Azra Dawood Joins as Hines College’s First Emerging Scholar

Emerging scholar assists in expanding the College’s history and theory curriculum

Azra Dawood, Ph.D.

This fall, the University of Houston Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design welcomes Azra Dawood, Ph.D., as its first visiting Emerging Scholar. The Emerging Scholar Fellowship gives promising historians the opportunity to develop substantial teaching and research agendas in design history and theory that will impact the College, as well as broader design fields. 

Hines College has a long history as a platform for critically understanding the built environment, and emerging scholars have often been central to that mission. The fellowship allows the College to continue this history by identifying new scholarly voices who will bring their critical interests to UH each year, using Houston as a laboratory to question the historical relationships between design and culture in ways that can engage our students and faculty. 

As the College has expanded and transformed its history and theory curriculum over the last two years, it became imperative to expand its faculty with young scholars who can inform this expansion by connecting the College with current areas of scholarship centered on the design disciplines. 

This year, Dr. Dawood will teach history and theory courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels, while pursuing her own research towards the production of a public lecture and potentially a future exhibition and/or research publication with the College. In the fall, she will develop our required graduate seminar in Modern Architecture and Urbanism. In the spring, she will teach the pilot version of a new undergraduate course in the History and Theory of Design Media, as well as a special topics seminar centered on her ongoing scholarly interests. 

Dr. Dawood’s work on the questions of internationalism, philanthropy, and religion in the built environment, particularly between the Islamic world and the U.S. in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is impressive.  The Hines College is thrilled she is bringing her perspective and research agendas to UH this year. 

Azra Dawood, Ph.D.

Visiting Emerging Scholar

Doctor of Philosophy, History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Master of Science in Architectural Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin

Azra Dawood is a historian of architecture and urbanism of the modern period. Her research on the built environment engages with themes of internationalism, philanthropy, and religion across the “Islamic world” and the United States. Azra recently completed her PhD at MIT’s History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art program and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture. Her dissertation was titled, “Building Protestant Modernism: John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the Architecture of an American Internationalism (1919-1939).” 

Her work has been presented at Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture and other venues. And her research has been supported by various grants, including the SOM Foundation's 2010 Travel/Research Fellowship for Architecture, Design and Urban Design.

Azra is currently pursuing two new research projects. The first investigates the architectural impact of a financial-intellectual relationship between an Istanbul-based Sufi Order and the New York-based Dia Art Foundation. The second probes the apparent retreat of the American empire globally, and the corresponding surge of China, as manifested in the changing architecture and infrastructure of Pakistan.

Before her graduate studies, Azra worked in architecture firms in New York City, Austin, and Karachi. She has previously taught at Bard College and Pratt Institute.