Handiss Spotlight - Kamyar Khozeimeh

Handiss Spotlight: Kamyar Khozeimeh – Architect & Founding Principal

Kamyar is an enthusiastic architect and urban designer with more than 15 years of experience in design, detailing, research and presentation in Canada and the Middle East. Before and after establishing Nira Architects in Toronto, he has been a key design team member in a number of acclaimed practices such as Hariri Pontarini Architects, CS&P Architects, Moriyama & Teshima and Urban Strategies. He is a registered architect in Canada and Iran, member of Toronto Society of Architects, LEED Accredited Professional, member of International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and Registered Construction Expert Witness in Tehran.

View Kamyar Khozeimeh’s Profile View Kamyar Khozeimeh’s Profile

Q: In 2010, you started a new journey in Canada after previously being a founding principal for an architectural firm in Tehran. Did you have to start over in Canada? And how did you work your way up the ladder?

A: While practicing in Tehran, I got very interested in the relationship of the built-form with its physical and cultural context. That was why I started another Master in Urban Design in University of Toronto as a good transition from practicing in the Middle East to North America, which gave me great insights on the design and submission processes as well as urban design principles and concerns both in city scale and in smaller scale of development. After graduation and before establishing Nira Architects in Toronto, I was a key design team member in a number of acclaimed practices such as Hariri Pontarini Architects, CS&P Architects, Moriyama & Teshima and Urban Strategies. The scope of my experience varies in scale (from interior design to city master planning) and in type (from institutional, cultural, justice facilities, commercial, adaptive reuse to 500,000 m2/95 storeys mixed use development).

Q: Was your non-Canadian experience taken into consideration when you first started working in Canada?

A: Not very much as many other immigrants with resume and portfolio on paper from another continent. I knew that I needed to show my skills in actual practice when I started working here. I should mention that Ontario Association of Architects accepted 1000 of my experience in Iran and I took the exam very soon after my 1st job in architecture in Canada.

Q: When you applied for the LEED GA certificate, was the study material relevant to your work experience and/or college studies? Or was it something totally new? And do you renew your designation every 2 years?

A: Yes, it was very relevant. I had recently graduated from the University of Toronto, and also some of my projects were LEED certified while I was working in Hariri Pontarini Architects. And yes, I renew my LEED GA every two years.

Q: What are some significant projects you have worked on?

A: I would say there is a number of significant projects that I’ve worked on. For example, there’s this project that consisted of a 500,000 m2 95-storey mixed use development which was very challenging and interesting. Another project was a 15-storey mixed use development in a very narrow lot in Midtown Toronto which was very challenging and exciting.

Q: What advice would you give freshly graduated / immigrant architects who are job hunting in Canada?

A: Have confidence in yourselves as architecture is architecture in all countries and centuries, but also make time and effort to fill any knowledge gaps because practice will differ between your country and Canada. Also don’t be shy or afraid to make cold calls to professionals in this field, as it is very common in a diverse country like Canada to help and welcome new comers since we have been through this journey before you, and so have at least two or three generations before us.

Q: What advice would you give to newcomers concerning salary expectations, work culture and cultural shock in Canada?

A: I would say don’t be concerned about salary at the beginning. The main thing is to get started and prove your skills. Also, work quickly on filling any gaps which may cause you a cultural shock. The other advice would be to study from reliable resources like OAA and learn the literature and terms of architecture in your home country prior to your arrival, as it will be much less costly and time consuming.

Handiss is where architects, engineers, and technologists connect for freelance and contract work. Sign up for free to get hired or to hire professionals from the AEC industry. 

You can view more Handiss Spotlight interviews on our blog.