Our Team

 Sara M. Anwar

Founder and Director, ARCHITECTEM

Sara M. Anwar trained as an Architect, has worked in various Design capacities and is a Serial Entrepreneur. Ms. Anwar graduated with a Bachelors in Architecture and Concentration in History of Architecture from Cornell University. She began her professional career working on the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in, Cincinnati Ohio, designed by Zaha Hadid. After moving to Dubai, she joined the New York based creative design agency The Seventh Art; producing strategies merging architectural design and other art forms. She worked on the Nakheel Properties project – Palm Trump Int’l Hotel & Tower, Dubai Infinity Holdings’ Isla Moda [an Oppenheim Architecture designed resort complex for Karl Lagerfeld] on the World Islands, Tameer Properties project – Atkins designed Anara Tower, as well as Research for Yas Hotel, Abu Dhabi and Ballad Regeneration Project Jeddah. Ms. Anwar has inherited a strong passion for entrepreneurship. Working closely within her family owned business spanning 3 continents, instilled in her an adeptness for business development and management. Previously Ms. Anwar has channeled her design and entrepreneurial energies in founding two design labels SaraKhokhar and Curtas for Cure. SaraKhokar, focused on materiality, textures and a surgical study of production processes of fabric dyeing, pattern making and seaming. Curtas for Cure is an ongoing volunteer run project committed to funding palliative care and cancer treatments through sales of handcrafted fusion Curtas. Her interest in shifting scales has allowed her to pursue furniture and spatial design. Her love for academics has taken her back to Cornell, serving as jury on Cornell Summer Architecture reviews and also at American University of Sharjah. Her passion for entrepreneurship, strong design background and predilection for architecture, inspired ARCHITECTEM.


///// UPDATING :: Please bear with us as we are trying to keep pace with the expanding network of ARCHITECTEM Advisors and Contributors /////

Andrea Simitch

Andrea L. Simitch

Professor, Chair of the Department of Architecture, Cornell University 

Andrea Simitch is the Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow and chair of the Department of Architecture at Cornell University. She teaches classes in architectural design, architectural representation, and furniture design.

Simitch served as director of the bachelor of architecture program from 2011–14, as director of undergraduate studies from 2007–08, and as associate dean of AAP from 2002–03. She has been a panelist on the New York State Council on the Arts, a department representative for the Cornell Council for the Arts, and was a faculty collaborator with the Andrew Goldsworthy workshop at Storm King. Val Warke and she partner in a collaborative architectural practice and recent projects include the Seneca House as featured in Architectural Record; Nalati National Park Resort and the Eco-Tourism Strategic Planning Proposal, both for Nalati, China; as well as numerous collaborative design competitions that include the Arbedo Castione school in Ticino, Switzerland, the Center for Promotion of Science of the Republic of Serbia Competition, Benetton Competition “Designing in Teheran,” and the Stockholm City Library Competition.

Simitch has taught extensively for Cornell in numerous international venues that include Europe and Central and South America and is regularly invited to lecture and participate in diploma juries and symposia at peer institutions, most recently in Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Student work from her furniture design class has been exhibited at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City. She was a 2015 fellow at the Baer Art Center in Hofsós, Iceland. The Language of Architecture: 26 Principles Every Architect Should Know (Rockport Publishers, 2014), a book she coauthored with Val Warke, has been translated into five languages. She received her bachelor of architecture from Cornell in 1979 and also attended Occidental College and l’École Spécial d’Architecture in Paris, France.

Sunil Bald

Sunil Bald

Associate Professor Adjunct, Yale School of Architecture

Sunil Bald is a founding partner, with Yolande Daniels, of the New York-base Studio SUMO and an Associate Professor at the Yale School of Architecture. Studio SUMO has been featured as one of Architectural Record’s Design Vanguard and the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices. In 2015 SUMO received the Annual Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His firm has also received a Young Architects award from the Architectural League, fellowships from NYFA and NYSCA, and was a finalist in the Museum of Modern Art’s Young Architects program. SUMO’s work, which ranges from installations to institutional buildings, has been exhibited in numerous venues including MoMA, the Venice Biennale, the National Building Museum, the Field Museum, the GA Gallery, and the Urban Center. Sunil also has an enduring research interest in modernism, popular culture, and nation-making in Brazil, for which he received fellowships from the Fulbright and Graham Foundations and published a series of articles. In 2011 he was selected by the graduating students to be awarded the Professor King-lui Wu Teaching Award at Yale. He has also taught at Cornell, Columbia, the University of Michigan, and Parsons School of Design. Sunil received a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an M.Arch. from Columbia University, where he was awarded the AIA medal and the Kinne Travel Prize on graduation.

