He is currently researching the paradigmatic changes in urban design education and practice in the region with a focus on postwar Lebanon. He is the editor of a forthcoming book titled: "Reconceptualizing Boundaries: Urban Design in the Arab World" (Ashgate, 2014). He coordinated the graduate program in Urban Planning and Policy and Urban Design at AUB between 2008 and 2011 and was a visiting professor in urban design at the Department of Architecture, Technical University of Damstadt, Germany, in the spring of 2011. As a Chevening scholar at Oxford Brookes University, he conducted postgraduate research on coastal management in the Mediterranean region. He has served as a land use consultant with the World Bank and UN-Habitat on the state of the environment in Lebanon and previously worked as an urban design consultant and a city planning associate at the Community Redevelopment Agency in Los Angeles, California.
Regular Program Contributors
Maya Abou-Zeid is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and a research affiliate of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She has experience in the areas of travel behavior modeling and forecasting and urban transportation planning. Abou-Zeid holds a bachelor degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from AUB (2001), a master in Transportation from MIT (2003), and her PhD in Transportation from MIT (2009). Her dissertation focused on measuring and modeling activity and travel well-being. She was an Associate of Cambridge Systematics from 2003 to 2005, working in the area of travel demand forecasting and market research.
Her current research projects include studying measures for improved walkability and enhanced public transportation services in Lebanon, including new bus amenities and new taxi-sharing services; modeling aggressive driving behavior using a driving simulator to quantify aggressiveness and improve road safety; modeling mass effects and their influence on car ownership decisions across cultures in order to derive normative policy measures for reducing car ownership rates; developing enhanced activity-based travel demand models; and developing new measures of activity and travel experienced well-being that will be used in conjunction with a Smartphone application that records travel patterns.
Yaser Abunnasr is an Associate Professor at the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management at the American University of Beirut. He is trained as an architect and a landscape architect and holds degrees in both fields. He received his PhD in Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Abunnasr adopts a landscape and environmental approach to urban and regional planning that mediates ecological and ecosystem concerns with community wellbeing and livelihood. Dr. Abunnasr’s current research is focused on green infrastructure systems as a planning and design tool for climate change adaptation for urban and regional resilience. His work on adaptation planning investigates frameworks and procedures that account for impacts on natural and manmade systems, incorporate uncertainty in current and future conditions in the planning process and addresses vulnerability and exposure of communities to these impacts.
Work on green infrastructure is conceptualized as a landscape system that operates at multi-scales, provides multiple benefits, and enhances places of living. Dr. Abunnasr is currently researching the impact of different land-uses on the availability and morphology of physical space, including hybrid systems (natural engineered systems) that provide opportunities to retrofit urban regions with green infrastructure systems. Dr. Abunnasr is in the process of applying research on adaptation and green infrastructure planning to the MENA region. Dr. Abunnasr is also trained as an archeologist. He extends this interest into applying community based landscape approaches to conservation of cultural and archeological heritage sites to extend their role as open spaces that contribute to everyday living. In his spare time, Dr. Abunnasr enjoys photography, travel and reading a good book.
Hana Alamuddine is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a LEED Green Associate. Alamuddine holds a master degree in Architecture from MIT. She started her practice in Lebanon, Almimariya, Architects and Designers, in 1999. The practice works on architectural, urban design and landscape projects within the perimeters of sustainable development and construction. Alamuddin served as a technical reviewer for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for three cycles. She is also a senior lecturer at the American University of Beirut. As a member of the executive committee of the Association Pour la Protection des Sites et Anciennes Demeures du Liban from 1999 to 2008, she worked on several heritage preservation projects in Lebanon.
