Nader Tehrani Named Dean of School of Architecture at the Cooper Union

July 13, 2015, Washington, DC – Nader Tehrani has been named Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union in New York City – one of the most prestigious art and design universities in the United States.  The Iranian American designer has led the architecture department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 2010 to 2014 and is the principal of NADAAA, which is an architectural practice dedicated to the advancement of design innovation. 

Since receiving his Masters of Architecture in Urban Design at Harvard University, Tehrani has won many awards such as the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture, the US Artists Fellowship in Architecture & Design, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture.  In both 2013 and 2014, Tehrani’s firm, NADAAA, was the top ranked practice in design according to Architect Magazine’s Top 50 Firms.  As of July 1st, Tehrani can also add “Dean” to his extensive resume.

Richard S. Lincer, chairman of the Cooper Union Board of Trustees, had nothing but kind words to say about Tehrani. 

“Not only is he a highly respected designer whose work has been widely published and exhibited, but he is an academic leader who intermingles pedagogy and practice in a way the Cooper Union community can recognize and appreciate,” Lincer said in an official statement.

In an interview with PAAIA, Tehrani revealed that his Iranian heritage has impacted his architectural designs.  He is inspired by Iran’s own rich beauties: the urbanism of Isfahan, the masonry work of the Seljuk period, and the sustainable wind towers of Yazd, just to name a few.  However, Tehrani admits that the whole world has influenced his design process.  After all, he was born in London, and lived in, Pakistan, South Africa, Iran, and Italy.  He has been living in the U.S. for over thirty years, yet his practice continues to take him all over the world.

“Today, the global citizen is more the convention than exception, even more so with the internet as our conduit for intellectual and cultural travel,” explains Tehrani.  “For this reason, the idea of the hybrid, the exquisite corpse, or the ‘composite’ become salient metaphors for the ‘Iranian American’ identity, much like the identity of the broader American condition today.”

Tehrani recognizes the diversity in the Iranian American community and understands the difficulty in providing guidance that can be helpful to all.  Nevertheless, he advises young Iranian Americans to view uncertainty “not as a debilitating factor, but as an opportunity.”  He also believes it is important “to think speculatively, to take risks, and not to fear failure.”

With some interesting projects already underway, the Cooper Union and NADAAA will keep Tehrani busy.  He is hoping the two spheres will benefit each other in productive ways.  The new dean also looks forward to learning more about the school and working with the faculty. 


Click here to view NADAAA’s website.

Click here to view Cooper Union’s article about Tehrani’s new position.

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