, for the character of these buildings to be re-conceived on the basis of interaction and participation, rather than reaction or withdrawal; on inclusion instead of exclusion, and the articulation of a character that gives physical expression to shared values, as well as to those enriching differences that can contribute to the vitality of America. In an atmosphere of increasing multiculturalism, architecture can be viewed as a significant mediator, and as potentially capable of acting as an important vehicle of cross-cultural communication. By pointing to the implications of current architectural practices on the perception of Muslims in America, the study highlights the need to establish such a dialogue through architecture, and suggests ways of approaching a more positive architectural outlook.

Wael Al-Masri graduated from the SMArchS program in 1993 with his thesis entitled, "Architecture and the Question of Identity: Issues of Self Representation in Islamic Community Centers in America." Even before coming to MIT, Mr. Al-Masri was an established designer, having worked as a senior architect in the Kuwaitti Engineer’s Office for six years an then as the Campus Architect of the University of Southern Indiana for one year. After graduating, Mr. Al-Masri moved to Amman, where he lectured and supervised design work at Jordon University for Women. In 1994, he joined Shubeilat Badran Associates (SBA) in Amman as a project manager and senior architect on such projects as the Amman City Hall, Abu ‘Ubayda Project (which included a mosque, mausoleum, school, marketplace, housing and landscaping), and Dar al-Khayr, the late King Hussein’s residence in Hommar. From 1995 to 1996 he administered the Jordan Sustainable Tourism Development Project funded by USAID. Mr. Al-Masri then took the position of Partner and Head of the Architectural Department at the Khayyat Engineering Company in Jordan, undertaking design projects including villas and hotels. While with Khayyat, he was able to also lecture at the University of Applied Sciences as well as win a competition for the design of tourist facilities at Wadi Rum. During this time, Mr. Al-Masri continued to work as a consultant for SBA. In 1998, he returned full-time to SBA, recently renamed Dar al-Omran, where here is a partner today. Wael Al-Masri’s work there includes projects in Jordan and Kuwait as well as the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha Qatar, the World Monuments Fund signage project for Petra as well as numerous international competitions.

Almogren, Nawaf Bin Ayyaf

MIT
SMArchS
2020

Diriyah Narrated by Its Built Environment:The Story of the First Saudi State (1744-1818)
Diriyah is a parched settlement in the arid deserts of Central Arabia. It swiftly went from not differing much compared to its local sphere, to assuming the role of a beacon capital which controlled Arabia almost in its entirety. From its ambitious emergence in 1744– which stemmed from a historical pact between political authority and religious influence, until its hefty downfall in 1818– after assuming the role of a bunker under siege for six long months, Diriyah witnessed numerous political stages which effected its built environment. Between a dire need to defend and fortify at one point, and an eager desire to show luxuriousness and grandeur at another, Diriyah’s built environment became a shimmering pond reflecting the ever-shifting political status of the state at any given time.

By relying on historical textual accounts, infused with visual means of analysis, this thesis explores, and narrates, the urban development history of Diriyah during the timeframe of the First Saudi State (1744-1818), through using its built environment as a main examination tool. Accordingly, Atturaif historic district in Diriyah, was chosen as an urban model which directly stemmed as a result of establishing the state under the double weight of politics and religion. Located on an elevated majestic plateau, Atturaif became the center of power, and the decision-making hub of the ever-growing state. Hence, its urban form was examined, its core elements investigated, and notions of its symbolism analyzed.

Eventually, the project described herein argues that the urban story of Diriyah presented an interesting paradigm to analyze. How a strategic pact between the two different entities of politics and religion come together to turn a small patch of land, amongst ever-battling tribally-ruled settlements, into a capital of a State which possessed the largest extent of influence in the Arabian Peninsula since the 7th century.

 
Alrabe, Muneera MIT
SMArchS
2016
Spatial Practice: The Politics of “Activating” Public Space in the State of Kuwait
My thesis examines the socio-spatial dialectics that unfold throughout the development of public spaces in Kuwait. In my thesis, public space is understood as a space of urban dialogue between the state, the city, and the people. This dialogue can be understood by examining the spatial dynamics between three complex agents: the State, Kuwaiti citizens, and public space. This thesis examines the historical development of two site-specific typologies in Kuwait: first, the political actions taken in squares and streets; and second, the design interventions in large and small park networks within the city of Kuwait. In this thesis, I investigate the political dissent movement from Al-Safat square since 1938 and AI-Erada square since 2006, and the ways in which the government responds to each. Additionally, I examine the emergence of the park networks in Kuwait since the 1960s and more recent design movements found within the Secret Garden and the MantaqaMe movement in 2013 until today, in comparison to the larger-scale Al- Shaheed Park. This thesis argues that each space was appropriated by socio-political citizen movements as a symbolic space for political dispute over democracy or power. With each new socio-political movement, the government responds with 'new' legislation and spatial maneuvers aimed at disrupting these claims. Finally, I propose a more nuanced reading of public space in Kuwait, highlighting a more complex spatial relationship between the Kuwaiti citizens and the State. This thesis posits that public space is not only a container for politics but the space to reinstate spatial and political agency for a broad desire for change. Studying the two contested typologies, I seek to dismantle the neutral view of public space as simply scenic or functional in favor of a far more political history that is also a spatial history.
 

Al-Suleihi, Sab
Taher

MIT
SMArchS

1992

The lyrical facades of San'a
This study investigates aspects of the interrelationship between poetry and architecture as two modes. of cultural expression. It postulates that the critical aesthetic values of a culture surface in its various products which may interchange influences and roles. As an example of a rich indigenous Yemeni and Islamic culture, the old city of S?an’â’ provides a good case for the exploration of the nature of the contemplated interchange. The study considers some fundamental patterns in both the façades of S?an’â’ and its lyrical poetry. The parallels drawn are used to construct hypotheses for the investigation of the patterns of the façades using techniques parallel to those used in studying the metric patterns of Arabic poetry. The proposed model shows promising potential as a tool to reveal the ordering principles underlying architectural composition.

 

MIT
SMArchS

1998

The future of the past: On conserving the Mellah of Rabat, Morocco
This thesis examines the approach to urban conservation in the Jewish Quarter or Mellah in Rabat, Morocco. It addresses the complexities of conservation in a diverse society in a developing country. It explores how a view of the past affects the conservation rationale and argues for re-evaluating the approach to the past in evolving a plan. Through a comparison of the Rabat Mellah and other cases of urban conservation, the thesis will emphasize the need for both context sensitivity and integration with development strategies. The municipality of Rabat has initiated a proposal for. the rehabilitation of the Medina. Since its problems are more acute, the Mellah is treated separately. Rehabilitation and restoration of the existing urban fabric raises the issue of dealing with the past and future of this quarter. The proposal acknowledges the Mellah's historic importance but relates it neither to the restoration of the urban fabric nor to its future maintenance. Would preserving the Mellah as an irreplaceable monument best serve to represent, communicate and maintain its historical importance and urban character? Its conservation is further complicated by the fact that, except for three families on the outskirts, its original Jewish residents no longer inhabit the Mellah. The conservation of the Mellah has to have meaning for its current residents while respecting the memory of the Jews that it was originally built for. The patterns of change over the previous ten years are used to predict a scenario of the Mellah ten years hence, both with and without the intervention of the proposal. The case studies in this analysis highlight the necessity of including preservation within the larger urban development framework. The broader issue of imposing a universal set of values and single approach over different historic and cultural frameworks is critically discussed. Finally, an alternative set of principles is proposed and applied to a path of action for the Mellah of Rabat.

Minakshi Mani Amundsen graduated in 1998 with a dual SMArchS degree in the Aga Khan Program and a MCP degree. Her graduate thesis studied the complex issues of preserving the history of the Jewish community in the mellah of Rabat, Morocco. Minakshi graduated from the CEPT School of Architecture in 1987, and practiced as an architect in India until 1995. Since graduating from MIT she has worked primarily as an urban planner with the MIT Planning Office, the former Harvard Planning and Real Estate Office,. MIne is currently the Director of Campus Planning for Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where she oversees all land related planning and design, including master planning, development, landscape conservation and transportation planning. She is also extensively involved in campus-community initiatives related to planning, community development and regional sustainability. Mina's work is driven by the sense of place and evolving identity, linking history, currents trends and a long term vision. She lectures at the Department of City and Regional Planning and is also a studio reviewer for the landscape architecture program. Her research interests include the interface between preservation and culture at the planning and community scales and conservation of land and natural resource systems.

MIT
HTC PhD

2005

The Suburban Villa (munya) and Court Culture in Umayyad Cordoba
As the capital of the Umayyad dynasty (r. 756 CE-1031 CE), the city of Cordoba developed into one of the most renowned urban centers of the western Mediterranean. The Great Mosque of Cordoba is the outstanding testament to the architectural activities of the dynasty, yet textual and material evidence indicates that the Great Mosque was but one facet of a broader program of Umayyad patronage. The dissertation focuses on the dynasty’s secular monuments - the suburban villas (Arabic munya, p. munan) constructed around the city by the Umayyad rulers and their courtiers. It analyzes the munya as a medieval architectural, landscape, and social phenomenon. By addressing issues of function, patronage, and meaning, the dissertation utilizes Cordoban villas as a vehicle for the investigation of Umayyad court society. The dissertation is divided into two parts. Part One (Chapters I-IV) defines the architectural characteristics and agricultural functions of the munya. Part Two analyzes the social functions of the Cordoban estates as settings for Umayyad court activities, and the meanings associated with estate patronage and the Umayyad construction of a villa landscape.   (cont.) The dissertation contextualizes the munya within a broader constellation of Mediterranean villas and villa culture, and argues that the munya tradition informed subsequent developments in palace architecture on the Iberian Peninsula. Cordoban villas provided significant revenue for the state and patrons, supplied the court with the luxury crops considered necessary to refined life, served as settings for court activities, and demonstrated status and power among the Umayyad ruling class. The Cordoban rulers therefore attached a strong ideological importance to the estates. With the establishment of the caliphate in the tenth century, Cordoba’s fertile villa landscape became entwined with Umayyad notions of sovereignty and good governance, in which a fertile landscape was conflated with political legitimacy, a theme that is also apparent in Umayyad court literature. Thus, the dissertation demonstrates that an appreciation of the many links between the villas and the Cordoban ruling class is central to comprehending Umayyad court society.

Glaire D. Anderson is a historian of early and medieval Islamic architecture and urbanism with a focus on the caliphal period (particularly the ninth and tenth centuries) and the western Mediterranean, especially Iberia and North Africa. She received her PhD from MIT (History, Theory & Criticism of Architecture and Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture). Her ongoing research focuses on early Islamic Iberia and North Africa; women, eunuchs and patronage in al-Andalus; and the place of the medieval Islamic lands in a broader history of villas and villa cultures. In 2009, Anderson held a Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, and her work has also been recognized by the College Art Association, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Society of Architectural Historians, and the Barakat Foundation. She currently serves on the Executive Board of the Historians of Islamic Art Association as Treasurer.:
2012: Promoted to Associate Professor with tenure, Art History Program, UNC-Chapel Hill
Honors:
Associate Scholar, European Research Council project, "Reassessing the Roles of Women as 'Makers' of Medieval Art and Architecture":
http://www.proyectos.cchs.csic.es/womenasmakers/content/presentation
Selected Publications
The Islamic Villa in Early Medieval Iberia: Aristocratic Estates and Court Culture in Umayyad Córdoba [under contract, Ashgate Publishers].
"Concubines, Eunuchs, and Patronage in Early Islamic Córdoba." In Reassessing the Roles of Women as 'Makers' of Medieval Art and Architecture, ed. Therese Martin. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2012, pp. 633-669.
"Islamic Spaces and Diplomacy in Constantinople (10th-13th c.)." Medieval Encounters 15.1 (2009): pp. 86-113.
Glaire D. Anderson and Mariam Rosser-Owen, eds. Revisiting al-Andalus: Perspectives on the Material Culture of Islamic Iberia and Beyond. Medieval & Early Modern Iberian World 34. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2007.
"Villa (munya) Architecture in Umayyad Cordoba: Preliminary Considerations." In Revisiting al-Andalus, 53-79.

 

Ani, Raya H.

MIT
SMArchS

1994

In the shadow of segregation: Women’s identity in the modern Iraqi house
This thesis intends to develop a critical perspective on the culture and politics of the modern house in Iraq. It advances the discussion from the authoritative religious environment of women’s segregation in the Islamic era associated with the courtyard house, to the seemingly liberated status of women in modern times, as manifested in the design of the house. The primary argument is that there was little substantial change in this status through British Colonialism and the emergence of the secular state and modern aesthetics in Post-Colonial Iraq. Marking the pre-modern period from the Abbasid to the Ottoman rule, the traditional courtyard house reflected the apparent agreement between the world view of a traditional society and the accepted status of women in it. This house manifested principles of spatial hierarchy and privacy as a response to the deeply-embedded principles of social hierarchization of sexes and prevailing assumptions about women.    Thus the courtyard house came to be "the house of women’s segregation" par excellance. In the British colonial era, the upper-middle classes manifested their preference for the Classical architecture of the colonizers and for European lifestyles; however, the selective process and adaptation of the influences of Colonial architecture into house design made the logic behind the design principles inconsistent. The inflexibility of these principles with respect to accommodating concepts of women’s privacy, such as principles of axis and symmetry, reveals the inappropriateness of this style to work within the cultural conventions. In the period of post-colonial independence and nation building, the aspirations of the Iraqi architects for a new aesthetic revolution and a social reform was articulated with the state revolutionary politics.    Seemingly divorced from traditional methods of building and traditional materials, the architects promoted aspects of modern utopia and positivism in anticipation of an environmentally and socially better world. The architects’ intellectual passion for abstraction and their excessive infatuation with technology, culminating in the new aesthetic and openness, were applied primarily in facade treatment and minor details rather than the actual plan of the house. Thus the plan was still confined to the conventional practices of the society based on imperatives of privacy and hierarchy. Moreover, the new aesthetic of openness conflicted with the entrenched social norms and with woman’s perception of herself, resulting in a feeling of alienation. The promise of women’s liberation was illusive within the limited definition of the politics of that liberation and given the persistent perception of women in society as dependent and vulnerable.    The modern house could not carry a new social reform with its new aesthetic. It still faced the dilemma of society marked by the conflict between the desired definition of progressiveness and the existing conventions of identity, thereby revealing the emptiness and the unresolved contradiction between aspirations and actual practice.