Yasser Elshestawy

Yasser Elshestawy

Associate Professor, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain 

Curator, UAE Pavillion la Biennale di Venezia 2016

Yasser Elsheshtawy is Associate Professor of Architecture at the United Arab Emirates University, where he runs the Urban Research Lab. He has been appointed as curator for the UAE National Pavilion for the upcoming Venice Architecture Biennale 2016. Elsheshtawy’s scholarship focuses on urbanization in developing societies, informal urbanism, urban history and environment-behavior studies. He authored Dubai: Behind an Urban Spectacle (Routledge, 2010). Additionally he edited The Evolving Arab City (Routledge, 2008) which received the 2010 IPHS best book award, and Planning Middle Eastern Cities (Routledge, 2004). He has been invited to present his research at numerous international institutions such as Columbia University, Harvard Graduate School of Design, the ETH in Zurich, the Louvre Auditorium in Paris and the Canadian Center of Architecture in Montreal.

Aziza Chaouni

Aziza Chaouni

Associate Professor, Daniels School of Architecture Landscape and Design,

Founder Designing Ecological Tourism lab

:: Bio coming soon ::



Martina Margetts

Martina Margetts

Senior Tutor, Royal College of Art

:: Bio coming soon ::



Dr. Asma Siddiki

Dr. Asma Siddiki

Chief Executive Officer, Alpha1Education

Director, Oxbridge Summers at Oxford and Cambridge

Asma Siddiki is Chief Executive Officer of Alpha1Education and the Director of Oxbridge Summers, a summer school programme organized at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom. She is also an Education Management Consultant and has previously served as Director for Global Higher Education at the Huron Consulting Group. Prior positions include Associate Dean for Development and Director of Degree Programmes at the Dubai School of Government and Vice-Dean at Effat University. Siddiki is currently on the Executive Committee of the Saudi British Society based in London. She earned a DPhil from the University of Oxford in Cognitive Psychology, as well as an MSt in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology, also from Oxford.





Ife Oma :: Cape Town and New York 

As a built environment professional Ms. Ebo has harnessed her diverse capabilities in design, research and coordination to contribute to international projects in human settlement development, urban master planning, public facilities design and urban systems analysis. In her work she strives to cultivate strategies that promote social inclusivity and sustainability through a rigorous research based and collaborative approach. Ms. Ebo who earned an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a graduate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has worked in a number of countries including the United States, India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Nigeria. Her list of clients includes the World Bank, Cities Alliance and FIFA. Among her many associations Ms. Ebo serves on the Advisory Board for the Cornell Black Alumni Association and the Community Planning and Design Initiative Africa. She currently resides in New York City where she develops guiding principles towards the design of a more equitable, sustainable, resilient and healthy built environment for the New York City Department of Design and Construction.


Michael WachtMichael Wacht :: Los Angeles

Michael Wacht is the President of IntuArch, a Los Angeles based Architecture practice focusing on developing innovative geometries in response to research in programmatic, environmental, circulatory, and contextual analysis.  Michael’s bold views on designing performative architecture have been featured in publications such as ArchDaily and locally based engagements. IntuArch began as a freelance effort becoming Michael’s full-time commitment in 2014. Previously, as Director of the Los Angeles Studio of MADA s.p.a.m., Michael developed a focus on creating innovative and effective design strategies through his work with Qingyun Ma, Dean of the University of Southern California School of Architecture. Michael is now an Architectural critic at USC. Graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University in 2002, he spent several years in New York apprenticing at acclaimed B Five Studio, rising to Project Manager at Stephen B. Jacobs Group. His successful mixed-use projects include 325 Fifth Avenue and be@schermerhorn. Michael received a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design in 2009, after which he moved to Los Angeles to work for MADA s.p.a.m., managing the design of several Shanghai based projects, ranging in scale from public institutions to urban master plans. Michael has also worked as a Project Architect for JFAK Architects in L.A, for clients such as UC Santa Barbara, The Taubman Company, and Icon Venue Group (AEG).


Katayoun Lazar :: Dubai

Katayoun Lazar holds a Master’s degree in Architecture and Discourse from Cornell University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the American University of Sharjah. Her research focuses on topics in alternative building and rebuilding paradigms for urban renewal and transformation, in post-developmental and post-war cities. Her current project focuses on small scale urban regeneration proposals in Dubai and Tehran, under the title “In-Between Spaces”. Katayoun’s professional practice has equipped her with technical and global knowledge of the discipline. She began her career at Henning Larsen Architects in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she worked on all phases of design and a range of project types in several countries including Denmark, Norway, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Africa. She later worked on the design and construction of high-performing, college-preparatory public schools and social housing projects, in the Washington DC area, in collaboration with Studio Twenty Seven Architects. Katayoun joined  OMA, Office for Metropolitan Architecture, in Dubai following the completion of her Research Assistantship position at Cornell University in February 2016, where she contributed to the design and documentation of diverse cultural and program-specific projects in the region. She is currently Adjunct Instructor of Architecture at the American University in Dubai.





Niveen Sayeed :: San Francisco

Design Strategist. Cultural Futurist. Community Builder.

