Maryam Eskandari

From Stranded to Standard: Who’s to Blame for the Failure in Bangladesh Fire

From Stranded to Standard: Who’s to Blame for the Failure in Bangladesh Fire

In the incident that we witnessed last week, the factory burning and collapsing killing 300 people and leaving 1200 people severely injured in Savar, Bangladesh, is the sacrifice that these companies make: buildings and lives. Several companies establish factories and production lines similar to this one in rural and developing countries in order to avoid building and maintenance codes that are established in the United States and Europe, keeping cost and overhead to a minimum and maximizing marginal profit. In the United States, when a building is under construction, there are several building permits that have to be acquired before a building is allowed to have any occupancy. Two of the major building permits are the “Fire Codes” known as NFPA Codes (National Fire Protection Association) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), which allows for the clearance of building materials– dead loads, such as building vertically, and live loads, which is the occupancy rate of each room/floor.

Read More

MIIM Designs' Founder and Principal Architect Maryam Eskandari Featured in Harvard's Islawmix Magazine

MIIM Designs' Founder and Principal Architect Maryam Eskandari was featured in Harvard University's "islawmix" magazine on the "history, representation and role" of the mosque in the nascent Muslim community and today. The mosque historically has served as a social, spiritual, educational and even economic center for Muslims. MIIM elaborated on the commercial role of the mosque as a contributor to the economic growth of the Muslim community:

"According to Maryam Eskandari, an American architect focusing on creating inclusive Islamic architecture who recently sat down with islawmix and will be featured in the upcoming parts of this series, the relationship between the mosques and surrounding businesses was extremely mutual and contributed to the economic growth of the community as well as the sustenance of the mosques: since mosques were a central communal space, it made sense for merchants to establish themselves there, attracting any and all congregants. The merchants, in turn, would donate portions of their earnings to the mosque for its care and growth. Indeed, we find that the Ka’aba, the holiest site in Islam to where Muslims are obliged to perform pilgrimage at least once in their lifetimes if they are able to, itself was a commercial center both before and after the establishment of Islam"


"While the state of the mosque in its communities evolved throughout the centuries, its position in the heart of the Muslim community in which it was built remained strong as did its function as a space for worship, social interaction, education, justice and commercialism. The mosque was never just walls, brick and calligraphy thrown together for ritual prayer. Instead it was a place of almost functional worship in which the very existence and cultivation of the mutual and altruistic relationships within the community were acts of devotion to God. Today, its role differs greatly from not only society to society – but neighborhood to neighborhood as a result of several factors. This fluctuation has been nowhere more apparent than in the United States."

Read more here.

Maryam Eskandari will be the Keynote Speaker at MPA-Houston

ith more than 6 million Muslims residing in the United States there is an ever-present demand for construction of mosques in U.S. cities. The evening will provide a reflection of American history with a focus on the integration of the Muslim community. Maryam Eskandari will present case studies of mosques in the United States to investigate the architectural design and socially negotiated places of the Muslim community.

MIIM Designs Islamic Architecture Maryam eskandari banner_for_mail_champ.2.png

6:00 PM . . . Registration & Networking
6:35 PM . . . Community Spotlight
6:40 PM . . . MPA Updates
6:45 PM . . . Keynote Speech
7:10 PM . . . Q&A
7:30 PM . . . Call to Action / Close
7:35 PM . . . Dinner

Embassy Suites:
11730 Katy Freeway Houston, TX 77079 | View Map

Register Here

MIIM Designs LLC Commits to Partnership with Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

MIIM Designs Islamic Architecture Sustainability United Nations.png

June 1, 2012
MIIM Designs LLC led by co-founder Maryam Eskandari have been invited to take part in Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. MIIM Designs will take part in two platforms: Sustainable Cities and Innovations and Sustainable Development for Fighting Poverty.
Sustainability and Innovations are pillars of development which many cities are struggling to embrace albeit with challenges. Led by Prof. Winnie Mitullah, the concepts are closely linked and have several tenets and cities across the globe address the challenges in varied manner depending on their level of awareness, capacity, and ability to rally relevant resources, including stakeholders. It is therefore useful to hear voices across the globe and share ideas on the challenges facing cities, how the challenges are being addressed, and effective responses and recommendations for ensuring sustainability and innovative approaches for managing cities. We will be focusing on ways to make a contributions to assist heads of State and Governments in Rio+20 come up with: 
· Governance models which acknowledge the partnership approaches, and enable cities to effectively reproduce themselves. 
· Coordination mechanisms for ensuring synergy among various actors operating within cities. 
· Innovative ways and means of mobilizing resources required for various interventions, and effective management of cities for sustainability. 

