The Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT is pleased to announce that it is now the home of the Rifat Chadirji Archive. One of the most influential Iraqi architects of the 20th century, Chadirji was also an accomplished photographer, author, teacher, and critic. Chadirji was born in Baghdad in 1926, was educated in the UK, and returned to Iraq upon graduating as an active participant in the modernization of the country, working with notable architects and designers from Europe, the United States, and Iraq including, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto, and Mohamed Makiya. Chadirji dedicated his life to the search for an appropriate contemporary architectural expression synthesizing elements of the rich Islamic cultural heritage with key principles of the international architecture of the 20th century. Chadirji believed that architecture’s future lies in lessons learned from its past. His designs are transformations of regional forms that seek to express, by means of abstraction, the construction technologies in almost universal use today, while affirming the aesthetic values.
In 1986, Mr. Chadirji received an Aga Khan Chairman’s Award for Lifetime Achievements. In 2015, Chadirji was awarded the Tamayouz Architectural Lifetime Achievement Award, an award that celebrates the pioneers of Iraqi architecture and is “presented annually to an individual who has had a significant contribution towards the advancement of architecture in Iraq.”
With this gift, the Center becomes the repository for archives of three leading pioneers of modern architecture in Iraq: Mohamed Makiya, Hisham Munir, and, now, Rifat Chadirji. A relatively new initiative, developed when AKDC was formally re-envisioned and restructured in 2011, the Center has quickly achieved the status of a world-class research center for the archives of distinguished architects from the Islamic world.
Sharon C. Smith, Ph.D.
Program Head, Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT
7 January 2017