Ilia Yazdanpanah

Architectural Designer


Ilia is an architectural designer, recently graduated from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design in 2021, where he completed his second Master’s degree in Sustainable Architecture (MDes). Before starting at Harvard, he earned his first Master’s degree in Architecture (M.Arch II) at the University of Texas in 2019. Prior to joining PLA, Ilia had the experience of working closely with notable architects and designers including Norman Foster foundation at MIT Media Lab in 2020, and office Nadaaa in 2017. His background in both architecture and sustainability has made him an environmentally cautious designer who tries to leverage simulation technology to optimize the means and methods during the design process and to reconcile the discourse of architecture with the technicality of sustainability. His thesis proposal at Harvard GSD was curiously named “Toward a Resilient Architecture”, in which he tries to reclaim the issue of environment and optimization which is usually relegated to engineers. Ilia’s latest research titled “Rethinking Housing Design Rules of Thumb” has won the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Grant award in 2020 and the paper will be presented at the 36th PLEA conference in 2022 in Chile.


Fun Facts

Fun Facts/Hobbies: I love reading poems, and am addicted to music, coffee, and photography. I also love astronomy and observing the night sky with a telescope, I try to eat healthily, and I love the piano.

Do you have a favorite: musician, artist, or sports figure/team? Chopin, Leonard Cohen, Tom Jones, Celine Dion

What do you love about design? I think design is a coincidence of the will of a designer with circumstances that allow the will to have what it wishes under those circumstances. What I love about design is this coincidental relationship or certain kinds of intersections between particular things that we know to make buildings very exceptional. For example, to me, the intersection between technicality in environmental issues and the poetry or intuition in design thinking is what could produce that moment of coincidence, and this reciprocity between facts and fiction or real and surreal is what I love about design.

Something people don’t know about you: There are about 800 sonnets and poems (About 6000 ≈ 7000 verses) from different poets in classical period that I have memorized in mind which was done during my commuting and waiting times (Bus, subway, before meetings, lectures, etc…) over the past several years of my life.

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