Raya Ani, Founder | Design Director, RAW-NYC Architects
Raya is an award winning Architect and urban designer with 25 years of professional experience having worked in Baghdad, Germany, Boston, New York and Dubai.
In 2015,2016 and 2017, she was named one of the Top most powerful Architects in the Middle East.
She received her BSC in Architectural Engineering from Baghdad University with distinctions, and an MS in Architectural studies from MIT where she was awarded the Harvard / MIT Aga Khan Scholarship. Raya is the 2017 President of the American Institute of Architects-Middle East; she is a licensed Architect in the State of New York and a US Green Building Council Accredited Professional.
Raya has designed the first public green school in New York City and two green- certified (LEED) residential towers in Battery Park City. In 2011, she was nominated for the Middle-East Architect of the year Award and her work was highly commended by the jury. In 2012, she founded RAW-NYC Architects, an interdisciplinary architectural studio based in New York City and Dubai.
In 2013, she received AIA-ME honor award for her visionary work on the marshes of southern Iraq as well as a merit award for her design of Aspire sports complex in Qatar. In 2014, Her Aspire Sports complex project received the Leisure Project of the Year Award by Middle East Architect. In 2015, one of RAW-NYC Architects’ commercial projects was named “Most innovative Commercial structure” in Build Magazine’s 2015 Architecture Awards.
She has taught urban and architectural design studios and served as a guest critic at a number of leading architectural schools in New York and Boston. She is a regular guest speaker at many international architectural conferences including Harvard Arab conference where she moderated a panel on the future of the Arab city. She has been an active participant in workshops to help design schools and build communities.
Her research focuses on future living, future cities, economic and social sustainability and the intersection between technology, innovation and sustainability. 

AnsariZarminae

 

 

 

MIT
SMArchS

1997

A contemporary architectural quest and synthesis: Kamil Khan Mumtaz in Pakistan
This thesis looks at an important Pakistani architect's work and philosophy as a possible direction or approach for contemporary architecture in Pakistan. Although there are more prolific builders in Pakistan, Kamil Khan Mumtaz (KKM) of Lahore, is one of the most important and influential figures in architectural education and the architectural discourse in Pakistan. He has tried to synthesize both pragmatic and philo- sophical aspects of architecture.
Kamil Khan Mumtaz was trained in the Modern Movement at Architectural Association, London. His initial exposure to indigenous Architecture made him question the validity of his training. He started to search for a more appropriate architectural idiom for Pakistan. Throughout his career, he has been a pioneer in the movement for conservation of architectural heritage and raising standards of architectural design in Paki- stan through different organizations he has founded and is member of.
This thesis looks at three stages of evolution in the architects background, discourse and work; relating it to its cultural milieu.
The first phase describes the state of architecture in Pakistan when he returns from the Architectural Asso- ciation, London, and the events leading up to the situation. The background is a period of nation building following Independence and Partition and a lack of adequate architectural education in Pakistan. His early buildings reflect his Modernist training and social concerns.
The second phase looks at his growing concerns with appropriate technology, and interest in indigenous building techniques and crafts. This is the period of Islamic nationalism and the Islamization program dur- ing the military regime of General Zia.
The last phase, is the recent and contemporary situation, where global culture meets the deep rooted rem- nants of fundamentalism fanned by Zia's regime. At this time his architecture is an attempt at synthesis of modern technology and local craft with his own interest in spiritual aspects of architecture.KKM's most rep- resentative work in each of these phases will be discussed with reference to his architectural agenda at the time.
Other issues raised, while assessing the work of Kamil Khan Mumtaz, are issues of regionalism relating to the evolution of his architecture. If critical regionalism is considered the preferred choice, or alternative, of architectural approach specially in Islamic and/ or developing countries, how well does KKM's work fit into that context? Finally, it explores his importance as an architect, educator and intellectual in terms of his influence on contemporary architecture in Pakistan.

Zarminae Ansari graduated from the S.M.Arch.S. program in 1997. Her thesis focused on the phenomenon of regionalism and the search for national identity, concentrating specifically on the work of senior Pakistani architect Kamil Khan Mumtaz, who has also served on the Steering Committee for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
After graduating, Ms. Ansari stayed on and worked with the program as the research and organization coordinator for MIT's Historic Town Revitalization Workshop in Peshawar, Pakistan and later at an architectural firm in Boston.
In Spring 2001, Ms. Ansari served as a visiting lecturer at the University of Karachi and the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi. At University of Karachi, she designed and implemented a mould-breaking curriculum to teach the history of architecture incorporating research and presentation techniques. Zarminae has lectured to business and educational institutions on new media, architecture: criticism, history and its role in the creation of national identity. Member of MIT's Education Counsel, she has also served on interview panels for the Fulbright scholarship program, among others.
Zarminae has participated in various international conferences. Her paper on adaptive reuse and urban regeneration was published in the Seminar proceedings of "The Mediterranean Medina", Pescara, Italy.
She is a contributing author to the recently published Mazaar, Bazaar: Design and Visual Culture in Pakistan. Her essay linked the traditional drink Rooh Afza's marketing strategy with the creation of national identity and Pakistan specific consumer-culture. As a freelance journalist since 1989, Zarminae writes for various national and international publications including the "Aman ki Asha" pages in The
News. Aman ki Asha, meaning "Hope for Peace," is an award-winning people-to-people peace initiative taken by the Times of India and the Jang Group of Pakistan.
As director of a multi-media company in Abu Dhabi, and later Business Development Manager at Al Rayan Investments, Zarminae was able to utilize her interest in business and marketing with her training as an architect to work on major development projects. She has recently worked on a project to promote the adaptive reuse and historic conservation projects of the Aga Khan Cultural Services-Pakistan (AKCSP) in the Northern Areas, especially the Shigar Fort and Khaplu Fort restoration projects in Baltistan. She conceived and produced a music video with one of the sub-continent's preeminent singers promoting tourism to the area, to encourage poverty alleviation, peace and development. (http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=PQd9KYDm734)
Zarminae's most recently helped to produce "Another Pakistan": a set of interviews of architects, writers, artists and musicians for Radio Open Source's Christopher Lydon sponsored in part by the Asia Society (http://www.radioopensource.org/another-pakistan/). She is a long time fan and listener of Lydon's radio shows since NPR's "The Connection" which she heard for the first time as a student at MIT.

Arida, Saeed

MIT
SMArchS

2004

Contextualizing Generative Design
Generative systems have been widely used to produce two- and three-dimensional constructs, in an attempt to escape from our preconceptions and pre-existing spatial language. The challenge is to use this mechanism in real-world architectural contexts in which complexity and constraints imposed by the design problem make it difficult to negotiate between the emergent output, the context, and the controllability desired by the human designer. This thesis investigates how generative systems address contextual parameters, including the designer, client, user, meaning, aesthetics, environment, and function. This is demonstrated through my case studies, in which my aim was to avoid computerized unprocessed formalism that does not implicitly allow for any contextual and cultural content. I sought to extend simple algorithmic form-generation processes to allow for the subtleties of a given context to be effectively addressed. Some challenges and questions arose from these case studies. By interrogating different generative machines, common threads and challenges, similar to mine encountered in the case studies, were found. All of the processes that strove towards the creation of a generative system struggled with similar issues: How can we use rule-based systems without sacrificing meaning or function or the humanistic touch? How can we address contextual parameters without a loss?

Also obtained doctorate at MIT.

Arif, Rabeeya

MIT
SMArchS

2019

Processual Preservation of the City within a City: The (in)formal Inhabitation of Heritage 

 

Arshad, Shahnaz

MIT
SMArchS

1988

Reassessing the role of tradition in architecture
This study stems from a deep dissatisfacion with contemporary architectural trends in Pakistan today, coupled with an acite awareness that the long-established traditions the society is endowed with remain ingnored. It questions the disparity between traditional and contemporary built environments, and seeks to understand the process which led from the one to the other. And in so doing, it attempts to identify the continuities that remained and the changes that occured.
The study begins with the conviction that traditions still remain important in the society. This hypothesis is supported by a theoretical debate and practical evidence, in an effort to identify the common threads that transcend time and thus form these traditions. The evidence is gathered through an examination of residential environments built in successive time periods - from historical to contemporary - and their comparative analysis. The research is based on original newly discovered data, oral history, on-site investigations, and where available, existing information. The comparative analysis is approached from three angles - architecture, living patterns, and user feedback. And through this analysis emerge the forces of change and the thieds of continuities affecting the environment and its use. The traditions thus identified are currently often regarded as contrary to progress, and therefore redundant. This thesis seeks to re-establish their enduring validity by confirming their persistent presence and continued value.

Shahnaz Arshad received her SMArchS degree in 1988 with a thesis "Reassessing the role of tradition in architecture." She then returned to Pakistan where she took a position as senior architect at National Engineering Services Pakistan Ltd. In Islamabad. After working with them for a year, Ms. Arshad moved to a private architectural consulting firm, Suhail and Pasha, where she worked as a project manager until 1993. Ms. Arshad then became managing partner at Naqshgar, an architecture and design firm in Rawalpindi. In 1996, she left Naqshgar and went to work for the World Bank in Pakistan, where she currently works today for them as a Senior Urban Specialist. Her experience with the Bank includes overseeing lending on such projects as the Punjab Municipal Development Fund and supervision over projects such as the NWFP Community Infrastructure Project and the Karachi Water Supply and Sanitation Project. Ms. Arshad has also coordinated economic and sector work in City Development Strategy and City Assistance Program for Peshawar, created a Preliminary Needs Assessment for Afghanistan, and involved private sector participation in urban-environmental services. Recently, Ms. Arshad supervised a health sector reform project in Jordan. As well as receiving three Spot Awards for professional contributions last year, she was included in the World’s Who’s Who of Women, 14th edition, in 1996.

MIT
HTC PhD

1989

Architecture as a theatre of life: Profile of the eighteenth century Bosphorus
Eighteenth century Istanbul displays a complex social and cultural landscape breaking away from traditional institutions. Combined with tvo contradictory tendencies of the Ottoman elite -a movement and reform and an inclination toward lethargy and mundane pleasure-J the nature and intensity of change are generally regarded having come from outside. However, the same inconsistency is revealed in the lives of ordinary people, who were not merely subordinate to the cultures of the Europeans and the Ottoman elite, but vere also participants in ill-precedented activities and thoughts, feelings and beliefs, imaginings and aspirations.
This impetus found its physical manifestation in the expansion of the city along the Bosphorus. A set of ceremonial and ritualistic festivities that took place in the newly growing settlements on the Grande Allée was the locus of communication for both the hierarchically stratified Ottoman elite and people of modest means. To the role of Bosphorus as a thoroughfare had been added the functions of a theatre. It incorporated the theatrical movement of people into an architectural scheme conceived as a world of symbols and rites. This architectural scheme was  communicated in the ephemeral and symbolized by the yali , the waterside mansions which were monument to hedonist life on the waterfront, and by the binis, the processional paths taken in daily visits to kiosks, pavilions and gardens along the Bosphorus.
In this study the interaction between innovation and tradition introduced on the architectural space of the waterfront is explored. Through primary Ottoman and European sources addressing the lives of people vho made an aestheticized way of living possible at a time of social unrest, this study focused on the activities and aspirations of tl1e Ottomans in their withdrawal to the country. The formal development of the waterfront residence vas located in this practice as having a separate, distinct and contained existence and objective.

Sabanci University, Istanbul,
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

http://myweb.sabanciuniv.edu/tulay/

 

 

MIT
SMArchS

2002

Emergent design:  Rethinking contemporary mosque architecture in light of digital technology
In the digital age many notions which we take for granted, such as distance, time and space have changed dramatically. This change in perception introduces new metaphors and understandings which require a new mosque architecture to evolve that corresponds to the 'spirit of the time.'
The virtual space creates opportunities for new kinds of interaction and communication. Now the 'village well' is the computer interface which connects us with the rest of the world. How can these emerging notions enrich and shape mosque architecture? How would it affect and/or change existing metaphors? How can new mosque architecture transform existing practices and rituals without falling astray to theological teachings? What kind of social, cultural and religious implications would it bear?
The thesis is divided in three main parts; first it questions the holistic mosque paradigm and explains the accumulation of religious architectural elements over centuries, second it investigates the Kocatepe Mosque experience in Turkey in more detail, which shed light onto the evolutionary process of the praying space and finally proposes a new mosque paradigm which converges virtual and physical spaces.

