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Prominent Iranian Architect Dies At 91

Ali Sardar Afkhami, the famous Iranian architect died

Iranian architect Amirali Sardar-Afkhami, designer of Tehran's City Theater Complex and Iran's new parliament building, has died in Paris. He was 91, and allegedly died of old age, reports said on Tuesday.

Other prominent works by Sardar-Afkhami include the design of the tomb of Sadegh Hedayat, an avant-garde Iranian author and novelist, in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Sardar-Afkhami designed the new parliament building in 1976, left Iran for France shortly afterward, and never returned.

According to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps-linked news agency, Fars, the legendary architect rejected the request of Iran's Ministry of Housing and Urban Development in the 1990s to build a new parliament building.

"Since I had earlier proposed the project, they invited me to return to Tehran and build the new parliament complex, but I did not accept the offer under the circumstances. At the time, I was living and working in France, and I was afraid to go to Iran and not be able to return whenever I wanted," Sardar-Afkhami later shared.

Since the downfall of Iran's pro-West king, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1979, many prominent Iranian architects have been forced to leave Iran and never returned.

Sardar-Afkhami, born in 1929 in Tehran, earned his Ph.D. in architecture in 1963 in Paris. After his return, he taught at the University of Tehran and soon established a private firm. He left Iran at a time when Islamic revolutionaries were preparing to overthrow the Shah and dominate Iran.

The legendary architect's masterpiece, Tehran's City Theater, is located on a 3,000 square meter site (about 0.75 acres) at the heart of the Iranian capital city. The complex was built with the initiative of Iran's last queen, Farah Pahlavi, a Paris-educated architect.

Tehran's City Theater contains several performance spaces, including the halls of Chaharsou, Qashqai and Sayeh, a performance studio, and the main gallery.