Immigration Ban Rocks Architecture Community

Photo © Biayna Bogosian

February 1, 2017

When Iranian architect Milad Zabeti moved to the United States in January 2014, he was well on his way to achieving the American Dream. By 29, he had earned a master’s degree in architectural engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, held degrees from two other international universities, and was hired by the firm Cambridge Seven Associates. Zabeti was also looking forward to the day when his wife Tannaz, an Iranian architect pursuing a Ph.D. in Italy, could join him in Massachusetts.

President Donald Trump’s executive order Friday—a decree that temporarily bans citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran—has left Zabeti, his wife, and thousands of would-be immigrants at a loss. “You invest something,” says Zabeti about his decision to move to the U.S., “your life, energy, and ideas—everything. And then one sudden decision changes things.”

The shockwaves are resonating throughout the architectural community as designers, like Zabeti, and students struggle to make sense of their visa status and their options.

Architecture schools felt the effects immediately. According to the website FiveThirtyEight, 17,354 visas were issued for university students from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen in the 2015-16 academic year—many for architecture.

“None of us know exactly what the implications [of the ban] are,” says Nader Tehrani, the dean of Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture—and an Iranian-American. “We are working to better understand them.”

To many, the scope of the order is nebulous. Tuesday morning, Toronto-based architect Nima Javidi, an assistant professor at Cooper Union, told RECORD he was detained at Newark Liberty International Airport for two hours, in spite of his Canadian citizenship. “To be fair, [the airport officials] were unclear of proper procedure,” says Javidi, who was born in Iran. “But it’s also worth noting that they were told that whoever you see born in those countries, take them in and keep them for a while.”

Fortunately, according to Tehrani, no one from his school has been denied entry to the U.S., but the new rule will prevent students from going abroad—to visit their homes or to participate in travelling architecture studios. “They’re in limbo,” he says.

Some students at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) are facing a similar impasse. Though no architecture students were caught outside of the country at the time of Trump’s order, the ban, says Dean Amale Andraos, is “against all the values we stand for as a university committed to welcoming students and faculty, and to the free exchange of ideas and people.” She adds, “It’s quite devastating.”

The Los Angeles-based architecture school SCI-Arc, meanwhile, wrote in a statement to its students and faculty, “What affects one of us in our community affects all of us… SCI-Arc is committed to protecting the rights to all the members of our community, and to do whatever is possible within the law to keep doing so.”

Architecture firms are also speaking out. Daniel Libeskind, who grew up in Poland but moved to the United States in 1959 from Israel, argued that his studio wouldn’t exist without immigration. “The Trump travel ban is an affront to our freedom and core values. It affects our employees, colleagues and collaborators,” Libeskind’s firm said in a statement yesterday. “We are actively boycotting companies that support the current administration’s policies.”

For many U.S. architecture offices, it is too soon to determine what the new restrictions will mean. Studio Gang, KPF, and Richard Meier & Partners told RECORD that they are still assessing the situation internally. “The new immigration ban is not yet affecting our firm,” a representative from Richard Meier wrote in an email, “but it is definitively something we are going to continue monitoring.”

The future remains equally uncertain for Milad Zabeti. He can join his wife in Italy and leave life in the U.S. behind, or wait to see what the next weeks bring. But for now, he is choosing to remain optimistic: “I hope that this is going to be something temporary and that we get back to the real America.”

Santiago Calatrava Reveals £1 Billion Mixed-Use Project in London

Santiago Calatrava Reveals £1 Billion Mixed-Use Project in London, © Uniform
© Uniform

Santiago Calatrava has unveiled designs for a £1-billion mixed-use project in Greenwich Peninsula, East London. Named Peninsula Place, the 1.4-million-square-foot (130,000-square-meter) project will be located adjacent to the Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners-designed O2 Arena (formerly known as the Millennium Dome). It will include a new tube and bus station, a theater, cinema and performance venue, bars, shops and a wellbeing hub on the lower levels, with three towers rising above featuring offices, hotels, and apartments. The scheme will also be served by a new land bridge, also designed by Calatrava.

The "Galleria" will offer a promenade full of shops, restaurants and cafes. Image © UniformThe new footbridge will connect Peninsula Place to the rest of the Greenwich Peninsula. Image © UniformThe "winter garden" at the center of the design will welcome arrivals from the London Underground. Image © Uniform© Uniform+6

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© Uniform

© Uniform

The scheme has been designed for developer Knight Dragon as part of their £8.4 billion regeneration of Greenwich Peninsula, the largest single regeneration project in London. Other firms employed by Knight Dragon to develop the area include SOM, Marks Barfield, DSDHA, Alison Brooks and Duggan Morris, whose work will add a total of 15,720 new homes to the area alongside a host of public services.

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The "winter garden" at the center of the design will welcome arrivals from the London Underground. Image © Uniform

The “winter garden” at the center of the design will welcome arrivals from the London Underground. Image © Uniform

Envisioned as the “gateway” to this new area of London, at the center of the project is an 80-foot-high “winter garden” which will welcome arrivals from the new tube station, and a new footbridge will connect arrivals to developments on the rest of the peninsula. Calatrava’s Peninsula Place design will combine with two adjacent buildings by peninsula masterplanners Allies & Morrison to create a new neighborhood of 800 homes, including 200 affordable homes.

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The new footbridge will connect Peninsula Place to the rest of the Greenwich Peninsula. Image © Uniform

The new footbridge will connect Peninsula Place to the rest of the Greenwich Peninsula. Image © Uniform

“It is an honor to be designing such a piece of the fabric of London, a city I love,” said Santiago Calatrava. “In designing this scheme, I have been inspired by London’s rich architectural heritage and the very special geography of the Peninsula. It will be a project that reflects both this and the ambition of Knight Dragon for Greenwich Peninsula.”

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The "Galleria" will offer a promenade full of shops, restaurants and cafes. Image © Uniform

The “Galleria” will offer a promenade full of shops, restaurants and cafes. Image © Uniform

“I am delighted that Santiago Calatrava has chosen London for his first major project in the UK,” added Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. “This shows that London remains open to investment, trade and the very best talent from around the globe. This new landmark for London and the growth of this area of London will create a new cultural district for Londoners and visitors from around the world.”

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Architect and Engineer: Santiago Calatrava
Executive Architect: Adamson Associates
Architect PP2: Allies and Morrison
Structural Engineer of record: Meinhardt
MEP Engineer: AECOM
Quantity Surveyor: Alinea
Hotel Architect: Reardon Smith
Hotel Advisors: Hamiltons
Office Advisors: Cushman & Wakefield
Retail Advisors: CWM in combination with Anne Hynes Consulting Ltd
Traffic Engineer: WSP
Planning Consultant: Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners
Gym Consultants: RCH
Legals: Forsters
Principle Designer: Stace
Urban Realm Designers: Schulz + Grassov
Daylight, sunlight, wind: Urban Microclimate
Development Agreement Model: Montagu Evans

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