Imdat is an architect and a research professor at Istanbul Technical University, where he holds the prestigious TUBITAK fellowship (Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey). After receiving his Master of Science in Architectural Studies at MIT as an Aga Khan fellow, he pursued a doctoral degree from Harvard GSD. He co-authored Dynamic Digital Technologies in Architecture: Visions in Motion (Taylor & Francis, 2008), where he published his dissertation work. In 2009, he founded Arcbazar.com, a first-of-its-kind crowdsourcing platform for architectural design projects. Arcbazar completed thousands of architectural design projects all around the world and became one of the “Top 100 Most Brilliant Companies” by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2014. His research interests include digital media, ar/vr applications, crowdsourcing, and artificial intelligence in architectural design and research. Currently, Imdat is working on the “Future City Project” in Istanbul, which is sponsored by a grant from TUBITAK, and is co-authoring two books -- one for Taylor & Francis and the other for Elsevier -- to explore how AI has been deployed in research and design at the architectural and urban design levels, respectively.

Asfour, Khaled

MIT
SMArchS

1987

Dealing with the Incompatible!
The thesis attempts to study the urban structure of a traditional quarter in Cairo through a sociological point of view. In order to pursue this study it is necessary to understand the relationship between the built form and its users. From this understanding stems the approach of how to discern the social study in a way that could be useful and apprehendable to the architect. Before undertaking the case study, examples of other sociological studies are extracted to demonstrate the connection between behavioral patterns of the users and their built environment. These preliminary examples show how the built form, together with the disposion of its elements, could be understood through social studies.The problem facing the architect that will be revealed through the research is that the social scientist mainly deals with different layers of interactions between the members of the community, without showing how this interaction resonates with the built form. Consequently the architect may find a great difficulty in trying to incorporate social studies into design criteria. And from there, the sense of incompatiblity emerges. In this regard, the research attempts to bridge the gap created by the lack of communication between the two disciplines: social science and urban design.

Completed S.M.Arch.S in 1987 and PhD in 1991 from MIT, Khaled is specialized in theory and criticism of architecture. In next seven years, he taught in KFU of Saudi Arabia, and traveled in the Gulf and North Africa searching for architectural excellence. He wrote intensively on the subject which qualified him to became the editor responsible for Arab entries in Dizionario della' architettura del XX secolo (Turin) and in a world book on Architecture and Identity (TU Berlin). He was a research fellow at Harvard University for several months. He was one time a technical reviewer for Aga Khan Award for Architecture. He sat on international juries in American University of Sharja, Bahrain University, Liechtenstein University, Riyadh Development Authorities, and Hassan Fathy Award. On a professional level he has been a consultant to projects such as Palm Hills Egypt developments and Mekka Expansion. He is currently teaching in MIU - Cairo and the university consultant for academic development.
Masters Thesis: Dealing with the Incompatibles.
Ph.D. Dissertation: The Villa and the Modern Egyptian Intelligentsia: Critique of Conventionalism

MIT
SMArchS

1988

Architecture as evocation of place: Thoughts on an architectural "beginning" in Bangladesh
This thesis is a trajectory of a quest of trying to understand certain fundamental notions of architecture, triggered initially by the cultural conditions of Bangladesh: How does an architectural position really find 'validation'? What is the significant meaning of architectural "appropriateness"? And, how does an artifact fit into place? The key idea of the investigation is that place is not merely a physical but also a psychic reality; it is the basic strata of "collective consciousness" that provides identity and psychic security. Place denotes an 'existential structure', formed by material and immaterial entities, in the palpable, the conscious and the 'unconscious' realm, from which its dwellers draw the meaning and relevance of their collective action and existence. In the study here, it is argued that it is the role of architecture to "concretize" or "exteriorize" this 'existential structure', and thus reinforce the dimension of place. Place, as a continuous repository of "artifacts" and "human events", can provide the instrumental and material tool for the making of such architecture. The investigation, in conclusion, attempts to find how can the repository be tapped, within the domain of design, so that not only the immaterial dimension is engaged, but also the 'new' artifact evokes and becomes a new deposit to the place-repository

SMArchS (MIT, 1987), PhD (University of Pennsylvania, 2001; dissertation: "The Hermit's Hut: A Study in Asceticism and Architecture").
Taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Pratt Institute, Temple University. Currently associate professor and undergraduate chair at the School of Architecture, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Publications:
The Hermit's Hut: Asceticism and Architecture in India (University of Hawaii Press, in press).
The Idea of Hometown (in preparation).
Made In India, Architectural Design Special Issue (John Wiley, 2007).
Sherebanglanagar: Louis Kahn and the Making of a Capital Complex, with Saif Ul Haque (Loka, 2001).
Architecture of Independence: The Making of Modern South Asia, with James Belluardo (Architectural League of New York and Princeton Architectural Press, 1997).
Pundranagar to Sherebanglanagar: The Architecture of Bangladesh, with Raziul Ahsan and Saif Ul Haque (Chetana, 1997).
National Capital of Bangladesh (GA Edita, 1994).
Articles in Architectural Design, Journal of Architectural Education, RES, MIMAR, FORUM, and others.
Curated exhibitions:
"Capital Complexity: The Work of Louis Kahn in Dhaka," Philadelphia, 2002.
"An Architecture of Independence: The Making of Modern South Asia," traveled to New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston and Chicago, 1997-98.
Positions:
Chair, Kenneth F. Brown Architecture Design Award, University of Hawaii, 2003-.
Member, Editorial Board, Journal of Architectural Education, 2007-2010.
Member, Advisory Committee, Shangri La The Doris Duke House, Honolulu, 2004-07.
Selected private practice in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Kazi K. Ashraf
Associate Professor and Undergraduate Chair
School of Architecture
University of Hawaii at Manoa
2410 Campus Road
Honolulu, HI 96822

Assassa, Khalil

MIT
SMArchS

 

 

Autorino, Salvatore

MIT
SMArchS

1994

Memory of Islam: Culture and politics in sixteenth-century religious architecture of Mexico and Peru
This thesis presents a comparative study of two church typologies employed in the Spanish American colonies during the sixteenth century. The first, developed in Mexico, is the Open Chapel; the second, which I call "Lateral" Church, was very common in Peru and is characterized by the shift of the main entrance from the front to the side of the nave. Their interest lies in the fact that, in a context marked by the spread of Renaissance architecture in Europe and in the American colonies, they represent two among the most anti-classical examples of churches. Furthermore, they are interesting because their anti-classicism can be referred back to the Islamic civilization, which had strongly shaped the history and culture of the Iberian peninsula in eight centuries of continuous presence. The comparison between two different, and not even contemporary contexts aims to reveal of the modifications of cultural expressions in relation to varying degrees of political control. Mexico and Peru, in fact, were discovered, conquered, and populated with different modalities and in different periods within the sixteenth century. This study reaches the following conclusions: 1) Both the Mexican Open chapels and the Peruvian "Lateral" churches reflect, at various degrees, the adoption of a concept of space borrowed from the Hispano-Islamic tradition. 2) The use of such spatial concepts diminishes and becomes very subtle towards the end of the sixteenth century. This phenomenon is tightly related to the re-structuring of the relation Islam and Christendom in Europe, which, in turn, is the result of another process, the "invention" of European cultural identity. In the Americas, in fact, the spread of classic architecture was not only the symbol of the imposition of a new system of power, but also a test for the self-definition of Europe itself. 3) The development of these types in the New World has two overlapping layers of interpretation. First, it can be seen as the reflection of the dialectics of power between the Hispano-Islamic collective cultural heritage and the imperialistic agenda of the colonization, which employed authority and control as its main subjugation tools. Second, it can be seen as a conscious appropriation of forms essentials to the purpose of colonization. These church-types were adopted to display the social and ethnic inferiority of the Indians in front of the conquistadores. 4) Finally, also for the Indians these churches had a double layer of meaning. On the one hand, they represented the architecture of the Spaniards, and therefore the symbol of their subjugation. On the other, these churches provided the forms through which the Natives re -constructed their own identity, in a context marked by the sudden collapse of the traditional cultural structure.

Salvatore Autorino graduated with a SMArchS degree in 1994 with the thesis, "Memory of Islam: Culture and Politics in 16th-century Religious Architecture in Mexico and Peru." While at MIT, Mr. Autorino continued to run his one-man firm out of Napoli. After graduating, however, Mr. Autorino moved to Kingston, Jamaica, where he was a design manager with Edward Young and Associates. He remained in Jamaica until 2000, working with Michael Lake and Associates before co-founding aws.architects, a firm which focused on residential and small commercial buildings. Simultaneously, Mr. Autorino worked with the Carribean School of Architecture to help develop the academic aspects of their Bachelor Program as well as teaching both there and at UNPHU in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Mr. Autorino then returned to Napoli where he founded the architectural firm Spark. For the early part of 2001, he was in Brazil working as a freelance architect with Andre Sa and Francisco Mota Arquitectos in Salvador da Bahia on a master plan for an urban revitalization project in Salvador. In May of 2001, Salvatore moved back to Italy to work with OfCA in Caserta, with whom her participated in a competition on the revitalization of the medieval town of Santa Maria a Monte in Siena and a competition for the new museum of Shi-Ga in Azuma, Japan. Last year Salvatore Autorino returned to Spark and has worked in such projects as the master plan for a tourist resort in Honduras, a design competition for an urban center prototype in Japan and a residential project in Bishkek, Kyrghystan. When he isn’t working, Mr. Autorino enjoys writing, tennis, swimming and running.

Badshah, Akhtar

MIT
SMArchS

1983

Interventions into old residential quarters: The case of Shahjahanabad
This thesis develops design guidelines for in- terventions into residential quarters of the old core cities in the Third World. Their pur- pose is to provide a suitable framework for developing residential designs maintaining the characteristics of the traditional environment without restricting the aesthetic commitments of the designer.
A clearly defined area within Shahjahanabad, the walled city of Delhi, was studied, identi- fying change currently taking place in their physical, social and economic aspects. Three cases are described to illustrate the various components of the walled city as a whole. Two are traditional areas; the third is a new de- velopment to which they are compared.
On the basis of these studies, which identified the formal elements both within the urban fabric and within some typical houses, the set of de- sign guidelines was then developed. The prototypical design then tests out some of those guidelines.
The thesis concludes that when intervening in a traditional environment, the designs must in-corporate the functional demands of a changing society, adapt to the occupants' needs, and react to social pressures, if social, economic, and functional obsolescence is to be avoided.
The guidelines developed are designed for use both by practitioners seeking to improve the traditional environment and by planners and government agencies contemplating intervention in traditional quarters of old cities.

Dr. Akhtar A. Badshah completed both a S.M.Arch.S degree, in 1983, and a Ph.D., in 1993, through the AKPIA at MIT. His thesis and dissertation were, respectfully, "Interventions into old residential quarters: the case of Shahjahanabad," and "Sustainable and equitable urban environments in Asia." Dr. Badshah has taught at MIT, Roger William College, and the University of Washington, has authored Our Urban Future: New Paradigms for Equity and Sustainability (London: Zed Books, 1996) as well as several articles addressing urbanism, housing and development, has conducted international conferences and has consulted for many international development organizations. He is the recipient of the New England Chapter of the AIA Award for Low-Income Housing and Mentorship Project in Lowell, Massachusetts. His more recent projects include Global Classmates, the Social Venture Fund and the Social Enterprise Laboratory, which seek out innovative information technology projects with high social benefits. Currently, Dr. Badshah is the co-Founder and Executive Director of the Digital Partners Institutes in Seattle, Washington. www.digitalpartners.org

Bagchee, Nandini

MIT
SMArchS

2000

Book illumination and architectural decoration: The Mausoleum of Uljaytu in Sultaniyya
This thesis examines the conventions of two-dimensional articulation in architecture and its relationship to book illumination in early fourteenth century Iran. By examining the illuminations in a series of imperial Qurans copied in the first quarter of the fourteenth- century and comparing them to the architectural decoration of contemporaneous buildings in Ilkhanid Iran, the thesis proposes that it is the rigor of geometric elaboration in two-dimensional planes that make such a comparison across media plausible. The taste for increasingly complex two-dimensional geometric extrapolations and the creation of layered surfaces, such as those exhibited in the decorative designs of the Mausoleum of Uljaytu in Sultaniyya, Iran, ultimately engender a perception of architecture that alludes visually to an rendition of two dimensional space that is common to both painting and architecture.

Nandini Bagchee is a practicing Architect and an Assistant Professor at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer College of Architecture at the City College of New York. As the head of her practice, Nandini has undertaken residential, institutional and commercial projects. Her architectural work and research has gained recognition in recent years and has been exhibited in New York and abroad. In 1999, her proposal for the Petrosino Park was exhibited at the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York. In 2003, her entry for the Great Egyptian Museum in Cairo was published in a catalog put together by the museum. She has also been involved in installation works and designed a stage set for the Opera , "Il Sogno di Una Notte di Mezza Estate" performed in Citta Del Pieve in Italy in 2007.
Her current research focuses on architecture, urbanism and history in the Middle East and Asia. Her seminar on "World Cities" is offered to both Graduate and Undergraduate students at City College. She brings this understanding of culture, nature and history to her design practice and teaching.
In 2009, Nandini Bagchee was awarded a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to coordinate an architectural Competition "Peace Pentagon: A Call to Action". The work from this competition was exhibited in multiple venues in downtown Manhattan, creating a public forum to investigate the nature of activism and architecture in New York.
In addition to the City College, Nandini Bagchee has taught and lectured at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany, the New York institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design and The University of The Arts in Philadelphia. Nandini holds degrees from the Cooper Union (B. Arch 1993) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (SM Arch 2000).

