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In Memoriam - Mahdieh Haji-Ghassemi


Photo provided by Fatemeh Kamrani

Ontario architect Mahdieh Haji-Ghassemi, and her two children, Arsam Niazi (11) and Arnica Niazi (8), were among the 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines plane shot down in Iran on January 8. 

Ghassemi worked at n ARCHITECTURE Inc. in Richmond Hill, and was part of a team that won a 2019 Brampton Urban Design Awards’ People’s Choice for a Tim Hortons project. In an interview with Global News, the practice’s principal, Nitin Malhotra called her a “super whiz” whose energy constantly cheered up the office. 

“She kept on taking on responsibilities and delivering and performing, so much so that by the time this accident happened she was my right-hand person in the office,” explained Malhotra. “She went through this rigorous internship program to get her licence. She was very driven, very committed, very bright—just a nice, warm individual. [She was] someone that I could trust, rely on, put her in front of my clients, as well as rely on her when she was away from my office that she could manage my staff.” 

Born in Iran in 1981, Mahdieh earned her master’s degree in 2004 from the Azad University of Tehran. After arriving in Canada, she secured her intern status in 2013 and passed the national Examination for Architects in Canada (ExAC) in 2016. She became an architect licensed in Ontario the following year, and was an active participant in education programs and social activities. 

Intern architect Fatemeh Kamrani was Mahdieh’s colleague four years ago; she reached out to the OAA to share some words about her friend. 

“She was smart, full of energy, and very supportive of everyone around her,” Kamrani said. “Five years ago, after giving birth to two beautiful children, she decided to pursue her career. She went through the OAA internship program while working hard and learning a lot and got her licence as an architect. She was a driven individual with an excellent work ethic—determined and self-motivated. One of those people that you know is going places.” 

The OAA joins Mahdieh’s family, especially her husband, Hamid Niazi, as well as friends, colleagues, and the architectural community across Ontario, in mourning her loss and the loss of her children.