Mohammad al-Asad is a Jordanian architect and architectural historian. He is the founding director of the Center for the Study of the Built Environment in Amman. Dr. al-Asad studied architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and history of architecture at Harvard University, before taking post-doctoral research positions at Harvard and at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
He has taught at the University of Jordan, Princeton University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was Alan K. and Leonarda Laing Distinguished Visiting Professor. He was also an adjunct professor at Carleton University in Ottawa.
Dr. al-Asad has published in both Arabic and English on the architecture of the Islamic world, in books and academic and professional journals. He is the author of Old Houses of Jordan: Amman 1920-1950 (1997) and Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism in the Middle East (2012); and co-author, with Ghazi Bisheh and Fawzi Zayadine, of The Umayyads: The Rise of Islamic Art (2000) and, with Sahel Al Hiyari and Álvaro Siza, of Sahel Al Hiyari Projects (2005). He has also edited the proceedings of three Aga Khan Award for Architecture seminars: Shaping Cities: Emerging Models of Planning Practices (2016), Workplaces: The Transformation of Places of Production: Industrialization and the Built Environment in the Islamic World (2010) and (co-edited with Majd Musa) Architectural Journalism and Criticism: Global Perspectives (2007).
Dr. al-Asad has been a member of the board of directors of the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, part of the Royal Society for Fine Arts. He served as a project reviewer for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture during the 1989, 1995, 1998, 2004 and 2007 Award cycles, and was a member of the Steering Committee in 2010, 2013 and 2016.
Al-Asad, Mohammad, editor. Workplaces: The Transformation of Places of Production: Industrialization and the Built Environment in the Islamic World. Istanbul: Bilgi University Press, 2010.
A large part of the world’s population, including increasing numbers of people in the Muslim world, spend a majority of their time in places of production, such as factories, workshops, and industrial facilities. In most cases, industrial facilities are built with only economic performance in mind; the welfare of those who work in these buildings has not been a major a concern.
One of the numerous themes that the seminar, which was entitled “Workplaces: The Transformation of Places of Production,” explored, was the rapidly-changing nature of many industries and their modes of production. The old sheds that contained traditional production lines are becoming obsolete, and at the same time, the overwhelming growth of cities in many Muslim countries has meant that what were peripheral industrial sites are now located within dense urban areas. The transformation of these sites to accommodate new urban realities has become a major challenge for authorities. Many old industrial spaces were considered liabilities for their surroundings, but, with imaginative programming, some of them have been transformed into assets that support a healthy urban life. Also, while older industrial facilities are being reconfigured to accommodate new functions.