Calendar of Events

Fri 05.04.2012

The National Mosque of Baghdad Competition: A Conversation Between Denise Scott Brown, Renata Holod and Frederic Schwartz

AIA CES: 1.5 LUs

When: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM FRIDAY, MAY 4

Where: At The Center   

Although it was the capital of the caliphate between the eighth and thirteenth centuries, the great mosque of Baghdad did not survive, like those of Damascus, Aleppo, or Jerusalem. The contest for a national mosque reflected Saddam Hussein’s desire to curry favor with conservative sectors of the population. In 1982, the municipal office of Baghdad, Amanat Al-Assima (AAA), advised by the architect Rifat Chadirji, and the presidential department of architecture, organized a restricted invitation-only competition. They established an initial list of twenty-two international architecture studios, which was then narrowed to seven, only one of which was a United States firm: Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown.

The guidelines outlined a program for a grand congregational or Friday mosque capable of holding 15,000, and later 30,000 calling for a program including a school, a library, guesthouses, an administrative center, meeting rooms and a large cafeteria. Ultimately, Saddam Hussein would hold four competitions for a national mosque, which remained unrealized at his death.

Although Venturi, Rauch and Brown’s monumental design for the National Mosque of Baghdad was never built, it was influential for its hypostyle plan that appeared for the first time in Iraq, and has since appeared throughout the Muslim world. Denise Scott Brown will revisit the design strategy for the National Mosque in conversation with Renata Holod, a consultant on the project, and Frederic Schwartz, FAIA, former Director of the New York office of Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown.

Denise Scott Brown, Principal, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates
Renata Holod, Ph.D., Professor, Islamic Art and Architecture, University of Pennsylvania
Frederic Schwartz, FAIA, Principal, Frederic Schwartz Architects

$10 for AIA members and students; $20 non-members

Organized by the Center for Architecture.

A program of the exhibitions Change: Architecture and Engineering in the Middle East, 2000-Present and City of Mirages: Baghdad, 1952-1982 on view at the Center for Architecture.

The presentation of these exhibitions at the Center for Architecture is made possible through the generous support of the following sponsors:


Lead Sponsor:

Eytan Kaufman Design and Development

Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Dewan Architects & Engineers
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates
NAGA Architects
Ramla Benaissa Architects
RBSD Architects
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
World Monuments Fund


Opening Reception
Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 6-9pm

Change in the Middle East: Preserving the Past, Inventing the Future
Saturday, February 25, 2012, 11am-5pm

LIVE FEED: Middle East Collaborations 2005-2012
Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 6-8pm

Culture and Climate: Contemporary Architectural Responses in the Middle East
Thursday, March 1, 2012, 6-8pm

Guided Exhibition Tour @theCenter
Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 6-7:30pm

Iraqi Culture Pre- and Post- Invasion: From Secular to Sectarian
Thursday, March 15, 2012, 6-8pm

Building ANew: Noor Theatre Presents A Reading of Short Plays by Award-Winning Middle Eastern Playwrights
Friday, March 16, 2012, 7pm

Faster and Bigger: Building in the Middle East
Monday, April 2, 2012, 6-8pm

FamilyDay@theCenter: New Architecture in the Middle East
Saturday, April 14, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM or 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Architecture in Baghdad, Then and Now
Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 6-8pm

Guided Exhibition Tour of CHANGE and City of Mirages
Friday, May 4, 2012, 12-1pm

The National Mosque of Baghdad Competition: A Conversation Between Denise Scott Brown, Renata Holod and Frederic Schwartz
Friday, May 4, 2012, 6-8pm

Practice in the Middle East
Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 8-9:30am

Fridays throughout the exhibition duration starting at 6:30pm
February 24, 2012: About Baghdad (2004) - Q&A with Iraqi poet and writer Sinan Antoon and Pedro Azara, curator of Baghdad, 1952-1982
March 2, 2012: Nice Bombs (2006)
March 9, 2012: Son of Babylon (2010)
March 23, 2012: Daily Baghdad (2004)
April 13, 2012: 16 Hours in Baghdad (2004) - Q&A with Iraqi actor Abbas Noori Abbood

Exploring the Built Environment: Architecture in the Middle East
Free Gallery Program for School Groups (Grades K-12)
Available select Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from March - May 2012


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