Spring 05

Islamic Cities in the Classical Age

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Elie George Haddad

"Architecture in Lebanon: from Modernism to Contemporary Trends"


Architecture in Lebanon [1950-2000]. This paper will present a survey of the development of architecture in Lebanon, one of the foremost modernizing countries in the Arab world, which, after its independence in 1943, witnessed a process of renewal in which architecture played a visible role as a mediator of positive political and economic change. One of the main questions remains about the relationship between such changes, no matter how positive, and the cultural climate in which they occur. Do they appear as "imports", foreign to the context in which they are projected? Or are they normal extensions of a historical process that affects the whole world in phases?

The importation of styles seems to be, unfortunately the case of many countries that fall now under the categorization of "third-world" countries, where the existence of "modern" forms did not happen concurrently with a general level of industrialization, economic development and individual emancipation. In such cases, new forms appear within "traditional" contexts more as samples of another way of life, imported for their apparent promises of fast emancipation. It is in this sense that we may understand the enthusiasm with which traditional societies initially welcome the arrival of new colonizers that soon remodel the traditional landscape in their own urban and visual language.

In this presentation, I will discuss the process of dissemination in the specific case of Lebanon, which attempted to develop its own architectural identity after its independence in 1943. I will specifically discuss three moments in the developments of architecture in Lebanon: the first phase, influenced by the process of modernization around the world [1950-1975], the second phase in the midst of the civil war [1975-1990] and the third phase after the end of the civil war [1990-present] showing examples of the different realizations that developed throughout this period. Within the scope of this presentation I will be discussing examples of the contemporary architectural "scene" in Beirut, and their effect, if any, of the development of a new direction in architecture.


Elie Haddad studied architecture at the American University of Beirut and the Boston Architectural Center [1982-88] then received his Masters from the University of Cincinnati [1991] and his PhD in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania [1998].

He has been a full time faculty member at the Department of Architecture at the Lebanese American University since 1994 and was appointed Chair of the Department in September 2000.

Dr. Haddad has been active in academic circles, where he has participated in a number of international conferences, organized local conferences, the latest being a symposium on Contemporary Discourses in Architecture in May 2004 in Beirut, and published articles on architectural theory and urbanism.

Among his publications:
Projects for a Competition: The Souks of Beirut, 1994
forthcoming publication in Urban Design International, issue 9:3, Fall 2004
Beyrouth : Reconstruire la ville apres la guerre civile
in Faces, Journal of the Institute of Architecture at the University of Geneva, Issue # 56, Autumn 2004
Against Reification: Re-reading Manfredo Tafuri
in Datutop 24, Journal of Tampere University of Technology
The Realization of the Beautiful: On Henry van de Velde's Aesthetic Theory
in Fabrications, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, Vol. 13, No.1, June 2003
On Van de Velde's Manuscript on Ornament
in Journal of Design History, Oxford University Press, Vol. 16, No.2, 2003

Alka Patel

"Nation, Myth and Memory: The Reception of Ghurid Architecture East of the Indus"


The Ghurids, originally the Shansabani clan from Ghur (north-central Afghanistan), established the first Islamic government with enduring ambitions east of the Indus, thus beginning a succession of Islamic states in the region lasting through the mid-18 th century.   The architectural significance of Ghurid buildings is unquestionable, as they set the course for South Asian Islamic architecture for centuries to come. Despite the importance of Ghurid buildings as the first monuments of a long-term Islamic rulership in the region, scholars have given them relatively little attention. This paper will analyze the surviving Ghurid complexes in India as primary sources. By means of meticulous stylistic comparisons and material analyses of the buildings, we can perceive indices not only of how they were constructed, but also of the relationships between the builders and their new Ghurid patrons.   Moreover, such analyses can elucidate these complexes' receptions by the patrons and craftspeople who brought them into being, and the communities who lived and worshiped in their shadows.


Dr. Alka Patel obtained her doctorate in 2000 from the Department of the History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University.   Between 2000 and 2003, she was Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as well as a Fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows.   In 2004, EJ Brillof Leiden published Dr. Patel's first book titled Building Communities in Gujarat: Architecture and Society during the Twelfth through Fourteenth Centuries .   Dr. Patel has also published scholarly articles on the Islamic architecture of South Asia in Archives of Asian Art and The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Recently, she was guest editor of the 50 th -anniversary volume of Ars Orientalis   (2004), bringing together a selection of papers presented at her Michigan conference titled Communities and Commodities: Western India and the Indian Ocean (11 th -15 th Centuries) .

Through January, 2005, Dr. Patel was a Senior Fellow at the American Institute of Indian Studies (Chicago and New Delhi) conducting fieldwork in India toward her second book, tentatively called The Ghurid Architecture of South Asia and Historiography at the Ends of the Islamic World .   It is the fruits of this fieldwork that she presents to us today in her paper "Nation, Myth and Memory: The Reception of Ghurid Architecture East of the Indus."