Raised in the historic city of Isfahan, Mohammad Gharipour received
his Ph.D. in Architectural Theory and History from Georgia Institute of
Technology in 2008 and Masters of Architecture from the University of Tehran in
2000. He teaches architecture at Morgan State University and is the Director and Founding Editor of the International Journal of Islamic Architecture. His
areas of research include Japanese traditional and contemporary architecture,
Persianate gardens and architecture, and restorative environments. He is the
recipient of Spiro Kostof fellowship award from the Society of Architectural
Historians (SAH) in 2008 and the author of several publications including Persian Gardens and Pavilions: Reflections in
Poetry, Arts and History(I.B. Tauris, 2013). in 2014, Dr. Gharipour was presented with the National Endowment for Humanities Faculty Award for his research on Synagogues of Isfahan, Iran.
Handel, Dan and Alona Nitzan-Shiftan. "Industrial Complexes, Foreign Expertise and the Imagining of a New Levant." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 4, Number 2 (pp. 343-364), edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2015.
In the 1980s, Israeli industrialist Stef Wertheimer proposed transforming the eastern Mediterranean into a transnational economic bloc that would overcome territorial conflicts through shared prosperity. This vision grew out of his extensive correspondence during the 1970s with local and international experts. In a grand scheme he called the ‘New Levant’, multiple ‘industrial gardens’ – industrial enclaves for entrepreneurial development – would accommodate technological incubators in a sachlich (matter-of-fact) architectural environment. Several examples of the industrial garden model have been built in and around Israel. This article argues that the ‘New Levant’ scheme on the one hand echoed a contemporary geopolitical divide between oil and non-oil producing countries, and, on the other, a moment of proto-globalization of national economies in the region. The article further aligns this vision of a Levantine network with scholarly depictions of the historic Levant – a territory in which extraterritorial capitulation, pragmatism and foreign expertise facilitated transnational economic exchange. Furthermore, it is suggested that the architecture of the industrial gardens spatially articulates economic processes. The economy-driven architecture and planning of the ‘New Levant’ thus became an efficient vehicle for negotiating national and cultural boundaries. As such, it allows for a critical reading of the region’s globalization and emerging identities.
Keywords: American expertise; Israel; Levant; economy; industrial gardens; planning