Basrai, Zameer

MIT
SMArchS

2009

The New Citizens: A Study in architectural identity of public philanthropic institutions built by two Isma`ili communities in contemporary Bombay
Just across the railway lines at Charni road, forming a backdrop to the Marine Drive, stands the Saifee Hospital in all its splendor. Across the city in the neighborhood of Mazgaon, nestled behind the St. Mary’s school along the central railway line, and in an equal splendor, stands the Center of Excellence, Diamond Jubilee High School. Both buildings were built in the last five years. Both use a similar quantity of glass and cement plaster and establish their contemporaneity so. Both institutions were built by Shi’i Isma’ili communities, the hospital by the Bohras and the school by the Khojas. Both buildings represent a significant phase in the history of these mercantile communities in Bombay where their emergence as public philanthropists echoes the rapid increase in wealth and the creation of global diasporic networks in a liberal Indian economy. But while the Saifee hospital is cloaked in its massive pastel colored facade punctured by numerous arched windows and capped by ornamental domes, the Diamond Jubilee High School displays a playful juxtaposition of geometrical forms and volumes with dashes of color composed so as to expose structure and skin. The thesis explains how these two buildings, which have such different appearances, are comparable strategies for expressing Isma’ili communal identity. In Chapter two, I construct a detailed comparison of the two buildings with respect to their location in the city, aspects of siting, faqade, interior, spatial organization, program, client and architect teams.   (cont.) In Chapter three, I investigate and conclude that the two institutions mediate Isma’ili faith, citizenship and mercantilism in architecturally different but functionally comparable ways that respond to the complex social ’condition’ in contemporary Bombay. This thesis thus studies the expression of communal identity through its patronage of public architecture. It claims that architecture is instrumental in the creation, sustenance and subversion of communal identity and is an effective social construction used to communicate within the public sphere. I argue that for post-partition Indian Muslims, to contend with their identity in a rising tide of Hindu nationalism in the country, requires mediation of faith, citizenship and in the case of the Isma’ilis, mercantilism. Isma’ili public philanthropy, I propose, is a mode for expressing this communal identity. I explain Isma’ ili architectural expression as a product of a condition distinctive of contemporary Bombay, where the simultaneous marginalization of the two Isma’ili communities by the Hindus and the other Muslims, creates a space for them to perform within the public sphere.

A practicing architect in Bombay, India since 2006 and an aspiring historian, Zameer Basrai has been involved in the history and historiography of architecture built by urban marginalized communities. His work addresses issues concerning architecture and identity, contemporary marginalization and community conservation.
http://www.coroflot.com/zameer

 

Beshir, Tarek

MIT
SMArchS

1993

Architecture beyond cultural politics: Western practice in the Arabian peninsula
Much of the recent architectural discourse in the Gulf States is permeated by a passionate preoccupation with narratives of identity and self-definition. During the last two decades, these states invited an overwhelming number of western architects to participate in development projects. The work of these architects appears to involve a multitude of interpretations. At one end is the architect’s own theoretical position and autonomous architectural discourse, while at the other end is the cultural and ideological circumstances by which the architect’s work and ideas are received and understood. This study is focused on two institutional buildings designed by two western architects: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Riyadh by Henning Larsen, and the National Assembly in Kuwait by Jam Utzon. A critical reading of texts and representations of these buildings provides a vehicle to expose the explicit and implicit theoretical positions of the two architects and to offer a critique of the cultural politics of identity by which the architect’s work and ideas are received. This study argues that the "discursive practice" and the cultural politics underlying the work of architecture serve to place identity as the centerpiece of discussion which in tum reduces architecture to a set of prevalent characterizations and obscures any meaningful analysis of work and ideas.

Tarek Beshir, founder of TB Architects, has been intimately involved in prestigious domestic and international projects and has undertaken various commissions in architecture, landscaping and interior design. He is a graduate of Cairo University and received his Masters degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and his postgraduate studies from Harvard University in landscaping.
Tarek Beshir began his professional career in the architecture department of Cairo’s Dar Al Handasah. His aptitude for landscaping however developed at a later stage when he received his first assignment aimed at designing the landscape of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina in Saudi Arabia. Over time and with each new assignment, Beshir’s natural penchant for nature and affinity to plants and outdoor environments grew. Landscape design has now become an integral part of Beshir’s profession and his services have evolved to encompass all facets of architecture, from landscaping to interior design. A pioneer in landscape architecture in Egypt, Beshir is currently one of the most prominent in the field.
During the early 90s, Tarek Beshir traveled to Chicago, where he worked for Perkins & Will, one of the world’s leading consulting firms. There, he gained a wealth of experience in creating luxury hotel and resort facilities, parks and gardens, corporate office buildings and residences. In 1994, Tarek Beshir returned to Cairo to establish his own full service architecture firm. Today, with more than fifteen years of experience and extensive international exposure in the Middle East and the U.S., Tarek Beshir holds a comprehensive portfolio of high profile initiatives, all infused with his unique sense of creativity, pragmatism and professionalism.
Tarek Beshir has been granted MIT & Aga Khan awards for academic excellence and another grant to travel and study the urban fabric of the old city of Fez (Morocco) in June 1992. When Beshir is not dedicating time to the growth and development of his firm, he spends time with his family and enjoys travelling around the world. He also has a passion for music and photography.

Bhalla, Arunjot Singh

MIT
SMArchS

1994

Ordering the land: Urban metaphors for a park in Cairo
This study proposes a method for the design of a contemporary urban park on the eastern edge of the Old City in Cairo. Precedents in park design are briefly explored with a focus on the relation of the park to the city. The urban fabric of the Old City is analyzed in detail to extract metaphors, models and principles that can serve to devise an ordering framework for the park. The design as it emerges is informed by two themes - the site as an urban quarter of the city and the park as palimpsest. The intention is to create a framework that will place the site securely in relation to its geographical locale and to its historic context.

Arunjot S. Bhalla graduated from the SMArchS program in 1994 with his thesis on "Ordering the land: Urban Metaphors for a Park in Cairo." Thereafter, Arunjot Bhalla joined RSP Singapore where he was involved in projects ranging from highrise office structures to exhibition centers and residential developments, including the International Technology Park at Bangalore. From 1997 onwards he has been at RSP India as head of the professional team with primary responsibility in design. Arunjot’s major focus has been in the design and development of IT Parks and Software Development Facilities. Design projects include Oracle India Development Center, JP Techno Park, The Millenia, SAP Labs Campus, Motorola Campus and the Palm Springs Residential Development in Bangalore, as well as Capital Tower in Singapore and Sentul Raya Exhibition Center in Kuala Lumpur. As well as interior design work in Bangalore and Hyderabad, Mr. Bhalla has done some urban design work such as the Tourism Development Plan in Visag, Andhra Pradesh, Global Village in Bangalore, and ITC Chirala in Andhra Pradesh. Mr. Bhalla has been living in Bangalore since 1997 with his wife, Gurmeet, who has her own pediatric practice in Bangalore, and his children, Angad, who is two, and Mannat, who was born last year.

Bilsel, Selami Mesut Can

MIT
SMArchS

1996

From scientific framing to architectural reconstruction: The creation of an ideal image at Didyma
The incomplete Temple of Didyma appeared in modem times as a constructed image, as an affirmation of the representative Greek temple. By the turn of the century the remains of the classical Didyma were rediscovered, the temple was redrawn and the site was literally and metaphorically "enframed." Reconstruction of the remains of classical antiquity provided beholders with the physical and aesthetic immediacy of a far distant past. Hence, the immediacy and tangibility of reconstructed images helped to differentiate between the world of the "original" configuration of the remains and that of their later existence.
Given that the construction of architectural knowledge has rarely been questioned at Didyma, this study inquires into the codification of the remains of antiquity into the domain of the discipline of architecture, which ultimately differentiated the architectural product of a certain "golden age" from the historical processes in which it accumulated its meaning. The 1895-1896 "Beaux Arts" excavations and reconstruction seem to be the most representative example of such a codification. By the end of the 19th century reconstruction drawings represented the "unfinished" temple of Didyma in a complete form that has never been "achieved" in antiquity, while the excavations physically demolished the contemporary village surrounding the temple. Culminating with Hausoullier's and Pontremoli's representations, the reconstruction work metaphorically restarted the building at the point where it was interrupted in the late 4th century AD and transformed it into a finished, framed picture. Therefore, central to this study is a questioning of a 19th century scientific methodology in the uncovering and reassembling of architectural fragments which would ultimately take their place in the construction of an a priori image. But the study equally raises a more general question about the "framing" of the historical sites for "understanding" architecture and how this understanding might obscure the impetus of other historical and contextual concerns.
In terms of historical interpretation, we have to clarify that the "modern" temple of Didyma exists today in the way it is represented. Just as the construction of the ideal image of Didyma has its historicity, the interpretation undertaken by this study is also bound by our own temporal world and takes a position vis-a-vis the Beaux-Arts reconstruction. Beyond the aim of an "objective" reconstruction, this study intends to put the fragments of historical evidence together with later representations.            Its aim, in other words, is to contribute to a "fusion" of discourses and interpretations in Western Anatolia. It is an attempt to claim the importance of site-specific concerns as opposed to all-encompassing, culture deterministic theories; an attempt for specificity without closure and inclusiveness without dispersion.

Can Bilsel is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Art at the University of San Diego. Having graduated from the S.March.S. program in 1996, Bilsel completed his doctorate at Princeton University’s School of Architecture. He received a number of awards including the Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities, and was a Getty Fellow in Los Angeles for two consecutive years in 2000-2002. In Summer 2007 he was invited as a visiting scholar to the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. Bilsel’s recent scholarship engages the workings of the historiography of art and architecture. He is most interested in key moments when, thanks either to a major archaeological discovery or a rearrangement of an archive, the past becomes intelligible to modern viewers in a new way. His forthcoming book “Antiquity on Display: Techniques of the Authentic in Berlin’s Pergamon Museum” (Oxford University Press, 2010) seeks to contribute to historiography by interrogating the German reconstructions of Middle Eastern antiquities. By organizing his discussion of archaeological reconstructions around the theme of authenticity he intends to contribute to opening a public debate concerning the preservation of historic heritage. Bilsel’s most recent work on archaeology, modernism and nation building includes a long article, “Our Anatolia: Organicism and the Making of the Humanist Culture in Turkey,” published by Harvard University’s journal of Islamic art, Muqarnas (Brill, 2007).

Brotherton, Richard

MIT
HTC PhD

ABD

 

Richard Brotherton is an Architect; he has worked since 1989 in New York City, both with the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Department of Design and Construction, where he is presently Director of the Courts Program Unit.
He was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, worked in Jerusalem with the British School of Archaeology, and studied at the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property in Rome. Various presentations to Learned Societies while at MIT focused on the architectural role of the muqarnas, while his contribution to the first GSD Darb al-Ahmar, Cairo, Urban Design Studio included an early articulation of the idea for al-Azhar park.

MIT
SMArchS

1983

Transformation of traditional design concepts into contemporary architecture
The primary aim of this thesis is to explore the design concepts of traditional architecture in Anamur, Turkey, and to make an attempt to incorporate the design patterns extracted from traditional houses into contemporary architecture. First, the traditional and contemporary architectural concepts and their present conditions are explained briefly in relation to the country and the town. Second, the case-study of Anamur's traditional houses is introduced with their measured drawings. Third, an attempt is made to extract the design patterns of three traditional houses, and fourth, an experiment is made to generate a house of both traditional and contemporary concepts.

 

Carr, James

MIT
SMArchS

1994

Collaborative process and the transformation of the urban environment: Wall, street, and scaffolding on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston
This thesis addresses two questions: how to develop a process of collaborative building in cities, and what kind of public places to make in cities. More generally: how can urban dwellers re-engage with urban architecture in a meaningful and vital way? In response to these questions it is proposed that architects must help to define ways that people can directly collaborate in experiments to redefine their environment. An approach is suggested to bring the process of making together with the design of the place by designing "pieces of the process." An architectural "vocabulary" is put forward that can be used in on-site collaborations to develop alternatives and to build zones of community interaction and reconciliation of civic life. This vocabulary is made up of both build-able form and an awareness of the cultural capacities for use and meaning of architecture. It attempts to enrich the dynamic language of architecture which already exists in the social life of communities, and to address that language to the goal of enriching the life of the city.

James Carr, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP is an architect with thirteen years of experience dedicated to developing beautiful and effective design solutions for a wide range of project types, including educational facilities and green buildings. A LEED 2.0 Accredited Professional since 2002, Mr. Carr works to design projects that are environmentally responsive in every aspect. Recently completed projects include a 54 kW roof-mounted solar PV array for the Charles River ARC in Needham, and green-building consulting for renovation of a Department of Conservation and Recreation facility on the Cape Cod Canal. Prior to starting his own firm in 2004-- James Carr, architecture & design-- Mr. Carr Co-Chaired the Greening Committee at Flansburgh, Associates in Boston, where he was Project Architect and led the sustainability initiative for the 90,000SF William F. Stanley Elementary School in Waltham--the only LEED Certified public school building in Massachusetts--among other projects. Mr. Carr is a Co-author of the Coalition for High Performance Schools Best Practices Manual and Design Guide , Massachusetts Version. ©2002. This comprehensive guide to designing a green school includes an extensive technical manual and covers every aspect of high performance school construction. In San Francisco in the 1990's Mr. Carr worked on the design of both rural and urban schools, co-founded an organization-- 218Trees-- to preserve urban open space, and served on the Parks and Open Space Circle of Sustainable San Francisco. Mr. Carr has been a Guest speaker at Brandeis University in the Environmental Studies Department, is a Registered Architect in Massachusetts, New York & California, and is a graduate of MIT and Columbia University.