Sustainable Development for Fighting Poverty initiated twenty years ago at the Earth Summit, or Rio 92, produced two important documents that related to sustainable development with fighting poverty: 1) the Letter of the Earth, 2) Agenda 21 in order to match economic growth and population growth in a sustainable manner according to a model economically viable, socially just and environmentally sound.
In 2000, during the United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders committed to implement by 2015 the Millennium Development Goals, among which include the reversal of extreme poverty, hunger and disease that affect billions of people around the world.
The challenge of Rio +20 must, first, re-validate theses tools and reinforce the importance of its implementation on the horizon proposed: 2015, calling on all sectors of society public, private and third sector, to demand and work on its implementation.
New proposals must be prepared, seeking to enrich these tools and make them more practical and objective: Incorporating measures to avoid future economic crises and build resilience in the eradication of poverty. Much effort in formulation, planning and monitoring results have been achieved and should not be wasted, but enhanced.
Nevertheless the main question that we hope to resolve and answer is:What are the main challenges and objectives for Sustainable Development to succeed in Fighting Poverty? 
· Which specific sustainable development policies, explicitly aimed at the eradication of poverty at the local, regional and global level, have been successful? 
· How do we reduce the number of people living on less than 1.25 per day? 
· How to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young? 
· Income partnerships between nations and between different sectors (public, private and third sector) in order to end poverty and promote sustainable development? 

· Promote family health, combat infectious diseases (malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and others) and reduce child mortality?

MIIM Designs "Sacred Space" Exhibition Opens in San Francisco Gallery

Feb. 14, 2012 - May. 31, 2012

9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.

At the offices of the Foundation, 5 Hamilton Landing, Suite 200, Novato

RECEPTION: Thursday March 22, 2012 4:30-6:30 pm

MIIM Designs Islamic Architecture sacred-space Maryam Eskandari.jpg

"Muslim Eyes" is an exhibit that sprang from the mission of the Marin Community Foundation. When a community—supported by religious, faith-based, and nonprofit organizations as well as concerned and engaged individuals—engages in activities to promote social justice and interfaith understanding, sustainable change can occur. To this end, MCF supports efforts that increase awareness, mobilize communities, and catalyze social change to address social inequities in Marin County and around the country. MCF strives to support the powerful link between interfaith dialogue and understanding and creating positive social change.

2011: A Year of Change

December 31, 2011 | Maryam Eskandari

featured in NYC Elan Magazine

2011 was an unforgettable year with the rise of the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movements challenging the corporate world and a general overall social consciousness.  Architects, too, learned that it is our responsibility to design in such a way to enhance and impact some of the world’s urgent concerns: poverty, climate change, unemployment, energy crises and education. With community’s no longer willing to accept the status quo, as we’ve seen in many parts of the world with successful protests, education is a key component for the mass majority. Education has always been a right and architecture has played a vital role in creating school buildings, which have become a teaching tool for urban sprawl in a poverty setting, have responded to climate change, sustainability, energy crises and preservation of culture and heritage. For example, the Children Academy in Haiti, the Boarding School for Girls in India, the Bamboo School in Liberia and The United Nations Relief and Works Agency Zero Carbon Gas Schools in Gaza Palestine, are all exemplary projects that can be set a new standard for architectural education.

MIIM Designs Islamic Architecture Haiti-Childrens-Academy-BAR-Architects-3.jpg

“Haiti Partner’s Children Academy”, by San Francisco based BAR Architects in association with Haiti Partners developed an innovative self-sustaining community school in the post- earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The 38,000 square foot complex is perched high within the Mariaman Hills, approximately 2,500 feet above sea level overlooking the rugged steep terrain towards the heart of the urban city center. The learning facility will accommodate 450 students of all class range: from kindergarten through 12th, in its self sustaining building. The building is to be constructed with local materials: limestone and reinforced cinder block. An outdoor amphitheater will be carved into the natural bowl shaped hillside and a vegetable garden is to be tended and managed by the students. The distance from the urban city sprawl to the school is greatly numbered; hence the power grid requires the series of structures to collect its own solar energy, and supply the power to the school. Other sustainable features include rainwater harvesting for irrigation, a local well for potable water and the use of composting toilets. Ground breaking began in the fall and the project is set to be complete in 2014.

MIIM Designs Islamic Architecture Boarding Girls 4.jpg

In the northern region of India, Rajasthan, known as the “land of kings and colors”, is the new Boarding School for Girls, designs by STL Architects in collaboration with Celestial Partnership.  The 103 acres of land is divided into three parts: Learn, Live and Play and drawing inspiration from the stark geometry of the 6thcentury palaces of Meenas, Rajputs, Yadavs, Jats, Bhils, Gurjars and Bishnois, through the exuberant lattices of intricate patterns and evoking landscapes. Using these palaces as precedents, the design of the 39 acres Boarding School for Girls draws inspiration from the collection of small kingdoms connects the ancient past with modern society, creating a distinct traditional, yet modern architecture that negates the changes of the architectural vocabulary during the age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. The design of the school emulates the monumental circulation paths of the palaces; illuminating hierarchical arches that are proportioned exuberantly into a peaceful geometric garden which creates a serene environment for students, faculty and visitors.