She is also an active member of the Lebanese Green Building Council. For more information, please check www.almimariya.com
Bizhan Azad is an Associate Professor with the School of Business at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Azad holds a bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering and Machine Tool Automation from the University of Salford (1978), master of Technology and Policy from MIT in (1980), and his PhD in Management of IT in Organizations from MIT (1998). He joined AUB in 2004 and has developed a wide range of executive-level courses in subjects such as process management, innovation management, and business information systems. His research interests include social theory, technology, information systems, and e-Government. Prior to joining AUB, Azad served at Project Director for the World Bank, Director of Implementation Services at GIS/Trans, Ltd. and Director of Information and Policy Support for the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
Among his publications are 'Leading and Managing the GIS Implementation Process: Beyond the Myth of GIS Champion' in Geographic Information Research: Bridging the Atlantic (edited chapter, by Taylor & Francis, 1997), 'Institutionalized Computer Workaround Practices in a Mediterranean Country: An Examination of Two Organizations' (European Journal of Information Systems, 2012), and a chapter in The Materiality of Technology: An Affordance Perspective (Oxford, 2012). Along with his role at AUB, Azad has continued to be an active contributor in institutional reform, serving as an advisor to the Minister of Finance in Lebanon in designing process improvements and consulting for the International Finance Corporation in business reporting on Lebanon.
Habib Debs is an architect, urban planner, civil engineer and owner of the URBI firm in Beirut. Debs holds bachelor degrees in both civil engineering from the American University of Beirut (AUB) (1981) and architecture from Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA) (1984), and a masters in Urban planning from Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees (1986). After working as a Project Manager with EPA FRANCE, Debs launched the URBI firm in 1991 and has since developed numerous architectural, urban planning and design projects for both public agencies and private developers in Lebanon, France and the Middle East. Among these projects, Debs has proposed strategic interventions for the Caza of Tyre, Lebanon, the Tandabawi district in Makkah, and Plaine de Boissy in the Paris region; has provided land use plans for Jezzine, High Metn, Moukhtara, and Hrajel for the in Lebanon; and partnered with Solidere International in creating master plans for New Cairo (2007-2008) and Ajman (2009-2010).
Additionally, Debs specializes in urban revitalization in heritage districts and has worked on preservation project in Damascus city center in Syria (2010), Benghazi Old City in Lybia (2010), and the Old City of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (2009-2010). Debs has also participated in several post-war reconstruction projects in Lebanon; notably in Beirut and Salima following the civil war and in Bint Jbeil after the war of 2006. In addition to his professional experience, Debs has taught courses in architecture and urban planning at the AUB, ALBA and the Lebanese University. Among his publications are contributions to Lessons in Post-War Reconstruction, ed. Howayda al-Harithy (Routledge, 2010), and Interfaces: Agricultures et villes à l’Est et au Sud de la Méditerranée (Beirut: Editions Delta and IFPO, 2004).
Ramzi Farhat is Adjunct Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the MUPP/MUD Program. Dr. Farhat’s research is focused on discretionary and decentralized approaches to development control, the interface between planning and building law, place making through public-private partnerships, and cultural planning. His research is published in journals such as Planning Practice and Research, Cities, Journal of Urban Design, and Urban Studies. Dr. Farhat teaches classes on comparative urbanism, planning and land building codes, urban design and land use planning, and has led service learning-studios on municipal planning in both Lebanon and the U.S. He earned his doctorate in Policy, Planning, and Development from the University of Southern California, and an M.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the architecture program at AUB.
Serge Yazigi is an architect and urban planner. He practices as an architect, a consultant in sustainable development, urban renewal, land-use planning, and strategic planning and has developed an extensive experience working in these fields in Lebanon as well as Tunis, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt...etc. In 2005, Yazigi founded Yazigi Atelier, a planning, architecture and design consultancy firm from which he conducts most of his work. In addition, between 1999-2009, Yazigi has acted as a senior external consultant for Dar Al Hadassah Taleb & partners on all their architectural and planning projects in Lebanon and the region.
Yazigi’s research interests led him to found in 2007 Majal, an Academic Urban Observatory at ALBA based at the University of Balamand, which aims to facilitate research and assist localities in the formulation of adapted development strategies. Through Majal, Yazigi has directed numerous publication addressing particularly planning law and regulations.
Yazigi has taught courses in architecture and planning at ALBA (University of Balamand), the Lebanese University, the Université Saint Joseph and the American University of Beirut. Yazigi holds a PhD in Contemporary History in the field of urban renewal, from the University of Bordeaux 3, France; and a DESS degree in Urban Planning and a Master’s degree in Architecture, both from Balamand University.