Chowdhury, Asiya

MIT
SMArchS

1993

The persistent metaphor: Gender in the representations of the Cairene house by Edward W. Lane and Hassan Fathy
This thesis is developed as a critical study of the representations of the Cairene house in the contexts of colonial and post-colonial times. Based on the observation that the introverted image of the house remains constant over the two eras, it explores the underlying cultural agendas with relation to the issue of gender segregation in the house. The two canonical representations of the house in their respective times; by Edward W. Lane in mid 19th century and by Hassan Fathy in mid and late 20th century, defined the Cairene house with constant thematic focus on its introverted character. This inwardness is inextricably related with the social practice of separation of genders in the Cairene society which was addressed in both representations in varying degrees. In colonial representation, the focus on the introverted character of the Cairene house became a venue for commenting on the social practice of subjugating woman in the Cairene society.    Certain selected type of urban residences affirmed the colonial thesis of segregation of woman in the house. Thus the representation showed an overt emphasis on harem quarter and its associated architectural and spatial elements. The harem was highlighted to assert the difference between the social norms of the colonized and the colonizing cultures. The Middle Eastern society was thus categorically reduced to a segregative and inferior Other which in reciprocity defined the liberal and superior identity of the colonizing West. The post-colonial representation perpetuated the same introverted image of the Cairene house to establish an Arab identity. This identity is anti-western, which looked for its precedents in examples considered uncontaminated by the western Influence. Climatic and social rationalization established the same interiority as appropriate and contextual. In this reversal of connotation, segregation became privacy.    The anti-colonial rhetoric of identity of the self is both a reaction to and a derivation from the colonial representation of the Other. The post-colonial search for identity paradoxically ends up in replicating the colonial image of the Cairene house. The post-colonial representation of the Cairene house exploits the traditional and segregated role of woman in the domestic space in establishing an anti-western identity. This speaks of an internal male-female power hierarchy, as Asish Nandy observes, " ... the internal colonialism in turn uses the fact of external threat to legitimize and perpetuate itself." Caught in the politics of identity, the representations of the Cairene house affirmed the secluded existence of woman in the society.

 

Cipriani, Barbara

MIT
SMArchS

2005

 

Development of construction techniques in the Mamluk domes of Cairo
This dissertation reconstructs the building features, the construction methods and the esthetic and structural changes of the Mamluk Mausolea in Cairo (1250-1517 A.D.); a special attention is dedicated to the domes that cover all the Mausolea and that represent an example of high expertise in Mediaeval architecture. This works document several stages of their construction from the Mausoleum of As- Sawabi, 1285 A.D. to the Funerary Complex of Amir Qurqumas, 1506 A.D. through bibliographic sources, photographic material and restoration reports collected in several libraries and archives where information on the topic is stored. Moreover, three Mausolea belonging to the period of construction in stone: Umm Sultan Sha'ban (1369 A.D.), Farag Ibn Barquq (1389-1411 A.D.) and Amir Khayer Bek (1502 A.D.) are fully documented with survey on site, technical drawing and structural analysis.
Through a detailed analysis of the Mausolea, this work aims to answer to wider questions, such as the role of the patronage in the changes of the architectural features, the differences and the similarities in the construction methods and in the structural behavior between complexes belonging to distinct moment of Mamluk History and the transmission of knowledge in the construction world of Mamluk Cairo.

 

Çolakoglu, Birgul

MIT
HTC PhD

2001

Design by grammar: Algorithmic design in an architectural context
An experimental study was performed to explore the practical applicability of the rule based design method of shape grammars. The shape grammar method is used for the analysis and synthesis of the hayat house type in a particular context. In the analysis part, the shape grammar method is used to extract basic compositional principles of the hayat house. In the synthesis part, first the evolution of a new hayat house prototype is illustrated. An algorithmic prototype transformation is considered. This transformation is achieved in two ways: by changing the values assigned to the variables that define the component objects of the form, and by replacing the vocabulary elements of the form with new ones. Then, the application of the rule based design method for housing pattern generation is explored. The design of a housing complex is illustrated using this method.

 

Courcoula, Alexandra MIT
HTC PhD


2022

 

The Benaki Museum in Interwar Greece: Constructing Greek Art & the Greek Nation After the Fall of the Ottoman Empire
This dissertation challenges the scholarly understanding of how Greeks constructed their cultural and national identity.  It does so by studying the Benaki Museum, an important cultural institution founded in Greece in a pivotal moment in history, following the final dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.  Scholars have largely assumed that since the emergence of Greek nationalism in the eighteenth century, modern Greek intellectuals portrayed themselves as “Hellenes” or as the cultural descendants of the Ancient Greeks, and largely eschewed any association with Ottoman culture.  Overlooked in the scholarship, however, is the Benaki Museum, inaugurated in Athens in 1931, which housed vast holdings of Ottoman art which it defined as an integral part of Greek culture.  
In this dissertation I argue that in forming these collections the museum resisted the narratives of cultural decline that were inherent in the dominant “Hellenic” construction of Greek culture and identity.  Namely, it challenged the Orientalist notion that modern Greeks were the degenerate forms of their glorious ancestors who had accrued a “shamefully Turkish patina” over the centuries of Ottoman rule.  I further argue, however, that the museum staged its collections in a manner that artificially divorced Greek culture from Turkish culture, thus reframing Ottoman art – which was the product of an imperial past and of a multiethnic society – as distinctly “national.”  
Finally, I argue that through a process of selective collection and narrative framing, the museum also produced a highly ideological image of the recent Ottoman past to sustain certain myths that were crucial to nation building in the interwar period in Greece.  The museum opened to the public after the crushing Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War of 1919 – 1922, that signaled the failure of Greece’s expansionist vision, and the consequent Exchange of Populations between Greece and the newly founded Turkish state (1923), which brought over a million Ottoman-Christian refugees into Greece. The Benaki Museum continued to bolster the ultimately failed vision of a “Greater Greece,” visually arguing that territories that now formed part of the modern Turkish state were rightfully Greek.  It also portrayed the Ottoman culture of the recently arrived refugees – which in many cases evinced Turkish influence – as constitutive of Greek culture, thus contributing to the process of forging national subjects out of these new Greek populations.

 

Dafedar, Sharmeen Sayed

MIT
SMArchS

2019

What Happens between the Taq and the Old City of Srinagar in Kashmir?
This thesis explores the importance of the traditional building crafts as integral and inextricable parts of traditional architecture, known as the ‘taq’, in the Old City of Srinagar and delves into the question, ‘How does architecture become a platform for the different building crafts and a medium to facilitate their development, and vice versa?’ The study shows the interrelation of Architecture and Craft through five scales of spatial configuration in the old city:  1) the urban context of the city; 2) the streetscapes in it; 3) the Dargahs amidst neighbourhoods; 4) traditional houses in the city; and 5) finally the crafts as they have been practiced individually in incorporated within interior architecture. This approach seeks to understand the relation of Architecture and Craft in Srinagar at different levels and to explore in detail, where the two meet and where they diverge. It is important to explore the intricate interdependency of these systems of spatial expressions and building functions to study their growth and diversification that we see in the old city of Srinagar today. There is ample research on both Traditional Crafts and Architecture in Kashmir as individual and separate topics of study, but this thesis study helps to look at them as cohesive and mutually supportive elements of the traditional built environment in the urban context of the Old City of Srinagar. It explores those relationship through fieldwork and visual methods of studying and enquiring at different spatial scales (e.g. maps at the urban scale and photography and drawing at the architectural scale). The results of the study encourage a new and different way of looking at, and studying, the relationship between architecture and craft in the old city of Srinagar. It synthesizes a framework that can have a broader application to study areas with similar circumstances in other regions of India.

 

Dawood, Azra

 

MIT
SMArchS

2010

Failure to engage: The Breasted-Rockefeller gift of a new Egyptian Museum and Research Institute at Cairo (1926)
In 1926, the United States’ first Egyptologist James Henry Breasted and the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., proposed to build a New Egyptian Museum and Research Institute in Cairo. The Egyptian government ultimately rejected the proposal and the museum was never built as suggested. The project’s failure was attributed to "suspicious" or "irrational" nationalism and "Egyptian vanity." The archives, however, demonstrate otherwise. This thesis analyzes the Breasted-Rockefeller museum’s conception, trajectory and failure, using the team’s lengthy correspondence. The archives show that the project was an early example of U.S. cultural imperialism, disguised as a gift of "Science," from the "Great Democracy of the West," to an Egypt desirous of independence from British and French empires.    Deploying the twin themes of post World War I "opportunity" (political) and "obligation" (civilizational, scientific, philanthropic) to demonstrate the imperial possibilities of the particular political and cultural moment in 1926, Breasted mobilized Rockefeller first and the U.S. State Department later, to pry open the political field in Egypt for U.S. entry through archaeology and appropriation of antiquity. The Breasted-Rockefeller team’s strategy was to create an Anglo- American alliance in the Near East, by beginning with the creation of a private-philanthropic corporation for the New Egyptian Museum, controlled by Western archaeologists, with token Egyptian representation. This ambitious and innovative approach to imperialism was spatially and architecturally revealed in the proposed museum’s design and in its location in Cairo. That this project failed when it would succeed in later iterations elsewhere, is to be ascribed both to the lack of U.S.    power against competing British and French imperialisms at this early stage, as well as to Egyptian nationalism, which identified the Breasted-Rockefeller proposal for the imperial project that it was, and which had begun to recognize Egyptian antiquity as a metaphor for nationalism.

Azra Dawood completed her Ph.D. in architectural history, with a focus on American philanthropy, postcolonial architecture and urbanism, and the politics and aesthetics of religion. Her dissertation, “Building Protestant Modernism: John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the Architecture of an American Internationalism (1919 -1939),” investigates Rockefeller’s architectural patronage between the two World Wars, with a special emphasis on the construction of International Student Houses in the U.S. and France, and museums and dig-houses for the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute in the Middle East. By focusing on their patron’s theological ideology, Azra conceptualizes these eclectic and wide-ranging projects into a coherent oeuvre.
Azra has worked as an architect in Karachi, Austin, and New York. She received a BArch from the University of Texas at Austin (2001) and an SMArchS from MIT (2010). Her work has been presented at MIT, Columbia University's Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture and other venues, and her research has been supported by the SOM Foundation, the Rockefeller Archive Center, and other institutions.
Dawood, Azra MIT
HTC PhD

2019
Building Protestant Modernism: John D. Rockefeller Jr. and theArchitecture of an American Internationalism (1919-1939)
In the years following the First World War, American philanthropist and heir to the Standard Oil fortune, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., financed a vast body of cultural, social, and scientific projects at home and abroad: museums, student housing, research institutes, and archaeological excavations were all presented as sites of equitable cultural exchange, intellectual cooperation, and shared world heritage. Combining religious history with architectural and urban-spatial analyses of the buildings and landscapes associated with these projects, this dissertation shows that Rockefeller’s putatively secular promotion of culture and science was, in fact, a visible outcrop of an extensive—and as yet unexcavated—theopolitical program to counter “savage” nationalisms around the globe and the spread of a ‘godless’ communism. 
Narratives of modernization, with their emphasis on rationalism and science, have rendered the study of religion and theology as otherworldly, ‘strange’ concerns in discussions of the Western public sphere and its cultural production. Focusing on two little-known projects that represent Rockefeller’s wide international audience and geopolitical interests, I show that, in seeking to knit together a fractious world while maintaining American Protestantism’s hegemony, Rockefeller and his advisors attempted to reconcile religion with science, present a modern ‘Christian’ capitalism as grounds for successful internationalism, and particularize Christianity to the conditions of non-Western sites. Presenting evidence of these maneuverings in the non-ecclesiastical buildings Rockefeller instrumentalized towards his goals, I show how the architecture associated with these secular projects is, in fact, built around religious concerns. Rockefeller’s financial sponsorship of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago—and its museums and archaeological expedition-houses in Cairo, Megiddo, and other important biblical and geopolitical sites in the former Ottoman territories—sought to put Christianity on a firm evidentiary basis while simultaneously offering the region’s nationalists a ‘disinterested,’ scientific American leadership in place of European imperialism. Meanwhile, in the U.S. and France, Rockefeller built International Student Houses, which interpreted America as a model of economic prosperity and industrial justice to doubtful students from China and other modernizing nations, and presented theological modernism as the bedrock for these values. 
To demonstrate that these controversial ideas could be a natural fit for ‘hostile’ regions, both at home and abroad, Rockefeller and his architects attempted to harmonize their buildings within the ‘vernacular’ environments of the different geo-political sites into which they landed. This strategy has resulted in an eclectic, architecturally historicist group of buildings that can easily obfuscate the logic behind Rockefeller’s patronage as well as its relative successes and failures. Positing Rockefeller as an author of the built environments he financed, and focusing on these projects’ urban-spatial interfaces, I show how his theopolitical ideology coheres architecturally diverse projects into a rational—and imperial—oeuvre. In the process, my work forces a reconceptualization of the role of the patron in contemporary architectural history. 
Azra Dawood completed her Ph.D. in architectural history, with a focus on American philanthropy, postcolonial architecture and urbanism, and the politics and aesthetics of religion. Her dissertation, “Building Protestant Modernism: John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the Architecture of an American Internationalism (1919 -1939),” investigates Rockefeller’s architectural patronage between the two World Wars, with a special emphasis on the construction of International Student Houses in the U.S. and France, and museums and dig-houses for the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute in the Middle East. By focusing on their patron’s theological ideology, Azra conceptualizes these eclectic and wide-ranging projects into a coherent oeuvre.
Azra has worked as an architect in Karachi, Austin, and New York. She received a BArch from the University of Texas at Austin (2001) and an SMArchS from MIT (2010). Her work has been presented at MIT, Columbia University's Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture and other venues, and her research has been supported by the SOM Foundation, the Rockefeller Archive Center, and other institutions.

