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Discover Iranian-American Culture & Architects in LA
March 25 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm PDT
J.E.D.I. Voices: Discover Iranian-American Culture & Architects in LA
AIALA Committee: Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion
This is a free virtual event. Please register below to receive the Zoom link.
Southern California boasts the largest population of Iranians outside Iran, and Los Angeles is home to vast majority. Like Angelenos, Iranians are diverse in race, religion, and culture. As part of the ongoing J.E.D.I. Voices series, we feature the first event of Iranian-American architects by providing a window to the culture as it is experienced in LA & the local architects.
Join SoCalNOMA and AIA LA as we close the end of Iranian New Year (March 21) with a discussion on identity, representation and community engagement.
Mitra Memari, AIA – Partner, ZGF Architects
Born in Iran, Mitra emigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. With the last name Memari, which means architect in Farsi, one thing is clear: Mitra was born to be an architect. Through adapting to a new culture and language at a young age, she developed a passion for diversity, inclusion, and equity. In her practice and in her role as a partner, Mitra has made it her mission to create a more equitable profession that represents the communities where we live and work. Mitra’s ethics-driven approach also leverages a passion for sustainable design to create seamless, collaborative, lasting relationships across client and project teams.
Ziba Ghassemi, AIA – Vice President of Airport Design, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield
Ziba is Vice President of Airport Design at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, a global developer focused on making positive social, cultural, environmental and economic contributions to users and communities. She has led the experiential design of airport terminals across the country, including LAX Bradley International, Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 6, Chicago O’Hare, and Boston Logan. Her approach to design brings local architects and experts from the private and public sector together with an internal team of multi-disciplinary experts, to foster an investigative and explorative process where smart products, technology, sustainable features and strategies for resiliency all contribute to creating a more connected transportation facility and traveler experience.
Mahmoud Gharachedaghi, FAIA – GA Design
Mahmoud Gharachedaghi has 50-years experience in Architecture and Urban Design including programming, master planning and design of numerous hotels, office buildings, commercial centers, mixed-use facilities, civic centers, park and recreational facilities and educational institutions for varieties of private and public clients. He also has completed ADA Barrier Removal projects at more than 350 schools and university campuses and tens of park and recreational facilities throughout Southern California. Mahmoud has received national recognition through the publication of his projects and as a recipient of numerous Regional, National and International Design Awards. His projects have been published in most of the famous architectural magazines, including Architecture, Architectural Record and Architectural Digest. His significant contribution to the architectural profession and his dedication to help other architects throughout the Nation were recognized by the American Institute of Architects, elevating him to the level of Fellow in the Institute in 2003. He has been a member of AIA Fellows Nomination Committee since 2004. Mahmoud is very active in sustainable design research; he has lectured on the subject for several public agencies and universities, demonstrating the value and benefits of green architecture in design and construction. He was a board member of the City of Los Angeles Sustainable Task Force and has been the leading proponent of implementing a City Council directive to find methods to incorporate environmentally sensitive design features into all development and construction projects. He helped the task force to prepare the first Sustainable Building Reference Manual for the City of Los Angeles, which was approved by the Los Angeles City Council in July 1998. He is currently the Vice President of the Sustainable Policies Institute. Invited as a lead speaker at the 2000 National AIA Convention in Philadelphia and 2001 National Convention in Denver, and 2008 Ecobuild America National Convention in Washington DC, Mahmoud presented innovative programs on sustainable design.
Arman Massahi – Project Architect, KFA Architecture
Arman attended Azad University of Tabriz where he earned a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering degree. In 2011, he ventured out to Los Angeles where he graduated with a Master of Architecture degree from SCI-Arc. Arman’s vast range of knowledge and experience in the design and development of single-family homes, multi-family projects, and mixed-use commercial developments. His experience in designing projects in Los Angeles for the past ten years has driven him to become an architect with a deep knowledge of structural design and building systems. Arman enjoys hiking and camping all the California area trails, as well as riding his bike along Pacific Ocean. He currently works as a project architect for KFA architects.
Avideh Haghighi, AIA – Associate, ZGF
Avideh is a Registered Architect and a Living Future Accredited professional dedicated to creating a regenerative built environment through her role as a designer and A/E/C industry advocate. She received her Bachelors of Architecture from Woodbury University in 2011 and since then has been driven to transform the built environment towards a net-positive impact. She has a diverse portfolio of work spanning public and private sectors, including public schools, mixed use residential and institutional. As an architect and sustainability specialist at ZGF architects, she advises clients on global sustainability goals and real estate strategy, and works with design and consultant teams to identify unique opportunities in every project to create high performance buildings. Avideh’s career has been equally rooted in design and advocacy. She has been serving as a Facilitator and Steering Committee member of the Living Future Los Angeles Collaborative for the past three years. She has given numerous presentations at schools, universities and industry conferences on the topics of Living Buildings, Circular Economy and Healthy Materials.
Farzaneh Akhavan – Teacher Assistant in School of Interior Design, Woodbury University
Farzaneh Akhavan is a Master of Interior Design student at Woodbury University with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture Engineering from Iran. She is both Research and Teacher Assistant in her school and one of the 2021 Interior Design Educators Council’s Graduate Scholarship recipients. By having a background in both majors, she believes that Interior Design is the human-centered approach to the problem solution whereas Architecture is more about the outside boundary. Being in the industry made her conscious about her responsibility toward the space that she is designing for people to experience or reside in. Farzaneh enjoys following all art-works as well as designs because she finds “interior design as art”; Therefore, she expresses her creative side through painting, designing, and decorating. Her main focus is on the human experience within each space, the interior space. She is always eager to know how to cope with the challenges of integrating spaces, the clients’ needs, the budget she is given, and the impact of details on the user which allows her to get creative in solving a problem and creating the best work of which includes the smallest details.
