Monday, November 24, 2008

Architecture and Urbanism in the Middle East - Special Edition of Viewpoints, Middle East Institute

Laurie Kassman
Director Communications
Middle East Institute

WASHINGTON, DC -- November 18, 2008 -- The Middle East Institute announces a special edition of /Viewpoints,/ "Architecture and Urbanism in the Middle East." This wide-ranging mega-collection of essays, photographs and maps are flanked by pictures of centuries-old citadels and satellite images of urban growth. Together they create a facsimile of the Middle East's architectural past, present and future.

The special /Viewpoints /is available at: **

Fifteen essays explore the social, political and economic influences of architectural development across the Levant, Maghreb and Persian Gulf. In a forward-looking approach, the essays suggest the need for a comprehensive urban development plan to foster and accommodate the socio-economic growth of the 21^st century Middle East and North Africa.

Maintaining a delicate balance between tradition and modernity is a recurring theme. In one essay, Mina Marefat, an architect, urban designer and architectural historian, discusses Reza Shah's modernization efforts in pre-revolutionary Iran, "Reza Shah countered modernity with an indigenous past," she notes, "Throughout Tehran, he replaced 19^th century religious symbols with pre-Islamic iconography recalling the ancient Persian Empire."

A rich architectural legacy influenced by a colonial past poses an intriguing challenge for the Middle Eastof how to create practical, innovative and sustainable architectural developments and urban environments while maintaining a sense of tradition.

Other contributors include Simon O'Meara, Brian McLaren, Nasser Rabbat, Annabel Jane Wharton, Rami Daher, Mohammad al-Asad, Mashary Al-Naim, Michele Lamprakos, Yasser Maghoub, Anas Al-Omaim, Yasser Elsheshtawy, Ashraf Salama, and Kevin Mitchell.

Since 1946, the Middle East Institute has been dedicated to increasing Americans' knowledge and understanding of the region. MEI offers program activities, media outreach, language courses, scholars and an academic journal to help achieve its goals. For additional information please visit
Architecture-Urbanism is dedicated to a) those who are interested in creating livable and sustainable environments and buildings that meet socio-cultural and socio-behavioral needs of people, environments that are responsive to historical, traditional and physical constraints, b) to those who are interested in finding panacea for the ills of our globalized world, and c) to those who are interested in regaining what cultures and societies have lost by the acts of architects. ____________________________________________________________________________