Datey, Aparna

MIT
SMArchS

1996

Cultural production and identity in colonial and post-colonial Madras, India
All cultural production is a consequence of its context and is infused with meaning and identit. A preoccupation with the visual and symbolic aspects of architectural form and its cultural meaning has led to an increased autonomy of the architectural object. This thesis posits that architectural forms do not have fixed, unchanging and singular meanings, but that they acquire meaning in particular contexts- historical, social, cultural and political. Certain forms or stylistic motifs, acquire, embody or are perceived to represent the identity of a nation or cultural groups within a nation. The confluence of a search for 'Indianness' and the post-modem thought in architecture is a paradoxical aspect of the recognition of the autonomy of architecture.
In the contemporary India, the search for a 'Tamil' identity, may be perceived as an attempt to create a distinct, regional identity as opposed to the homogenous and universal national identity. This is similar to the creation of a 'British-Indian' identity as opposed to the western one, by the British, in the last quarter of the 19th century. In this attempt to create a regional identity, the same or similar regional architectural forms and stylistic motifs were the source and precedent to represent both 'Tamil' and 'British-Indian' identity. This would imply that the forms do not have a singular meaning but that they are embodied with meaning and symbolism in particular contexts. This is exemplified by a trans-historical comparison between two colonial and contemporary buildings in Madras, South India. The Post and Telegraph Office, 1875-84 (Architect: Robert Chisholm) and the Law Court, 1889-92 (Architect: Henry Irwin) represent the two trends within 'Indo-Saracenic' architecture. The former draws precedents primarily from local, regional and classical Hindu temple architectural traditions while the latter from the 'Indo-Islamic' Mughal architectural tradition. The Valluvar Kottam Cultural Center, 1976-8 (Architect: P. K. Acharya) and the Kalakshetra Cultural Center, 1980-2 (Architects: M/s. C. R. Narayanarao & Sons) represent the search for an indigenous 'Tamil' architecture. The sources for the former are primarily from the Dravidian style classical Hindu temple architecture of the region while the latter is inspired by the local and regional traditions. Paradoxically, the same or similar forms manifest opposing ideals, and represent colonial and post-colonial identities, respectively.

Aparna Datey recently joined the Center for international Education at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee as an Academic Programs Coordinator for the Global Studies program which is an interdisciplinary program focusing on the impacts of globalization.
After completing her SMarchS in 1996, she worked as an architect at Niles Bolton Associates in Atlanta, GA and has taught design studios at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta and at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

DeCosta, Alfred

MIT
SMArchS

1989

A reinterpretation of "sense of place": A study of the Stone Town of Zanzibar
This thesis attempts to understand the evolution of the Stone Town of Zanzibar, an urban fabric that had undergone a phase of upheaval that was brought about by a brief period of rapid change in its political, social and economic structure. The relevance of the investigation lies mainly in the historical context of the urban fabric under study and in its unique cosmopolitan identity. These two factors direct the focus of attention to the 'cumulative consciousness' of this urban environment that manifests itself in the various diverse elements that form what has been called the 'core' of a 'place'. The 'core' is examined as a potential tool that could be utilized to generate a reinterpretation of the 'sense of place' in a socially transformed urban fabric. The substance of this reinterpretation is directed towards establishing a premise for reinvigorating, by stressing continuity, a stagnant traditional environment Personal reflection on general and particular experiences of 'places' within the area under study constitute the main body of material analysed. The framework for the analysis emerges as an assembly of theoretical and factual data that supports the objective goals of the study. In conclusion, the study is oriented towards reviving a consciousness of the uniqueness of the "place" that is lacking in the current conservation efforts being undertaken within the Stone Town of Zanzibar and that may be exploited in its overall revitalization.

 

Demerdash, Nancy

 

MIT
SMArchS

2009

Mapping myths of the medina: French colonial urbanism, oriental brandscapes and the politics of tourism in Marrakesh
Before the French Protectorate of Morocco was established in 1912, Marrakesh was both a major trading node in North Africa and one of the royal cities in Morocco. Yet as the number of colonists surged and the pieds noirs population settled in the ville nouvelle, Marrakesh’s native inhabitants were relegated to the medina. The French mission civilisatrice bolstered segregationist aims and in the process, manufactured a Moroccan cultural heritage (in contradistinction to the preservation of a French heritage) that served to lure potential emigrants. With its burgeoning tourism industry, this colonial binarization of the urban layout and demography lives on in Marrakesh, resulting in the creation of a medina that is still marketed through an orientalizing lens, heralded as little more than an exotic spectacle. This study seeks to understand the contrived makings of a Moroccan cultural heritage, embodied in the monolithic medina, with respect to urban form. But the colonial constructs of old are far from obsolete; these myths of the medina are being adopted, appropriated, and reinvented by the current Moroccan Ministry of Tourism and its partners to satisfy foreign demand. Consumed in the form of what I call an "Oriental brandscape," Marrakesh is framed and famed to promise hedonistic pleasures. Such perpetuated representational tropes actually materialize the oriental fantasy for the consumer; consequently, Marrakesh has become more of a product than place. This study attempts to highlight that the modem manifestations of Moroccan cultural heritage are not discrete from its colonial constructions.

Nancy Demerdash is beginning her third year in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University, where she is studying nineteenth- and early twentieth-century architecture and urban planning of the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in French colonial contexts. After completing her Honors BA in Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she then went on to complete her S.M.Arch.S. degree in the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For her S.M.Arch.S. thesis, Nancy broadly focused on French colonial urban planning in Marrakesh. Since then, some of Nancy's varied research interests have come to include contemporary Arab art, the historiography of Islamic urbanism, and aesthetics.

MIT
SMArchS

2000

Artificial nature: Water infrastructure and its experience as natural space
This work is about water infrastructure and its experience as urban and natural space. It deals with the concepts of nature/geography, technology, and the integral experiential space by analyzing water dams and reservoirs that are more than utilitarianstructures. These structures at the same embody a space of imagination that unfolds into idealized geographies and nature's in their experience. In the process of formulating the concept of ARTIFICIAL NATURE, an expanded definition of 'built activity' is pursued to embrace landscape/nature, infrastructure, and technology as well as imaginative and mental space. The specific sites of investigation range from Thrace to Central and Southeastern Anatolia in Turkey from 1920-2000.

 

El Hayek, Chantal MIT
SMArchS

2015

The Last Levantine City: Beirut, 1830-1930
My thesis examines the urban transformation of Beirut between 1830 and 1930. Evolving from a local market city importing European goods and exporting local produce into a transit city for the re-export of European commodities, Beirut developed from a quadrilateral of thick crusader walls enclosing a labyrinth of narrow streets into a modern commercial center highlighted by the French-designed Place de l’Étoile. The new center connected the city with the port and with its hinterland through two major thoroughfares lined up with modern office buildings that, for the first time, accommodated underground storage spaces. My core questions are: What made Beirut develop in this direction? Why were the markets centered the way they were?
I argue that the urban transformation of Beirut in the nineteenth century through World War I was a manifestation of a French imperial policy that had been at play a century before the French Mandate. Seeking to extend infrastructural networks, France saw Beirut, particularly through its port, as an economic base that would facilitate trade with the region. ‘Beirut al-Jadida’ (New Beirut) was ultimately created to provide a gateway for France to regain access into the region after an era of decline in French economic dominance in the Levant, in the wake of the Napoleonic Expedition into Egypt and Syria (1798–1801) and the abrogation of the Échelles du Levant system of trade by Ahmad Pasha Al-Jazzar (r. 1775–1804). In the second half of the nineteenth century, with the expansion of the port (1887–1890) and the construction of the carriageway (1857–1863) and railroad (1895) between Beirut and Damascus, French dominance rose once again—this time in a new political (colonial) form.
The French agent intervening in the development of Beirut evolved from it being a financial investor—through private companies sponsoring the silk industry and other trades—in the early nineteenth century, to a major concession holder of various public works in the mid- to late-nineteenth century after the silk trade with the Levant had declined, to a military colonizer in the early twentieth century, when French economic dominance became a governmental pursuit no longer restricted to the operations of private businesses. My thesis seeks to explore how the change over time in economic and political activities, and in the interests of the colonizers in both the pre-colonial and colonial periods, was reflected in urban design and planning of the city.
In my work, I propose a framework of analysis that sees the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century development of Beirut as a continuous process of modernization and engagement with the international economic system in which both the Ottomans and French were invested, contrary to a significant number of scholarly works that tended to partition the city’s history into two separate historical narratives tied to the two governing regimes.

 

el-Husseiny, Mohamed Ahmed

MIT
SMArchS

1987

Genesis and legacy--a study of traditional, contemporary and proposed systems of control over residential developments in Cairo, Egypt
This thesis deals with contemporary residential developments presently being carried out by the formal private sector in Cairo. These developments are typical of many other cities in Egypt, and indeed throughout the Middle-East and other Arab and Muslim countries. The thesis stems from my dissatisfaction with the present morphology generated by the use of certain physical models, as well as the limitations imposed on architectural and urban designs by building laws and regulations that I believe to be inadequate in many ways. In searching for solutions, guidelines, and appropriate concepts, I shall refer to traditional Arab-Islamic environments, which I feel offer a number of interesting principles and concepts from which we may benefit. The study will be carried out based on the premise that "Tradition per se should have no authority, bur it does have value" (Al-Hathloul, 1981, p.11). Therefore I shall also attempt to clarify the reasons and circumstances that have led to - or influenced - the development of traditional built forms, as well as determining how valid and applicable the traditional concepts remain under contemporary conditions. The study will not be limited to historical precedent alone since many of the present conditions of modern life do not have any precedent in traditional environments. Therefore the search will go beyond the boundaries of regional heritage to include other valid references without geographical or historical limitations. The object is to reach a set of guidelines offering an alternative approach to the issues of forming and controlling residential developments in this part of the world. It is hoped that such an approach will prove to be more responsive to local physical conditions, as well as to the socio-cultural values of the communities, and that the proposals therein may contribute to the development of a built environment that is physically and spiritually more fulfilling.

Mohamed El-Husseiny graduated from the Aga Khan Program in 1987 after submitting his thesis, "Genesis and Legacy - a study of traditional, contemporary and proposed systems of control over residential developments in Cairo, Egypt." He has since returned to Cairo, where he now runs his own firm, Mohamed El-Husseiny Architects and Engineers. Over the past few years he has been engaged in the design of private residences, Tourist resorts on the Red Sea coast, and a five-star hospital facility, as well as a K through 12 school in a new development outside of Cairo. In 2001 his Mr. El-Husseiny's team prepared an entry to the Egyptian Ministry of Education's department of academic building competition for the design of multiple public school models to be used contextually throughout Egypt, for which they received second prize on two of their models. Last year, Mr. El-Husseiny teamed up with AKP colleagues Howaida Al-Harithy, Hana Alamuddin, (..* and originally also Khaled Asfour), to produce an entry to the Grand Egyptian Museum architectural competition. On a more personal note, Mohamed lives with his wife, Hedy, who teaches at the Cairo American College, his daughter Kismet, and his son Ahmed, a recent graduate of Cairo University and a budding architect himself.

Elkatsha, Markus

MIT
SMArchS

2000

The evolution of Al-Azhar Street, Al-Qahira, Egypt
The historic quarter of Cairo, al-Qahira, is going through a period intense transformation that is threatening the physical environment as well as the social and economic fabric of the city. The transformations taking place in al- Qahira are threatening the diverse cultural, social and economic makeup of the city that have existed for centuries in an attempt to satisfy the agendas of interest groups external to the existing community that want to capitalize on the city's historic features.
Al-Azhar Street and the surrounding area is at the center of the transformations taking place in Historic Cairo today. Through an analysis of the area, an urban solution will be developed that mediates between the various interest groups acting in al-Qahira today. The intention is to present a physical design that demonstrates a way of addressing the needs of the quarter's existing inhabitants as well as the needs of new interest groups to the area.

Markus ElKatsha graduated from MIT in 2000 with a degree in both Architectural Studies and City Planning. His thesis, entitled "The Evolution of Al-Azhar Street, Al-Qahira, Egypt," investigated ongoing changes to the Old City of Cairo as a result of such developments as the new Aga Khan Park adjacent to Al Azhar University and the tunnel which has re-routed traffic from the 1920s surface artery which bisects the Old City's fabric. Since the fall of 2000, Mr. ElKatsha has been working at Machado and Silvetti Associates in Boston. His design projects there have included the Getty Museum in Malibu, California, the Stone Barns project in Westchester, New York and new construction on the campus of American University Beirut. Competitions that he has been involved in include the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, California as well as the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Elnozahy, Mariam MIT
SMArchS


2022

Visualizing Oil in Aramco World Magazine
In 1949, almost fifteen years after the first oil well was discovered by a group of American wildcatters on the Eastern Peninsula, the Arabian American Oil Company decided to ramp up its public relations campaign by launching a company house magazine. The publication, Aramco World Magazine, was initially produced out of the company’s New York office as a way to communicate company activities to employees. Throughout the decade of the 50s, the magazine’s audience grew and it expanded its scope to cover trivia about the Middle East, world events, lifestyle tips, and, most importantly, oil operations. 

