In Memoriam - Members of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture: Yavuz Sezer, Khaled Asfour, Jamal Abed, and Ghada Qaddoumi

Ashley Dimmig's picture

Dear colleagues,


It is with sadness that we announce the passing of four members of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Yavuz Sezer, Khaled Asfour, Jamal Abed, and Ghada Qaddoumi. Professor Nasser Rabbat (MIT) has kindly penned the following note in their memory:


April has not been kind to the small AKPIA community at MIT and Harvard.  We have lost four valuable colleagues and alums in one month, 3 to Covid-19 and one to a freak accident.  I would like to acknowledge their passing here as a small gesture to honor their memory.  Here they are:


Yavuz Sezer (MIT, PhD, 2016): was a lecturer in architecture and architectural history at Istanbul Bilgi University. An Ottomanist, Yavuz was interested in architectural and intellectual Ottoman history and in the instrumentalization of ethnography in the late Ottoman-early Republican period in Turkey.  He wrote a trailblazing dissertation at MIT on "The Architecture of Bibliophilia: Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Libraries," where he reconstructed not only the history of private libraries in the 18th century but also the intellectual and social changes that prompted the phenomenon of library building and their long-term impact.


Khaled Asfour (MIT, SMArchS 1987, PhD 1991): was a professor of architecture and criticism at Misr International University (MIU), Cairo, Egypt.  He also taught for a number of years at the College of Architecture and Planning at King Faisal University in Saudi Arabia.  Khaled wrote his dissertation "The Domestication of Knowledge: Cairo at the Turn of the Century," on the negotiation and tension between traditional and modern solutions in the architecture and planning of the new districts of Cairo in the 19th century.  He went on to become a critic of contemporary architecture in the Arab world, writing perceptive pieces on recent projects in Egypt, the Gulf, and architectural education in these countries. 


Jamal Abed (MIT, SMArchS 1988): was dean of architecture & design at Azm University in Tripoli, Lebanon.  Before that he was director of planning and design at Millennium Development International Holding.  He taught at the Department of Architecture and Design at AUB between 1988 and 2003 where he served as chairman and coordinator of the Masters Program.  His thesis at MIT, "Traditional building trades and crafts in changing socio-economic realities and present aesthetic values: Case studies in Syria," examines the revival of traditional building trades and crafts in modern Syria.  In 2004, he edited the proceedings of an Aga Khan Award for Architecture seminar, Architecture Re-introduced: New Projects in Societies in Change.


Ghada Qaddoumi (Harvard, PhD, 1990): was former president of the World Crafts Council, Asia Pacific Region, where she worked for the preservation of craft around the world.  Prior to that she served as curator at the Islamic Art Museum "Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyya," then as Deputy Director for Culture, Department of Antiquities and Museums, and in 2001 she became the Founder and Director of Research & Cultural Studies, all in Kuwait.  Ghada completed her PhD, "A Medieval Islamic Book of Gifts and Treasures," in 1990 at Harvard University, which came out later as a book.  More recently Ghada edited a book on Islamic Textiles.