Renowned Architect Gisue Hariri Celebrates Culture Through Composition

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By Lucy Wang
Born in Iran and educated at Cornell University, Gisue Hariri and her sister, Mojgan Hariri, have earned international acclaim for their progressive, Persian-inspired designs and spirited support of women in architecture.

After inviting us for a tour of her elegant Park Avenue loft in Manhattan, Gisue has joined as a judge in our first-ever Best of Design Awards. She brings with her over 30 years of experience as the cofounder and principle design director of the New York–based practice Hariri & Hariri Architecture, which has tackled projects beyond the built environment to include furniture, product design, and even jewelry.

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Gisue Hariri is one of our judges for the Best of Design 2018 Awards. Be sure to cast your vote—community voting is open from November 1-26.

Championing the view of design as a "holistic, boundary-less enterprise," Gisue and her sister, Mojgan, draw inspiration from their upbringing in Iran’s desert landscape, which taught them to "strip everything down to the essential" and adopt environmentally sustainable practices. 

Elements of Iran’s rich cultural heritage have also been hugely influential, from architecture, arts, and crafts to seminal Persian figures like polymath Omar Khayyam. Of particular interest to the sisters are geological formations and crystals, which have inspired many of their multifaceted, angular, and asymmetrical designs. 

In addition to creating a prolific and diverse body of work, Gisue has devoted decades to teaching and mentoring. She has served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University as well as a visiting critic at Cornell University, McGill University and Parsons School of Design. She is also an outspoken advocate for women in the male-dominated field of architecture.

Honored with numerous awards, including the 2015 American Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and inclusion in Surface Magazine’s 2014 DESIGN POWER-100 list, Gisue and Mojgan Hariri have developed a robust design reputation, proof of which can be seen in the projects below. 

Alvand Tower

Wrapped in an energy-efficient, double-skin facade of glass and composite aluminum panels, this 12-story office tower in Tehran features a pattern referencing the motif a mandala.

Wrapped in an energy-efficient, double-skin facade of glass and composite aluminum panels, this 12-story office tower in Tehran features a pattern referencing the motif a mandala.

The two skins are spaced approximately two a half feet apart, creating room for the installation of LED backlighting that illuminates the building like a beacon at night. The combination of blue lighting and the patterned facade are evocative of Persian blue mosaic work.

The two skins are spaced approximately two a half feet apart, creating room for the installation of LED backlighting that illuminates the building like a beacon at night. The combination of blue lighting and the patterned facade are evocative of Persian blue mosaic work.

Cape Cod Beach House 

Located on the far end of Provincetown, Massachusetts, the Beach House boasts 2,400 square feet of prime waterfront real estate within a sculptural, timber-clad volume inspired by the landscape.

Located on the far end of Provincetown, Massachusetts, the Beach House boasts 2,400 square feet of prime waterfront real estate within a sculptural, timber-clad volume inspired by the landscape.

Ipe wood envelopes the master bedroom that overlooks spectacular views of the beach through a wall of glass.

Ipe wood envelopes the master bedroom that overlooks spectacular views of the beach through a wall of glass.

Jewels of Salzburg

The strikingly angular and contemporary Jewels of Salzburg is a 400,000-square-foot development in Salzburg, Austria, that mimics the rock formations found in a quarry. Completed in 2014, the six new structures house 100 residences.

The strikingly angular and contemporary Jewels of Salzburg is a 400,000-square-foot development in Salzburg, Austria, that mimics the rock formations found in a quarry. Completed in 2014, the six new structures house 100 residences.

A narrow creek was carved into the edge of the rock wall to "extend nature into the site."

A narrow creek was carved into the edge of the rock wall to "extend nature into the site."

Architecture is not a service or an answer to a problem. Great architecture is about setting up a great problem. It is about the history and identity of a place. I don’t believe in one style and one size fits all.

—Gisue Hariri

Museum in the Sky 

This sumptuous and elegant 4,500-square-foot home is located on the 35th floor of a residential tower on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and is filled with art, an abundance of natural light, and views of the East River and city streets below.

This sumptuous and elegant 4,500-square-foot home is located on the 35th floor of a residential tower on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and is filled with art, an abundance of natural light, and views of the East River and city streets below.


Taghkanic Villa

Set on an idyllic 140 acres of land in Columbia County, New York, the Taghkanic Villa is a collection of buildings and spaces—including a main house, guest house, large shed for land maintenance equipment, vegetable garden, and a dipping pool—that offer modern takes on the traditional farm vernacular.

Set on an idyllic 140 acres of land in Columbia County, New York, the Taghkanic Villa is a collection of buildings and spaces—including a main house, guest house, large shed for land maintenance equipment, vegetable garden, and a dipping pool—that offer modern takes on the traditional farm vernacular.

Energy efficiency was a guiding design principle behind the project. The house is powered by 13 large solar panels as well as deep geothermal wells. All the mechanical systems can be monitored and controlled remotely.

Energy efficiency was a guiding design principle behind the project. The house is powered by 13 large solar panels as well as deep geothermal wells. All the mechanical systems can be monitored and controlled remotely.