Niveen Sayeed is a design strategist currently living in San Francisco.  She started her journey as a lover of space and sculpture and moved on to get an architecture degree from University of Southern California.  While in Los Angeles, she was inspired by the freedom of experimentation in all aspects of art and design and fondly remembers it as a great playground for those formative years. After spending a few years practicing architecture in New York City and Boston, and with a deep concern with the humans inhabiting space, she moved back to California and got an MBA in Design Strategy from California College of the Arts.  This eased her venture into applying systems thinking and spatial experience creation skills into the virtual world, allowing more in depth focus on the human experience.  These days she is concerned with building empathy and resilience in the workplace as well as in Siloed communities.
Send a tweet to @nivliness


Rafael Portillo 1

Rafael Portillo :: London \ Kuwait

Rafael is an Architect holding a B’Arch degree from Cornell University and an M’Arch from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Originally from Los Angeles his studies and work have taken him to New York, London, San Francisco, and Rome. He is based in London but currently resides in Kuwait city where he is working for a multi disciplinary Architectural firm. He has worked for various International Architecture practices including Zaha Hadid Architects with key projects including Pierre Vives Herault Culture Centre in Montpellier, France, Chartres Parcs Des Exposition in Chartres, France, Neil Barett Flagship Shop, European Investment Bank in Luxembourg, and Next Gene 21-Symbiotic Villa in Ao-Di Taiwan. His interests and independent research include conceptual projects integrating music and architecture, music notation, cognitive design, responsive systems, and experimental materials.


Ali Lari :: Bahrain

Ali holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology and is currently a Development Manager for a Bahrain-based developer, Hassan Lari Group. Ali is an architect with experience in designing and managing projects of varying scales and in different parts of the world. In the Middle East, his most notable projects are the recently inaugurated Al Razi Hospital in Kuwait and the Kuwait Cancer Center. At SSH, a regional A/E firm, he managed teams for the design & delivery of housing, corporate and mater planning projects. His award winning design-build installation, Urban Decontrol, in Paris, France, explored the intersections of socio-political action within built form. Ali’s passion for architecture stems from a  greater desire for a better life, a better world and thus better built form based upon theories grounded in philosophy (human thought) & politics (human action). It is rooted in recognizing architecture is not a disconnected practice; rather an act of engagement with human beings.


Ayesha Sabri

Ayesha Zafar Sabri :: Milan

Ayesha Zafar Sabri is an Architect currently living in Milan, Italy. After graduating from Politecnico Di Milano with a Masters in Urban Interior Design, she worked for Migliore+Servetto Architects and developed an interest in ephemeral architecture and design. She founded and also runs a small personal and home accessories design company called Hip Flask, satiating her desire for graphics and illustrations. Pretty much everything in life amuses her. She lives with her husband and spends her days exploring the art and design scene in Italy.


Mariam Hussain :: London

designer by day .  illustrator by night . design voyeur . compulsive reader . sometime photographer . passion for fashion . moved by writing .

Design professional and entrepreneur, Mariam spends her days lusting after brilliant design, finding it often in effortless spaces, sartorial triumphs, striking packaging, beautiful shoes, and store identities. A communication design graduate, she is a strong believer in the power of design to create social change. Mariam has successfully launched and run a design hotshop-The Cherry Bowl- for 6 years, with clients such as DHL, Pizza Hut, Costa, Unilever, Oxfam and Marie Stopes. She is also the co-founder of Veranda at Five, a home accessories brand which aims to uplift traditional craft and pay homage to artisans in her home country Pakistan. A previous resident of Dubai, she currently lives in London with her husband and 2 boys. Here she manages the business, consults, designs for start ups, cooks up various new venture ideas and fights her sarcasm.


Lena Kim

Lena Kim :: Los Angeles

Lena Kim is an architect-turned-screenwriter who is a Los Angeles native, which is somewhat of an anomoly in a city of global transplants. She received her architectural training at Cornell University where she learned that chow mein was an entirely different noodle on the East Coast. Lena currently resides in Hollywood and is working on a new television pilot and a collection of personal essays.



Sonya Khan :: Atlanta 

Sonya Khan, an Alumni of Wellesley College and the University of Illinois, is an experienced architect with a passion for thoughtful design and personable spaces. Her nomadic nature fuels her love of travel and has led her to live in Boston, Chicago, Washington, Dubai, Karachi, Muscat, and Atlanta.


Ahmed Waheed Khan :: Abu Dhabi

Ahmed W Khan is a banker by profession while his passion has always been in photography. He has explored many aspects from conceptual photography to covering high profile fashion and private events, switching between an intimate to an urban scale.  His true love however lies in capturing nature and architecture. This passion has driven him to travel, capturing the awe and beauty of nature and the character and magnificence of  architecture around the world. Always with the aim of capturing a different angle and presenting a fresh perspective on the brilliance of experience and design.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in Articles are those of the authors and do not reflect ARCHITECTEM’s position on the subject matter.