Fateme Jalali – SCI-Arc Alumni
Fateme is a recent graduate of SCI-Arc Master of Architecture program (M.Arc I). She got her bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from University of Tehran. Before SCI-Arc she received her certificate of Interior Design from Santa Barbara City College. Fateme has experience working in an architectural firm designing residential buildings. She also worked in a lighting design company in Santa Barbara working on commercial lighting design.
Hassan Majd – Founder, HM DG INC
Hassan Majd started his journey in architecture and building at the age of 12 visiting his grandfather in Emamzadeh Seyyed Ebrahim in Zanjan where he watched his grandfather renovate the mausoleum. He trained at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). Hassan Majd established a successful career as a designer after working at Gehry Partners and Morphosis before launching his own design firm, Back Studio, in 1991 to 1994 where he honed his skills as interior designer. 1994-1998 Hassan Majd designed and manufactured his own furniture and exhibited at ICFF in NY. In 1998, he re-launched the firm as H. Majd Design Group (HMDG Inc.) to better manifest his commitment to a disciplined Design/Build process that provides clients with a streamlined custom home-crafting experience. Hassan emphasizes harmony and continuity between design concept and built reality to consistently deliver projects that are faithful to the client’s personal sense of home. The extensive design research he performs at a project’s inception, using tools such as computer-generated visualizations, building physical models in order to foster a productive and communicative partnership with clients. This results in a clearly articulated, responsive, and practical vision of the project. Hassan then realizes that vision as a built environment drawing on skills honed over 20 years to ensure accurate project documentation, efficient and timely permitting, and construction oversight rooted in a collaborative relationship with Subcontractors. The result: living spaces that clients are proud to call their homes.
Hasti Khodabakhsh, AIA – Architect, Design Illustration Group
Hasti Khodabakhsh, RA, LEED AP BD+C & ND, Fitwel Amb, has been engaged in the built environment for more than a decade as an architect, urban designer, entrepreneur, project manager, and environmental steward. Her professional experience in the US includes working at HOK, SOM, and Gensler on a variety of local and international architecture and planning projects. She also helped establish DIG, a successful visualization studio, which has enabled her to explore and develop skills required for running a business. In addition to her design, technical and management skills and experience, Hasti seeks to improve the quality of life through sustainable built environments and is interested in the impact of architecture and design on health and well-being. She was an active member of AIA DC | Design + Wellbeing Committee and organized, led and attended many educational programs and events on this subject. She continues to promote design strategies that are environmentally-friendly and improve occupants’ health and well-being as a member of AIA LA COTE. She also served as the Design Resilience Co-Leader of Gensler LA office. Hasti received her Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Tehran and her Master of Architecture (Urban Design Track) from the Pennsylvania State University.
Mahmood Karimzadeh, AIA – Deputy City Engineer at Bureau of Engineering, City of Los Angeles
Mahmood Karimzadeh has earned his Degrees in Architecture and Urban Planning at the National University of Iran. After graduation he worked in private sector where he designed and managed large commercial and residential projects in Middle East, California and Canada. He has participated in several national and international design competitions and has won several overseas and California commissions before joining the City of Los Angeles. Mahmood is the Deputy City Engineer for the LA Bureau of Engineering in charge of the Los Angeles Civic Center Development Program. Prior to his promotion to the Deputy position, he was the City Principal Architect with the Bureau managing the $500M Municipal Facilities Program. This Program is responsible for the design and construction delivery of public projects in City of Los Angeles. He is the Chief Sustainable Design Officer for the Bureau as well.
Mehrnoosh Mojallali, AIA – Urban Design Architect
Mehrnoosh arrived to Pasadena in 1966 to enroll at Blair High School. At the time she was the only student that did not speak English. Thereafter, she started studying Architecture at Pasadena City College and transferred to the University of Oregon to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. Mehrnoosh worked for various firms in LA and transferred to Harvard University. She holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture/Urban Design from Harvard University since 1979. She gained years of experience as a commercial designer working with major firms in L.A. and New York, such as I.M. Pei and SOM. Since 1981, she has raised her daughter and son as a single mother, also while pursuing her passion for Architecture/Urban Design under her own practice in Venice Beach. Her projects have varied from: designing hotels, single/multifamily housing as well as hardscape and commercial projects. She starts with the project’s initial planning and design all the way through construction phase. She was president of AWA+d in 2007 & 2008 to promote women in Architecture with various exhibits. She also served as a member of the Land Use Planning Committee in Venice from 2012-2019.
Sussan Movassagh, Assoc. AIA – Senior Designer/Senior Associate, CO ARCHITECTS
With a background in both architecture and interior design, Sussan Movassagh has designed and coordinated a range of education, healthcare, commercial, mixed-use, residential, and historic preservation projects over the course of her 14-year career. She has worked collaboratively with the project teams, consultants, and clients on design and production in all project phases, from master planning through construction administration. Sussan is sensitive to all the parts of a project from exterior to interior and has coordinated the design and palette of finishes with the goal of unifying the building’s interior and exterior. Sussan received a Master of Architecture from Virginia Tech University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design from Marymount University.