This thesis examines the history of Aramco World, and uncovers how the magazine’s editors and photographers worked towards the company’s public relations aim of creating a “favorable business climate” in the United States. In the 1950s, amidst a slew of threats and criticisms directed at the company, the magazine aimed to aestheticize oil operations while making life afield in Saudi Arabia seem palatable for Aramco employees, their families, and opinion leaders in the United States. To achieve this, the magazine relied most heavily on a cadre of staff photographers hired to capture all aspects of oil operations and company activities. The industrial photography printed in the magazine conveyed the marvel of extractive engineering through portrayals of abstract oil pipes, aestheticized rigs, towering derricks, and heroic managers, all of which created a mystical impression of the world of oil, one defined by the technological sublime and experiences of petromagic. These images conjured a fantasy of oil, one that could appeal to expat employees and their families, and secure the company’s role as a leading global enterprise jointly ruled by the United States and Saudi Arabia.

 

Emami, Farshid

 

MIT
SMArchS

2011

Civic visions, national politics, and international designs: Three proposals for a new urban center in Tehran (1966-1976)
In 1975, Muhammad Reza Shah, the king of Iran, inaugurated the construction of a ceremonial urban center in northern Tehran. The proposed plan, prepared by Llewelyn-Davies International, consisted of a large plaza and two boulevards lined with governmental and commercial buildings-an extravagant project made possible by the 1973 oil boom that quadrupled Iran’s revenue. But the Shah’s vision was never realized: construction was soon halted with the eruption of the protests that led to the fall of the Pahlavi monarchy in 1979. The Llewelyn-Davies plan was not the first proposal for the site. It was initially planned in Tehran’s master plan-prepared jointly by Victor Gruen and Farmanfarmaian Associates (1966-70). In late 1973, Louis Kahn was solicited to prepare a proposal, which was never finished as Kahn died in March 1974. This thesis examines these three proposed plans for a new urban center in Tehran. Through a detailed examination of consultancy reports, architectural drawings and archival documents, the thesis critically analyzes the urban vision and socio-political underpinnings of the projects. Based on the three main roles of the new urban center-civic, national, and international-I interpret the plans as metaphors of urban life; as political tools of nation building in the postwar web of nation-states; and as products of international design currents. The aim is to delineate the ways in which international design currents meshed with the political, social and intellectual context of Iran in the 1970s, a period characterized by authoritarian rule, monarchical nationalism and rapid modernization. Underlying all three proposals was a yearning to create a modernized, acculturated and apolitical urban middle class. The trajectory of these plans demonstrates how the demand for rapid modernization obliterated alternative voices and led, ultimately, to "the tragedy of development."

http://haa.fas.harvard.edu/people/farshid-emami

MIT
SMArchS

2007

Facades of modernity: Image, performance and transformation in the egyptian metropolis
Shifting political, social and cultural landscapes in contemporary Cairo with the triumph of Neolibralism are defining the city’s modem heritage. In order to create a narrative of transformation of architectural production and its entanglement in different social, cultural and political contexts within the city’s history, I will focus on the epicenter of the modem city, wust-el-balad, Downtown. It has recently been appropriated through a dual process of asserting the city’s modem heritage. The first part of this process utilizes popular media such as period-based soap operas, photography exhibitions, literature and film. The second part of the process is through preservation of Cairo’s modem buildings and the drafting of legislation to protect them. Architectural style, ornamentation of frontages (facades), is central to this process of shaping ’modem’ Cairo. The criteria for inclusion into this heritage as practiced by the various committees and authorities explicitly place facades and aesthetics at the top of their selection process. Thus the process of heritization is inscribing a certain image of modernity in Cairo by selective inclusion of certain architectural styles. This thesis traces the constantly shifting image of modernity throughout downtown’s history from its origin in the nineteenth century to its present state in the twenty-first century.   (cont.) In response to the hyper-functional architecture of the 1970s and 1980s accommodating population growth of the capital, architectural trends in the 1990s in Cairo heavily relied on historicism. According to Ashraf Salama, Professor of Architecture at Al-Azhar University, "historicism has been materialized with a strong reference to three main Egyptian cultures: the Pharaonic, the Coptic, and the Islamic." However, in the last decade a new architectural trend is growing in popularity that historicizes an alternative era in Egyptian history, the modern period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thus the study of the state of architectural practice in contemporary Cairo is directly related to the city’s modern origins in the 19th" century. In this thesis I will narrate the making of an architectural and urban aesthetic that is later forgotten by processes of damnation of memory and is recently being nostalgically appropriated by the middle class for the making of new architecture. These processes of making, forgetting and remembering are reflective of the cultural identities of those active in them.

Mohamed graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2005. During his undergraduate years he had diverse work experiences including working for the Jersey City Housing Authority on community housing, for non-profit organizations Concordia in France and Legambiante in Italy working on fort restoration projects, and for artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude on their work The Gates in Central Park, New York City.
Mohamed joined the SMarchS program at MIT immediately following graduating from NJIT. At MIT, he developed his interests in the role of nostalgia and historicism in contemporary Egyptian culture and architecture. This thesis project is the culmination of his work at MIT which he will further develop as a doctoral student at the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Department at New York University beginning Fall 2007.

 

MIT
SMArchS

2011

Women's Places and Spaces in Contemporary American Mosque
There is an ever-present demand for Mosques in American cities to accommodate the more than 8 percent of the American population that are Muslims; the majority of which are American-born Muslims or American converts. However, Muslim-American communities have implemented the same architectural vocabulary of mosques seen in the Middle East into their American neighborhoods. Nevertheless, this architectural transplantation from the Middle East to America does not come without problems. The weaving of Middle Eastern architectural culture with an American application of Islam, which is prominent within Modern American society, gives rise to internal tensions felt within the community, in particular to the issue of Muslim women’s’ place in community mosques. Through the numerous case studies and investigations of the American Mosques that I documented, it is clear that the community does not provide adequate spaces for their women members.    My thesis explores the process of modifying and developing a new architectural vocabulary for the American mosques within the confinements and boundaries in Islam, in particular, creating an adequate space for women. A lack of attention to the needs of American Muslim women in the states has caused a gender conflict over the adequacy of spaces for Muslim women within American mosques. For example, in the 2006 controversial documentary titled the "Mosque of Morgantown"1 , located in West Virginia, a significant dilemma was created dividing the Muslim community residing in the United States. The "Mosque of Morgantown" set the social precedent for some Muslim women to question some of the religious rulings regarding prayers and set the tone for numerous other protests, of which the most recent occurred at the Islamic Center of Washington DC. In early part of 2010, the Islamic Center of Washington D.C.2 had an outburst of escalating tensions between genders. Thirty Washington D.C.    women united in protest and refused to pray in the basement of the mosque, which was their designated area of worship. Instead they decided to attend prayers under the same roof as the men during worship. This seemingly simple act of protest was frowned upon. The Imam of the mosque declared that the allocated rows were for men only. The presence of women in the rows resulted in the delay of the obligatory Friday prayer that is mandatory for men in Islam. Through these incidences, it is clear that an investigation of a new architectural expression, within the confinement of the religion, for women-driven spaces needs to be conducted.

 

Fadan, Yousef

MIT
HTC PhD

1983

The development of contemporary housing in Saudi Arabia (1950-1983): A study in cross-cultural influence under conditions of rapid change
This study provides a framework for understanding the circumstances associated with the introduction of modern housing concepts and techniques to Saudi Arabia. The analysis and discussion of the relevant cultural influences offers a theoretical framework--historically grounded and critically positioned--for explicating the implications for national development of the country's contemporary housing situation and programs. That Saudi Arabia is one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world today is widely recognized both in Saudi Arabia--and abroad. Saudi Arabia is being transformed into a modernized nation in the space of only about ten years, a process that in most Western nations took many decades. Housing construction is taking place everywhere in the country, and entire new cities are being built overnight. In Saudi Arabia, which occupies about four-fifths of the Arabian peninsula, with relatively sparse population the ambitious development plans are inconsistent with the limited local resources. Hence, in order to achieve the ambitious goals set out in the plan, assistance must be sought from outside. As a result, an influx of experts and workers at all levels (highly skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled) have arrived to avail themselves of the immense job opportunities offered in the country. Firms representing varying professional backgrounds have come from every part of the world. Every system and method as well as every building material known is being applied. In the preoccupation with the management of rapid industrialization on a scale of unprecedented magnitude the socio-cultural values of Saudi Arabia and the traditional urban residential patterns to which they have given rise have been sadly overlooked. The case of the traditional houses of Mecca is adduced to indicate that there exists a precedent showing how new building techniques and materials had been gracefully integrated into local building practice. The local master builders knowledge of their own culture, traditions, and natural and human resources enabled them to modify those new techniques and materials, adapting them to local needs without undermining local socio-cultural values. It is therefore theoretically possible once again to address the challenge of the new -- needs and technology -- while minimizing cultural disintegration and loss.

 

Fischer, Rio MIT
SMArchS


2017
Aesthetics of the Qur’anic Epigraphy on the Taj Mahal
This thesis examines the Qur'anic epigraphic program of the Taj Mahal. Following the 1989 Begley & Desai book Taj Mahal: on Illustrated Tomb, the flourish of scholarship that would expectedly follow a complete epigraphical catalog never arrived. Despite being well-known and universally cherished as indicated by the Taj Mahal's recognition as a UNESCO world heritage monument and as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, there is insufficient research directed towards the inscription program specifically. In order to focus the scope of the project, I employ phenomenological methodology, using a typical visit to approach the most salient, prominent inscriptions. I argue that the epigraphic program operates on three distinct, hierarchical registers: aesthetic, symbolic, and then denotative. Furthermore, I argue that the inscriptions hint towards a preferred way to approach the site. The thesis argues that the primary concern of the calligraphic design on the Taj Mahal is aesthetics. This study finds that letter forms and overall design of the script contribute to a presentation of the Qur'an as visually balanced and demonstrates that this balance was the primary design consideration. Furthermore, the thesis considers the calligraphic aesthetics at multiple scales and shows that aesthetic considerations overlap at various distances and vantages. Finally the thesis questions the strict separation of aesthetics from symbolic reading offering alternative interpretations involving a connection between symbolic meaning and aesthetics.
 

Feng, Zisong

MIT
SMArchS

1994

Conceptual urbanism: Towards a method of urban form and urban design
"Conceptual urbanism" describes the interpretive nature of a particular structure of the city perceived through the morphological examinations of urban artifacts; emphasizes the perpetually changing "realness" in the concept and the vigorous search for its verification and falsification in the urban artifacts of the city. How does a specific knowledge of the city influence the perception of urban artifacts within the city? And how does an urban artifact or a group of artifacts brings about a particular order of the city? These are complex questions that concern the nature of the artifact, the mental frame of the observer and the transaction of the two in the mind. The thesis investigates how the knowledge of the morphology of the city conditions a specific perception of urban artifacts’ formal qualities; and vice versa, how an urban artifact, by virtue of its tectonic makings, makes possible a particular mental structure of the city.    Boston is used as case study to show how the conceptual structure of the city can be obtained by examinations of morphological developments of Back Bay, Government Center area; and the conceptual structures thus derived can be applied to evaluate the tectonic qualities of Marketplace Center at Quincy Market, City Hall at Government Center, and Hancock Tower at Copley Square. The thesis continues to propose that the conceptual structure abstracted from the morphological stages of the city can serve as a middle ground for the synthesis of two schools of city form studies--one by Conzen in urban geography, the other as represented by Rowe, Eisenman and Hancock in urban design--for a method that starts either from empirical scrutinies of individual artifacts without losing the larger structure of the city or from a generalization of a city’s structure with substantial details that tie the structure to actual history of the city.    Through the process of formulating conceptual structures by examining urban artifacts in relation to stages of morphology of the city, a tension is created between the designer’s conception and his! her perception of urban artifacts. The final part of the thesis considers this tension as a new impulse for urban design process; and urban design as a vehicle for the tectonic studies of urban artifacts and city form.

http://zfengarchitect.com/introduction.html

MIT
SMArchS

1992

The Arsenal of Venice: A study on the degree of context-conscious architecture
The main focus of this study is to define a flexible approach for the most conventional challenge in architecture of introducing a new building into a fabric, that we sometimes call "context", composed of old buildings that have historic significance. Flexibility of the approach is an important issue since the character can change drastically from context to context. "Respecting the context" is used in architectural language as if it were a crystal dear concept. However, both words (ie. "respect" and "context") are very large concepts in themselves and it is possible to generate various associations, sometimes even contradicting each other, from these words. As a consequence, it was crucial to define the exact personal meaning of "context" by reinterpreting it. In addition, it was important to decide about levels on which "respect" for the "reinterpreted context" can be accomplished. In fact, that is where the flexibility of the approach comes about since the levels to be respected change from context to context. After reinterpretation of these terms, next goal is to provide collaboration of old and new through overlap rather than juxtaposition. The point of overlapping is to offer the possibility of experiencing old and new simultaneously by creating alternating interwoven layers of old and new. Finally, there is a secondary study on existing examples of new interventions in historic contexts. The purpose of this study is to derive possible processes of "respecting/ignoring the context". Defining these different processes will help figuring out "what not to do?" rather than "what to do?"

