Judges at Middle East Architect Awards, MEA Awards, MEA Awards 2017, Middle East Architect Awards

Meet the judges for MEA Awards 2017

Get the know the eight-member strong judging panel for MEA Awards 2017.

The Middle East Architect Awards 2017 is just around the corner on 22 November 2017 in Dubai, UAE. Each year, the awards ceremony gathers hundreds of architects from across the Middle East and beyond, making it a great opportunity to aknowledge the regional industry’s stellar achievements from the past year, as well as network and exchange with fellow architects, developers and engineers.

There are 13 categories this year, including residential project of the year, commercial project of the year and education project of the year. The awards also recognises individuals and firms like boutique firm of the year and engineer, young architect, architect and principal of the year.

With more than 350 nominations in – an MEA Awards record – we’ll be working on the shortlist for all 13 categories. The shortlist will be announced on the designMENA website as well as in our next issue, so make sure to check back in with us for updates.

It’s time to introduce our readers to this year’s judging panel. From local and international architects to regional academics and institution representatives, the panel for this year’s MEA Awards is a stellar stand-up of industry heavyweights, chosen for their commitment to bettering and strengthening regional and global architecture.

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Partner at Bjarke Ingels Group

Based in New York, Bergmann’s work spans across North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Currently heading BIG’s business development, which currently sees the office working in 20 different countries, as well as overseeing BIG’s Communications, Bergmann is a registered architect in the US and Canada, with his most recent work being BIG’s resiliency plan to protect 10 miles of Manhattan’s coastline. He’s also lectured at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Florida, IE University in Madrid and the University of Virginia. He sits on the Board of the Van Alen Institute, participates on numerous international juries and lectures globally on the works of BIG.

Dara John Towhidi, Partner at Foster + Partners

Towhidi oversees the recently opened Foster + Partners Dubai office and its several large projects across the Middle East. He joined the international architecture practice in 1997, after gaining first class honours from the esteemed Bartlett School of Architecture. Dara has led diverse projects internationally including Kamakura House in Japan, Bund Financial Centre in Shanghai, the Index tower in Dubai, the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi and, more recently, the winning competition entry for the Creative Community in Dubai’s Design District (d3). He has also recently led the winning scheme to transform a landmark building in Mayfair, London into high-end residential apartments.

Sumaya Dabbagh, Principal at Dabbagh Architects and Chair of RIBA Gulf Chapter

Founder of the Dubai-based Dabbagh Architects as well as chair of the RIBA Gulf Chapter, Dabbagh is an award-winning Saudi architect that was educated in the UK. Today, she’s acquired extensive experience in architecture and interior design, as her career spans 20 years. She’s worked in a wide range of sectors, including commercial, retail, residential, education and culture. Perhaps one of her greatest claims to fame is her multi-award winning Mleiha Archaeological Centre in Sharjah, which was also shortlisted for a World Architecture Festival Award earlier this year. Dabbagh is also an active member of the architecture community through her work with RIBA, as well as through her participation in conferences and seminars.

Cristiano Luchetti, Assistant professor at the American University of Sharjah and architect

A registered architect with more than 15 years of experience in leading the design of a variety of large scale projects in the residential, commercial and hospitality sectors across China, India, the Middle East and South East Asia, Luchetti has been an assistant professor at the American University of Sharjah since 2012. Though he currently teaches design studio, urban design and drawing, Luchetti holds a Master of Architecture degree from Pennsylvania State University and often contributes to industry dialogue and exchange. Outside of the classroom, Luchetti often writes about the architecture and urban development of the Middle East as an architectural critic for international publications.

Phillip Jones, Principal and managing director of the Middle East and North Africa at B+H Architects

Joining B+H Architects in 2011 in Dubai, Jones has more than 35 years of experience managing international, complex and large-scale projects. His work has taken him across the Middle East and North Africa, where he has honed his ability to successfully partner with global clients. Prior to B+H, Jones worked with other firms on major projects including Dubai Festival City, Dubai Marina Community Master Plan and the Flagship Six Tower Mixed Use Development in Dubai, as well as the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Jeddah. He received the Architecture and Global Urban Design Award in 2005 and also co-authored the city of Toronto’s ‘Initial Tall Building Design Guidelines’.

Mary Jane Rooney, Professor of Architecture at Heriot Watt University Dubai

Rooney is a RIBA qualified architect and urban designer who’s studied and worked in Ireland, the UK, India and France prior to relocating to Dubai. Her primary qualification in architecture provides her with a professional and disciplinary focus while subsequent postgraduate studies in conservation, urban design, city design and social science equip her with the knowledge to engage with the wider social and economic issues facing the development of cities. While she served as Head of the School of Architecture and Design at London South Bank University from 2006 to 2016, her current work at Heriot Watt has prompted her yearlong design project ‘Uncovering Bur-Dubai’.

Lotfi Sidirahal, Founder of Atelier Pod

Founder of Atelier Pod, an international architecture and interior design studio with branches in Paris, Dubai and Casablanca, Sidirahal belongs to an exclusive group of designers often called upon to design luxury branded hotels and resorts. At 22, his foremost research and prototypes were displayed in renowned art centres and exhibitions worldwide, such as the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rein and Hangaram Museum in Seoul. Today, he often works with hotel operators like Accor, Four Seasons, Carlson Rezidor, Anantara, Hilton and Fairmont. This past year, he received two World Architecture Hotel and Restaurant awards in Paris for his work on the Anantara Jabal Akhdar in Oman and the Villa Gapi in Casablanca.

Christian Vasquez, UAE Representative of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) and Board of AIA Middle East

The first Filipino to joing the CTBUH panel of representatives, an international body that serves the field of tall buildings and sustainable urban design, Vasquez has more than 15 years of experience. He’s also project architect and business development executive at the Dubai-based National Engineering Bureau, and has worked across the retail, residential, hospitality and masterplan sectors. He’s currently working on Marina 101 in Dubai, to be recognized as the second tallest building in the UAE. In 2016, he was awarded the Future Cities’ Young Architect of the Year award.