AIA LA / SoCal NOMA J.E.D.I. Joint Committee Program: Discover Iranian-American Culture & Architects in LA
J.E.D.I. Voices: Discover Iranian-American Culture & Architects in LA
Southern California boasts the largest population of Iranians outside of Iran, and Los Angeles is home to a 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.
This is a free virtual event.
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.
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.
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.