For fourteen years, from 1989 to 2003 the country of Liberia has been ripped into two civil wars, killing over 300,000 civilians. Currently the country is the 162nd constitution of the Human Development Index and is still recovering from the devastations of these wars. However, Brazilian architect, André Dal’Bó da Costa, has been determined to develop the most important social and architectural programmatically educational building: The Bamboo School Project. The Bamboo School Project is to rebuild the foundations of a proper school and provide and environment where education is accessible. The building is to be a prefabricated building designed offsite, and assembled in Liberia using local materials, mainly bamboo and enclosed using adobe masonry, a Liberian technique. The adobe allows for a porous surface on the exterior that will protect the interior from rain, yet allow for natural lighting to penetrate through.  The tin-roof construction allows for other fundamental amenities such as water, light and sanitation; and currently to house 160 students from the ages of 3 to 15. The students learn English, Reading, Writing, Science and Mathematics. The future goal is to expand the size of each school to accommodate up to 300 students.

MIIM Designs Islamic Architecture Gaza Green2.jpg

Lastly, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, along with Mario Cucinella Architects with the financial support of Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development through the Islamic Development Bank are in the process of building a standalone school building in the Gaza strip. This Zero Carbon Gas Schools in Gaza Palestine relies only on renewable, free and local available resources such as rainwater harvesting, zero CO2 emissions solar and ground energy. The design of the school is to promote the use of affordable and locally available materials as well as expanding on the development of simple construction systems, mitigating the use of advanced and expensive technologies. The construction of the schools is to be composed of three distinctive elements: a concrete slab foundation, pre-fabricated concrete pillars, and an overhanging roof. The concrete slab foundation would include rainwater tanks as heat/cold storage for the heating/cooling of interiors. The tanks are sized in order to fulfill the overall water demands of the building all year long. The Pre-fabricated concrete pillars are to be filled with the excavated ground. This allows for huge thermal mass in order to minimize temperature swings. The overhanging roofs act as a second bio-climate, regulating the daylight and solar gain provided into the classrooms. The roof area is sized according to the average rainfall in order to match water demands, and integrated on the roof are the solar thermal and photovoltaic cells that meet the electricity demands of appliances and provide hot water. Originally the school(s) was to be a pilot project has now expanded towards a sustainable, carbon-free Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory and 20 more schools are to be built. Through the educational and instillation of water resource management, efficient renewable energy through solar and wind technology, the demand for fossil fuel in occupied Palestinian territory as well as Lebanon, Jordan and Syria will be alleviated.

As we saw in 2011, the world faces various problems, all of which are weaved by a unified ribbon. Some countries choose to continue to dominate in the greed of the natural environment and only expand their own wealth through building mile high skyscrapers and Platinum LEED University campuses, while others see their wealth in educating the next generation in the natural local materials through generating sustainable architecture. It is critical that different architects pursue their own passion, some give into the demands of the client and are swept away by the financial means ofcreating a grown-up playground in one of the most highly cultural and religious holy lands, while other architects recognize their practice as an activism in educating the public of the historical attributes that lies beneath our feet and pushing for a comprehensive solution. As architects play a critical role in 2012, we need remember that architecture should embrace the environment, social, mental and political problems and most importantly, through the patronage of architecture, the values of humanity are hoped to be instilled in our next generations.

Bringing the Pilgrims to Qom

March 25, 2011 | Maryam Eskandari

featured in PBS|Frontline - Tehran Bureau 

Islamic Republic of Iran push to develop Shia holy city of Qom as a top Middle Eastern destination.

[ dispatch ] Since the early 16th century, during the Safavid dynasty, the holy city of Qom has been a significant center of Shia theological education and a locus of pilgrimage. Recently, its development has become a top priority for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Over the past eight years, Iran has been expanding Qom, not only as an "Islamic Education Center," in competition with other such cities such as Najaf, Iraq, but with the goal of making it one of the major destinations in the Middle East.

MIIM Designs_Islamic Architecture_Iran_Qom.jpg

After the late 1700s, when the city flourished as a center of religious learning under Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar, little attention was paid to its development for more than century. However, in 1915, when invading Russian forces entered the nearby city of Karaj, many residents of Tehran province moved to Qom, spurring its growth into one of the region's major metropolitan areas. Consideration was even given to shifting the Iranian capital from Tehran to Qom. Over the past six years, under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a vast amount of development money has been flowing into the city.

Read more: