The SGS blog, DOTS, is introducing a new anthology series of conversations with people in the office and in related design professions. We hope you enjoy.
Shohreh Moshiri has been with SGS for 4 months and joined as Senior Designer and is working on various multifamily projects in the office. Shohreh was gracious enough to spend time sharing about her hometown, Tehran, Iran and the differences of architecture between Nashville and Tehran.
Iranian architecture is dominated by color, especially turquoise, and expressive, detailed movements. The sun’s path and the shadows it casts also influence the architecture of this oasis city. And this place is no young soul – there is more than three thousand years of history and artifact and rich culture.
What is Tehran like?
It is more comparable to New York City or Washington D.C. than Nashville. That is to say, it’s much more walkable, there are street vendors, and it takes minimum an hour to travel anywhere. However, it’s not a high-rise city; there are certainly towers but not concentrated. “There is not as much regulation as there is in the United States” and so you may have instances where there is a five-story building neighboring an eighteen-story building. Furthermore, land is very expensive and the developments include high-end apartments, driving prices up.
There are two notable projects in Tehran: the Tabiat Bridge and the Borje Milad. The Tabiat Bridge was designed by the Diba Tensile Architecture in Tehran and is a graceful structural pedestrian bridge that connects two sides of Tehran. It is more than just a vessel to move people from one park to another and is described as a gathering place. It is two level with shaded platforms that includes restaurants, tree growth and green spaces, and stunning views of the mountains beyond.
The Milad Tower in Tehran is an iconic symbol in the city’s skyline. A dramatic spindly tower with a heavy mass and antenna top, it stands out dramatically in the mountainous landscape. Its primary purpose is to function as a telecommunications hub but serves residents and visitors as a destination. It incorporates tourist attractions such as a restaurant at the head that rotates slowly to provide a panoramic view of the city and an observation deck. One can find many exhibits, theaters, and retail options in the octagon base below.
Nashville could learn to be more walkable and adapt their culture to accept walking and transit as respectable methods of movement around the city. Tehran is a very safe city to stay out late and is not rowdy in nature; usually, stores will stay open late and encourage night walks. Tehran is filled with spaces like Hill Center in Green Hills, that straddles indoor and outdoor spaces but in even smaller and richly lush alley-ways.
An excellent example of transformative commuter thoroughfares is Tehran’s Valiasr Street or Pahlavi Street which is one of the longest streets in the Middle East that manages to be vibrant in commercial and cultural activity. Its most iconic for its draping trees over the busy avenue and the evolving frame it provides with the changing seasons.
What are some of your favorite spots in Tehran or even Iran?
Bam E Tehran is the best place to visit in Tehran; it’s the highest point in the city and a great view of everything below. After parking your car, one will walk up a bit to the overlook or enjoy one of the restaurants up there. The view at night is especially magical.
Darband is a neighborhood in Tehran that is very hilly and lush with great restaurant atmosphere and culture. It is a starting point for a popular hike and you can tell from the architecture that this area is dense and nests on the sides of the hills.
Outside of Tehran, some popular visits include Shiraz and Isfahan. These locations have more historic destinations and pilgrimage sites. They exemplify architecture and urbanism that balances indoor and outdoor qualities. Persepolis is particularly intriguing destination for its ancient ruins and immense history and the scale of building. It is astonishing the detail and capacity that ancient societies could construct.
What got you into design? And what have you learned from it?
“I was kind of interested in art and painting in high school but interested in technical aspects of things.” Art was not practical enough and structural professions were too technical. And architecture school was particularly entertaining for its creativity and freedom to design.
The phrase “When Life gives you Lemons, make Lemonade” is a constant reminder of how to treat life and maximize opportunity. Moving to the United States, Nashville specifically, was not as difficult of a journey as her parents have lived here in Nashville and friends as well. “I feel like once you are in a routine, there is not much chance to grow”, and Tehran was a comfortable and familiar routine.
She credits her growth to moving to the United States and evolving closer into who she’s meant to be. You grow by the way you respond to the obstacles you are handed. And we need to “focus on the journey, not the end result”. Usually, the journey provides greater growth than the accomplishment itself.
Movement to another country not only furthered her growth, but Shohreh motivates herself in design by maintaining a curiosity of the world around her. “Everything can inspire” your work, if you keep your mind going; and the fact that “anything can inspire you” makes our profession so great. In fact, staying afresh of new information and eager to learn will be a valuable asset to you now and in the future.
Just some great quotes to remember…
“You can find three things in an Iranian household: a handmade rug and a good pistachio & Saffron.”
“As you feed your body, you should also feed your mind.”
“Focus on the journey, not the end result.”