The Profession’s Vanguards: Arab Architects in Mandate Jerusalem

Aga Khan Program Lecture:
The Profession’s Vanguards: Arab Architects in Mandate Jerusalem
Nadi Abusaada, AKPIA@MIT Post-Doctoral Fellow
Writings on architecture in Palestine and the Arab region in the first half of the twentieth century have often focused on the legacies of colonial architects and planners in shaping Arab cities and built environments. In this talk, Nadi Abusaada will highlight findings from his postdoctoral research on the overlooked history of the first milieu of trained Arab architects in Palestine, particularly in the city of Jerusalem. He will trace their professional trajectories and their development from the late Ottoman era and their continuities into the British Mandate period. Although these architects were working within the British colonial system, they nonetheless were able to forge their own understandings of the architectural profession and modern architecture. Importantly, they were not working in isolation. They considered themselves part of a broader quest for developing the architectural profession regionally within the Arab world. This talk will shed light on the transnational connections that linked the first milieu of Palestinian architects with their counterparts in the Arab region in the 1930s-40s.
Nadi Abusaada is an architect and a historian. He is currently an Aga Khan Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Nadi completed his Ph.D. and M.Phil. degrees at the University of Cambridge and his B.A. at the University of Toronto. Nadi is also the co-founder of Arab Urbanism, a global network dedicated to historical and contemporary urban issues in the Arab region. His writings have been featured in a number of international publications including The Architectural Review, The International Journal of Islamic Architecture, and the Jerusalem Quarterly among others.