Murat Germen is an artist, academic and archivist using photography as an expression / research tool. Born 1965, he currently lives / works in Istanbul and London. Has an MArch degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he went as a Fulbright scholar and received AIA Henry Adams Gold Medal for academic excellence. Works as a professor of art, photography and new media at Sabanci University in Istanbul. Having many papers, photo series published on architecture / photography / art / new media in various publications; he has lectured at tens of conferences internationally.

His oeuvre focuses on impacts of over-urbanization and gentrification, dis/possession, new forms / tools / methods of imperialism, civic rights, participatory citizenship, sustainability of local cultures, human devastation of nature, climate change, global warming, water rights. Has two monographies, one published by Skira (Italy) and the other by MASA (Turkey). Has opened/joined over eighty inter/national (Turkey, USA, Italy, Germany, UK, Mexico, Portugal, Uzbekistan, Greece, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Poland, Iran, India, Australia, France, Canada, Bahrain, South Korea, Dubai, China, Sweden, Switzerland, Egypt) solo+group exhibitions. More than 400 editions of the artist’s several artworks are in personal collections of eminent art collectors inter/nationally, in addition to several that are in Istanbul Modern, Proje4L Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art (Istanbul), Centre of Contemporary Art in Toruń (Poland), Benetton Foundation’s Imago Mundi – Istanbul Codex, Yapi Kredi Bank Culture and Arts Center (Istanbul), Odunpazari Modern Museum (Eskisehir, Turkey), Evliyagil Museum (Turkey) collections. (http://www.artnet.com/artists/murat-germen/) – (http://artsy.net/artist/murat-germen) – (https://www.artsper.com/en/contemporary-artists/turkey/52882/murat-germen) – (https://www.1stdibs.com/art/photography/?q=murat%20germen) – (http://www.facebook.com/MuratGermenArtistPhotographer).
www.muratgermen.com

Grigor, Talinn

 

MIT
SMArchS

1998

MIT
HTC PhD

2005

 

MIT SMArchS 1998
Construction of history: Mohammad-Reza Shah revivalism, nationalism and monumental architecture of Tehran, 1951-1979

This Master's thesis focuses on modem Iranian national/revival architecture under the Pahlavi royal dynasty, in particular the reigning period of Mohammad-Reza Shah.
I analyze and interpret three specific monuments: the mausoleum of Reza Shah built in 1950, the Shahyad Aryamehr Monument built in 1971 on the occasion of 2500-year monarchy, and a prayer-house in Farah Park built in 1978.
These monuments participated and contributed to the national narrative through revivalistic forms from the pre-Islamic architectural history, hence they underlay specific political agendas and were nationalistic in nature.
The destiny of these structures after the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty, raises issues of monumentality, permanence, and the presence or absence of inherent meaning in architecture.

MIT HTC PhD 2005
Cultivat(ing) modernities: the Society for National Heritage, political propaganda and public architecture in twentieth-century Iran

Beginning in 1922, under the auspices of the Pahlavi dynasty of Iran, the tombs of selected historical figures were systematically destroyed to make way for modern mausoleums erected as metaphors for an "Aryan" nation in its process of modem revival. Initiated during the reign of Reza Shah who ruled the country with an iron fist between 1921 and 1941, most of the projects were implemented under his son, Mohammad Reza Shah, between 1941 and the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Since the monuments were ideologically inscribed commemorations of the leading modernists and reformists of the 1920s, their impact permeated the definition and function of high culture in Iran’s 20th-century sociopolitical history. The dissertation offers a critical analysis of the political underpinnings, pedagogical aims, racial schemas, and aesthetic ends of propaganda architecture as they were conceived and constructed under the aegis of the Society for National Heritage. An in-depth study of the institutional history of the SNH, which included the construction of numerous mausoleums--particularly those belonging to Ferdawsi, Hafez, Ibn Sina, Omar Khayyam, and Arthur Pope, the supervision of over sixty preservation projects, and the creation of an archeological museum as well as a national library, the dissertation demonstrates that in the 20t century, the project of Iran’ s "cultural heritage" was not just about a series of public monuments, well-choreographed museums, (in)accurate indexes of historical landmarks, or art exhibitions and congresses. Modern Iran’s relationship to its cultural heritage was equated to Iran’s equal and rightful place in the network of modern nations; its safest and fastest corridor to a progressive, and at times utopian, modernity; and its essential ideological   (cont.) justification for the political, and often despotic, reforms aimed at territorial integrity and national homogeneity. Iran’s cultural heritage, it is argued, was modem Iran’s political raison d’e’tre.

Talinn Grigor is a Professor of Art History in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of California, Davis and will serve as the chair of the program next year. Recent and forthcoming publications include:
معماری در سیاست و سیاست در معماری:اقلیت های مذهبی و بحث معماری نوگرا در ایران قرن بیستم     , ‘Me’mari dar siasat, siasat dar me’mari: aghaliyat-hay-e mazhabi va bahs-e me’mari-ye nogara dar iran-e gharn-e bistom,’ [Politics in Architecture, Architecture in Politics: Religious Minorities and Architectural Discourse in 20th-Century Iran],’ translated from English to Persian by Greg Grigorian, in Persian language quarterly journal, Payam 79 (Tehran, Spring 2017)
‘Persian Architecture Revivals in the British Raj and Qajar Iran,’ in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the
 Middle East 36/3, special issue, After the Persianate, eds. Mana Kia and Afshin Marashi (Duke University Press, 2016): 384-97
‘Kings and Traditions in Différance: Antiquity Revisited in post-Safavid Iran,’ in The Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, rubric of Modernity, Empire, Colony and Nation (1650-1950), eds. GulruNecipoglu and Barry Flood (New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, Blackwell Companions to Art History series, 2017), chapter 41, 1082-1101
 ‘Tehran: A Revolution in Making,’ in The Political Landscapes of Capitals, eds. Jessica Christie and Jelena Bogdanovic (Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 2016), chapter 10, 347-76  
‘The Violence of the Armchair,’ in Solo Exhibition Catalogue of Shiva Ahmadi, New York, March 2017 (New York: Skira, 2017), 39-43
 ‘Of Absence and Transfiguration,’ in Catalogue Essay for 14-Artist Group Exhibition: Art Brief II: Iranian Contemporary North America (Los Angeles, 2016), 4-40

Guermazi, Iheb MIT
HTC PhD

2022

The Spiritual Turn: Modern Sufism and the Study of Islamic Art and Architecture
This dissertation constructs a genealogy of modern Sufi discourse on art and architecture. It draws the history of a chain of writers and artists, connected through a spiritual and intellectual line of transmission, who developed a particular reading of their world- its values, its cultures and arts. Divided into five chapters, it follows the classic structure of a Sufi Silsila: a chain of master-disciple relationships. Each chapter is thus built around one Muslim master and one European disciple and analyzes the contribution each of them made to the Sufi aesthetic discourse. The Spiritual Turn argues that the work of this intellectual lineage finds its roots within a 19th century Sufi reformist movement led by Emir ‘Abd al-Qadir (1808-1883) who proposed to unveil the common esoteric origins of Christianity and Islam. The Algerian anti-colonial leader and Sufi master hoped that such an ecumenical project could spare his co-religionaries further military confrontations with Western powers. Organized chronologically, the dissertation then follows the slow, rhizomatic evolution of a 19th century political stance into a rather well-structured art theory a century later. The narrative focuses on the different intellectual collaborations between Arab Sufi mystics and a group of European converts to Islam. Together, they believed in a possible mystical alternative modernity and argued for an esoteric understanding of aesthetics that would replace materialist and positivist modern art and architectural theories. The 1976 London World of Islam Festival was the culmination of this intellectual lineage. This event, considered as the largest exhibition of Islamic art and cultures ever organized in Europe, was mainly curated by Western converts to Islam directly attached to Abd al-Qadir’s spiritual school. The meaning these curators ascribed to the exhibited artworks, the textual interpretations, and historical framing they provided were rooted in a purely esoteric understanding of art and architecture. This history is an opportunity to examine alternative aesthetic hermeneutics emanating from non-western, non-positivist or anti-modern perspectives. The dissertation thus uses the Sufi aesthetic discourse as one modern instance where the classical and inherently Western modes of interpretation were challenged in favor of a mystical reading of art and architecture.

 

Gul, Marium

 

MIT
SMArchS

2011

Mitigating floods: Reconstructing Lives: Rehabilitating Thatta
Pakistan was struck by floods in July 2010, the effects of which left 20.36 million people affected and 1.9 million homes damaged or destroyed’. In the province of Sindh in Pakistan, most of the affected population of the historic city of Thatta took refuge by fleeing to Makli Hill, a necropolis with mausoleums dating as far back as 1352A.D. The capital of three successive dynasties Thatta is famed for its cultural heritage and Makli Hill. Some four hundred thousand flood victims camped out on the hill most lacking any form of shelter. This thesis develops a framework for refugee camps and resettlement strategies that respond to and integrate the migratory trends of deltaic communities in the case of a flood event in an area with great cultural heritage.    Taking into account different scenarios of flood disasters and recovery it aims to present an incremental, sustainable and transitional shelter program that local populations residing in flood prone areas of the Indus deltaic region of Thatta District can adopt in order to mitigate the effect of floods and hence reduce risk and vulnerability. The case of the Indus delta is particularly interesting because it requires a combined design strategy for the local phenomena of natural hazards and the global issue of climate change. The geographical importance of the site has been analyzed with respect to surrounding communities and primarily areas of relatively higher elevation, heterogeneous soil and water resources, and concentrated cultural heritage.    The urban development of Makli Hill because of its geographic location and topographical characteristics is a highly likely and viable one as can be concluded from the transformation of Makli Hill to a site of refuge when floods affected the region. The thesis concludes with the proposal of the developmental growth of villages through small scale local productive landscapes so that communities can be partially self-sufficient and sustainable especially in times of flooding. The project is conceptualized in Thatta as a model approach that is transitional in nature and may be adapted by low-income communities residing in vulnerable locations in other deltaic/coastal regions in Pakistan, and wherever there is a conjunction of natural hazards, cultural heritage, and safe building opportunities worldwide.

 

MIT
SMArchS

1992

Rethinking resettlement--employment, negotiation, and land in Singrauli, India
This thesis questions current resettlement approaches, and suggests a different way of thinking about the issues of i) participation, ii) land, and iii) employment in resettlement projects. This study of resettlement programs for people displaced by power and coal projects in Singrauli, India, found that:
i) Although there were no formal mechanisms to incorporate participation, displaced people or "oustees" did participate. Their resistance and top-down support for their cause forced the coal and power firms to negotiate with them. These negotiations enabled oustees to alter centralized decisions and ensured participation. Facilitating negotiations between project agencies and oustees, then, may serve as an approach that is both an easier first step and more effective than "participation" as it is conventionally understood.
ii) Despite scarcity of land in this urbanizing area some oustees managed to purchase small parcels of land with their own resources and compensation money. These parcels, including non-agricultural land, were a critical component of oustee attempts to diversify their income portfolio to include urban rents, urban jobs, and income from agriculture and kitchen gardens. While urban resettlement literature focuses only on providing well-located urban plots to oustees, this case shows that access to additional land is possible and may be crucial for economic rehabilitation of oustees in urban and urbanizing areas.
iii) The government's energy policies, and "efficiency" concerns of donor agencies run counter to their resettlement objectives. Narrowly defined efficiency targets for mines and power plants have undermined job-linkage policies aimed at increasing employment opportunities for oustees. This suggests that even getting resettlement policies right may not help if sectoral polices and regulations pull in opposite directions.
The Singrauli case suggests that in dichotomizing issues -- urban vs. rural, jobs vs. land, top-down vs. bottom-up, and jobs vs. efficiency -- policy makers may be overlooking the spectrum of options between these apparent polarities that may achieve successful resettlement and rehabilitation.

 

Gupta, Huma MIT
PhD


2020

The Architecture of Dispossession: Migrant Sarifa Settlements and State-Building in Iraq
“The Architecture of Dispossession” examines the negative dialectical relationship between state-building and migrant reed and mud settlements. This dissertation argues that they were co-constituted through an iterative process of dispossession and displacement fundamental to the making of modern Iraq and Baghdad between 1920 and 1970. In contrast with how Baghdad's history has been portrayed, reed and mud homes were arguably the most salient architectural feature of the mid-20th century capital. In this dissertation, architecture has a dual significance. It refers to the architectural production of dispossessed rural migrants and their settlements built upon occupied state or private land or what are called “informal settlements” today. Second, it denotes the Iraqi state apparatus designed to manage land dispossession not only in the rural periphery but also in cities like Baghdad under the benevolent guise of urban development. Furthermore, this dissertation employs rare archival film footage, photographs, architectural drawings, diplomatic records, government reports, interviews and surveys in order to reconstruct the history of these ephemeral places through the very documentation strategies that accompanied modes of state formalization that sought to erase them. It does so in order to recuperate the figure of the sarifa-dweller as a central subject in Iraqi historiography. Migrant settlements were places where macroeconomic theory or architectural modernism were allowed to disintegrate until the point that they became an economic or political problem for the ruling regime. This dissertation, thus, traces how migrant settlements functioned as a “space of exception” from the British mandatory period through the Republican period, in order to demonstrate how they were indispensable to the state-building project in each historical period. Nevertheless, rural migrants in the capital participated in communist agitation, protest movements, and the 1958 anti-monarchic revolution that transformed the modern state of Iraq.