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A conversation with Nader Tehrani

The new head of the Department of Architecture discusses his post
Department of Architecture Head Nader Tehrani
Department of Architecture Head Nader Tehrani
Photo: Arthur Chang

Nader Tehrani, an MIT faculty member since 2007, has been appointed the new head of the Department of Architecture effective July 1. He succeeds Yung Ho Chang, who led the department since 2005.

The son of an Iranian diplomat, Tehrani was born in England and raised in Pakistan, South Africa, Iran, Italy and the United States. He received his BFA in 1985 and his BArch in 1986, both from the Rhode Island School of Design, after which he attended a post-graduate program in history and theory at the Architectural Association in London.

He founded Office dA after graduation from RISD in 1986, in collaboration with Rodolphe El Khoury. Upon receiving his Master of Architecture and Urban Design with Distinction from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in 1991, he was joined at Office dA by Monica Ponce de Leon, now Dean of the Taubman School of Architecture at the University of Michigan.

Their work is formidably diverse in both scope and scale, ranging from table settings to a 20,000-seat soccer stadium to urban design/infrastructure projects in Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait and the U.S., and including most everything in between.

They’ve designed restaurants, markets, hotels, offices, bookstores, hair salons, a pizzeria, libraries, chapels, museums, galleries, a youth community center, a multi-faith spiritual center, a U.S./Canada border station and two memorials. Significantly, they are also currently working on designs for three schools of architecture that were featured in a recent exhibit in SA+P’s Wolk Gallery, examining the roles played by design, pedagogy and building in their work.

They have received scores of international awards, including 12 Progressive Architecture awards, five I.D. Magazine Awards, the Harleston Parker Award, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Architecture.

They were also awarded the 1997 Young Architects Award from the Architecture League of New York, two Young Architect Awards from the Boston Society of Architects and a $50K USA Target Fellowship. In 2010, Fast Company named Office dA one of the nation’s five most innovative companies in architectural design.

Tehrani joined the MIT faculty after teaching at RISD, Harvard and Georgia Tech, where he held the Thomas W. Ventulett III Distinguished Chair in Architectural Design. Since arriving here, he has helped to restructure the core curriculum while continuing his research on material applications, the building industry and new means and methods of construction, especially in the area of digital fabrication.

Read the interview with Tehrani


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