Top 45 most influential architects in the Middle East in 2018

Ihab Nayal

Principal designer, La Casa

Having joined La Casa more than a decade ago, Ihab Nayal started out as one of the key designers at the then-young firm. Over time, he gradually assumed more responsibility in the office and now runs the firm’s design department – in charge of his own projects as well as growing and managing the team. Some of his most high-calibre work includes the Dubai Wharf and GV11 in DIFC. Moving forward, Nayal has been working on a number of projects across the UAE including a project in Dubai’s Business Bay for Gemini Developers, as well as residential projects for Al Ghurair and near Dubai Wharf. According to the architect, the latter is a continuation to La Casa’s development in that area.

Islam El Mashtooly

Senior project architect, Perkins+Will

Winner of MEA Award’s Young Architect of the Year in 2015, Islam El Mashtooly has since left his post at Godwin Austen Johnson and joined Perkins+Will. In the two years since his career transition, El Mashtooly has enjoyed an eventful work path. 2017 alone saw his projects win international design awards, while he was also a finalist for the World Architecture Festival. The good fortune continued to the end of the year, as he was recently announced as one of the curators for the Egyptian Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2018. He will be working with a team of Dubai-based architects and academics including Cristiano Luchetti from AUS, Mouaz Abouzaid of Dewan Architects + Engineers and Giuseppe Moscatello, director at Maraya Art Centre.

Jamil Jadallah

Managing director and partner, NEB

With more than 33 years of experience in the architecture industry in the Middle East, Jamil Jadallah joined NEB in 2002, and through his vision, has led the massive architecture and engineering firm with his vision, business intelligence and attention to detail.

According to others in the growing organisation, his “enlightened approach to business” has fuelled the company’s multidisciplinary approach, providing high-standards of service across the full spectrum of the built environment. The 572-member team looks forward to a number of building completions in 2018 including Marina 106, which is set to become the UAE’s second tallest tower, as well as the Crowne Plaza in Dubai Marina and Sharjah University Tower.

Janus Rostock

Regional design director, Atkins

With more than 20 years of experience, Janus Rostock joined Atkins in 2006 and became part of the team working on the Dubai Promenade and Cape Town Waterfront masterplan. After a three year stint working as associate design director for Atkins in Copenhagen, he returned to the UAE in 2011 and assumed responsibility for Atkins’ Middle East architecture and urban design team. Of his many projects, perhaps most notable is the Dubai Opera. And while upcoming projects are confidential, he will continue to work on projects across the region. In a previous interview with MEA, Rostock once declared the time of the ‘starchitect’ over. “I think we are moving away from the star architect…That I think is a thing of the past and, in my opinion, the starchitect is no more,” he said.

Jason Burnside

Partner and head of education design, Godwin Austen Johnson

Specialising in the education and commercial mixed-use sectors, Jason Burnside has led the design of 20 schools in the region since being appointed his role in 2012 – the same year he won Architect of the Year at the MEA Awards. With more than 16 years of experience in the region, his 2017 projects included the Dubai College English Block, the new reception building at Dubai College and the Sharjah English School Early Years building. The architect has also long contributed to conversations around education design and offered his input to publications discussing the topic. Looking ahead, Burnside will lead the design of more than five upcoming projects including Al Furjan School, Dubai College Centre of Sporting Excellence, and the Dubai College Learning Centre.

Joe Tabet

Managing director, JT+Partners

Since leaving his post as regional design director at Atkins and launching his own company three years ago, Joe Tabet has managed to establish his 44-member architecture firm, JT+Partners, as one of the UAE’s key firms. As recipient of MEA Awards’ Principal of the Year at it 2017 cycle, Tabet has been largely recognised for successfully leading his growing team to build for the future.

The office culture emphasises not only quality, research-based design, but it also stays up to date with technology advancements and remains active in CSR initiatives and conversations aimed at the betterment of the industry.

At the awards, the judges labelled him a “revolutionary”, and revered him for having “broken out of the mould and proceeded to plan structures and communities that would transcend design and encompass societal and environmental issues.”

Upon winning Principal of the Year, Tabet said, “I recently found that when I look over the past two years, from where I was when I started on my own to where we are today with three offices and 50 people, I feel that it’s been unbelievable.”

The last 12 months saw the completion of a number of large-scale projects, including Al Barsha First Townhouses in Dubai, One World Development in India, the Morocco Winter Retreat Resort, a private residence in Abu Dhabi, the Mango House in Seychelles and Maskeliya VIP Resort in Sri Lanka.

As the company continued its extensive work across major global markets including the UAE, north and central Africa, Saudi Arabia and India, JT+Partners expanded with the opening of its Beirut office – third in line to the firm’s Abu Dhabi and Dubai locations.

The next 12 years will continue the reign of the firm’s success with major projects across the UAE. Such projects include the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Ras Al Akhdar Hotel, Khor Al Raha Courtyard and Al Raha Residences all in Abu Dhabi, as well as the Hampton by Hilton in Ras Al Khaimah.

Jonathan Ashmore

Founder and director, Anarchitect

Since leaving his post as senior architect at Godwin Austen Johnson in 2013 and founding his own award-winning firm Anarchitect in Dubai, Jonathan Ashmore has truly made a name for himself. His consistent work quality, design aesthetic and understanding of the context local to wherever he is working has allowed him to guide his small but formidable office to continued success. Anarchitect’s 2017 projects included Dubai projects like El Chiringuito Ibiza, Belgravia One and the Rossano Ferretti Hairspa, which won the Retail Design of the Year at the CID Awards 2017. Over the next 12 months, the firm will see the completion of its Fossil Rock Desert Resort and Spa, a private residential project in Sri Lanka, Belgravia Two in Dubai, and many others.

