GĪĀʾĪ, ḤAYDAR (Heydar Ghiaï-Chamlou; b. Tehran, 23 October 1922; d. Cap d’Antibe, 6 September 1985; Figure 1), an influential pioneer of modern architecture in Persia and professor at the University of Tehran. Ḡīāʾī studied architecture at the Faculty of Fine Arts (see FACULTIES ii) and then continued his studies at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris (1948-53). He returned to Persia in 1954 and began teaching at the Faculty of Fine Arts, training the new generation of Persian architects. His private commissions in and around Tehran included the German Embassy, Hotel Carlton, Hotel Hilton, Cinema Moulin Rouge, Cinema Radio City, the Tehran Pars Casino and Drive-In Theater, as well as a number of private homes and apartment buildings. Stylistically, his work was thoroughly “modern,” introducing aspects of the contemporary and International Style architecture of Europe and using new technology and materials such as aluminum.

Ḡīāʾī’s first government commission was the Senate building (Majles-e Senā) in Tehran (1954-59), a joint project with Moḥsen Forūḡī (q.v.), which brought them fame and remains their best-known work (Plate I). It has an imposing, freestanding marble-grid facade, embraced by two twenty-five-meter high bronze columns sculpted by André Bloc (1896-1966) in the shape of enlarged linked chains. The building was celebrated in the Pahlavi period on an 8-rial postage stamp of 1966 (Siebertz, p. 79; Abb. 71), issued together with a 6-rial stamp showing the gate of the adjoining Bahārestān garden (ibid., Abb. 70).  In the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the seat of the Islamic Assembly (Majles-e Šowrā-ye Eslāmi), the building has been depicted since 1985 on the reverse side of the 100-rial banknote (see, at the Central Bank website, http://www.cbi.ir/page/1976.aspx).

The Ministry of Water and Electricity building (1959), the Ministry of Agriculture (1970), the Palace of Fine Arts (1960), and Mašhad Hospital (1963) were other large government projects commissioned to him. The construction of three military hospitals in Lavīzān, Ahvāz, and Isfahan were underway on the eve of the revolution. In 1968, Ḡīāʾī was appointed the official architect of the imperial court and worked on the design of imperial palaces in Faraḥābād, but the project failed to receive the approval of the Plan and Budget Organization. Outside Persia, Ḡīāʾī and Forūḡī collaborated with Claude Parent and André Bloc to design the one hundred bedroom building for the Maison de l’Iran at the City University in Paris (1968). Built alongside a collection of modern buildings, the Persian Student Pavilion overlooks the campus with its four-story steel suspended units and structurally independent staircase.



J. I. Cohen, M. Eleb, and A. Martinelli, “The 20th Century Architecture and Urbanism: Paris,” A + U, 1990, pp. 146-51.

F. Ḡīāʾī, “Yād-ī az Ḥaydar Ḡīāʾī,” Rahāvard, no. 26, 1990, pp. 246-52, no. 27, 1991, pp. 233-40, no. 28, 1991, pp. 212-17, no. 29, 1992, pp. 196-204.

H. Giai (Ḡīāʾī), “Palais du Sénat, Téhéran,” Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, no. 78, 1958, pp. 96-101.

Idem, “Exposition et Hotel à Teheran,” Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, no. 84, 1959, pp. 16-17.

Idem, “Actualités: Palais des Arts à Téhéran” and “Cinéma en plein air a Téhéran,” Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, no. 93, Dec. 1960.

Idem, “Hopital Chah Reza à Meched, Iran,” Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, July 1965, pp. xxxiii-xxxiv.

F. Bemont, “Tehran Contemporain,” Honar wa meʿmārī/Art et Architecture (Tehran) 5, no. 17, 1973, pp. 85-88.

B. Oudin, Dictionnaire des Architectes, Paris, 1982, p. 187.

Roman Siebertz, Die Briefmarken Irans als Mittel der politischen Bildpropaganda, Wien, 2005.

H. Stierlin, Iran des Bâtisseurs, 2500 ans d’Architecture, Geneva, 1971, p. 102.

(Mina Marefat)

Originally Published: December 15, 2001

Last Updated: June 5, 2013

This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 6, pp. 591-592