Kourosh Hajizadeh

Principal architect, Hajizadeh & Associates

Founder of the award-winning Tehran-based architecture firm Hajizadeh & Associates, Kourosh Hajizadeh has long shown interest in the history and culture of his homeland. In 2001, he published a book titled ‘Dooman’, which explores the lost culture and historical values of Tabriz. And from 2002 to 2007, he worked with architects Bahram Shirdel and Seyyed Hadi Mirmiran before establishing his office. As MEA Awards’ Architect of the Year in 2013, Hajizadeh has shown great design integrity throughout his ever-expanding career and has led his office with a mentality that appreciates an artistic approach to architecture. While he leads his team on a number of upcoming projects, Hajizadeh will continue his pursuit of a PhD in architecture from the Islamic Azad University.

Martin Dufresne

Design principal and partner, U+A

As co-founder, design principal and partner at the Dubai-based architecture and design firm U+A, Martin Dufresne leads the firm’s project teams. Since his win in 2013 for MEA Awards’ Principal of the Year, he has gone on to work on a number of large-scale projects. While 2017 saw the development of the Floating Homes, as well as the completion of the Swiss International School, a middle and high school, 2018 looks to be an even busier year. Dufresne is currently looking at a number a residential projects with Emaar, the Deyaar Midtown Development, Deyaar Millenium Hotel, Wasl Experience Centre and many more. Across most of his work, Dufresne serves as lead architect and provides the full scope of design services to clients as well as advises his inhouse teams.

Mohamed Al Assam

Founder and executive chairman, Dewan Architects + Engineers

Iraqi architect Mohamed Al Assam founded his architecture firm more than 30 years ago, and in the decades since, it has grown to be a key global firm with branches across the Middle East. As chairman of the board of directors, Al Assam has participated in setting the strategic direction of the firm. With his sound awareness in business development, the firm has achieved several international awards and nominations. Dewan is currently staffed with over 300 professionals and is working on an extensive portfolio of projects in various sectors across the GCC and North Africa. The firm’s recent projects include The Fountain Views, the Marriott Courtyard Khobar, the German School in Cairo and many more. Al Assam is also a member of various initiatives like the Tamayouz Excellence Award.

Mohammad Khavarian

Architect, Mohammad Khavarian Architects

Working across architecture, urbanism, interior design and research, Mohammad Khavarian imbues his practice with an ethos centred on critical thinking, extending beyond the boundaries of architectural production to realise specific and unexpected solutions. Khavarian’s work ranges from city-defining structures to cultural buildings, and the office engages in non-architectural projects and interventions, from art exhibitions to installations, graphic design to identity and positioning. His studio, which currently numbers at 16 staff members, worked on a number of projects this year including Chamestan House in northern Iran and a residential project in Yazd. For 2018, the firm looks to complete residential projects across Iran and K Mall in Baghdad.

Mouaz Abouzaid

BIM manager, Dewan Architects + Engineers

Cairo-born and a graduate of Alexandria University, Mouaz Abouzaid is Dewan’s BIM manager and a former recipient of MEA Awards’ Young Architect of the Year in 2016. In 2017, he made waves in the local architecture scene for his development of the ‘Sheltainer’ project – a collaborative initiative that included other Dubai-based architects Bassel Omara and Ahmad Hammad. A concept that can be built anywhere and intended for destitute communities, Sheltainer picked up an MEA Award in 2017. Abouzaid’s 2018 outlook includes a number of projects across the UAE including Reem Mall Abu Dhabi and Makers District Phase 1 in Capital Bay on Al Reem Island. At the end of 2017, Abouzaid was also appointed co-curator of the Egyptian Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2018.

Nasser Abulhasan

Principal and founding partner, AGi Architects

Receiving his PhD in design from Harvard Graduate School of Design, Nasser Abulhasan co-founded the Kuwait-based AGi Architects with Joaquin Perez-Goicoechea in 2006. His design experience includes commercial office buildings and complexes, government buildings, mixed-use facilities and other institutional buildings. Since 2006, he has completed several projects across urban design, planning, interiors and industrial design, and has been honoured on several occasions both nationally and internationally. Beyond his built work, Abulhasan has held teaching positions as adjunct professor at the Boston Architectural Center and Kuwait University. He’s also guest lectured at conferences and universities across the world.

Pedram Rad

Managing director, U+A

Co-founder of U+A, a large Dubai-based architecture firm that was shortlisted in four categories at the last MEA Awards, Pedram Rad has worked alongside Martin Dufresne to grow the in-house team to 114 members. With 40 qualified architects, it would seem that Rad is successfully leading an increasingly influential firm. This year, the architects at U+A saw the completion of a number of projects including the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, St. Regis Polo Club and Hotel and DAMAC Heights. The company is also looking forward to its global expansion, with offices opening in London, Toronto and Johannesburg in 2018.

Phillip Jones

Principal and managing director, Middle East and North Africa, B+H Architects

A Toronto native, Phillip Jones has enjoyed nearly 30 years of work in the GCC. Known for a number of projects and masterplans across the region including the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies Public Realm Design, and the Lu’Luat Al Raha Masterplan, Jones has spearheaded the firm’s regional presence. An avid commentator, Jones also contributes to conversations on design technology and urban development.

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