Mitra Nehorai is an architect based in Los Angeles, California. Since working for R. Duell & Associates in 1984, Mitra’s work has spanned design,construction and management of award winning institutional, commercial and residential projects in both the private and public sectors. As a leader in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP), her emphasis is on institutional facilities, promoting the role of high performance “green” environments as a child’s “third teacher,” one which supports the educational goals, promotes student learning and integration with the surrounding environment. Currently Mitra works at Parsons as senior project manager, positioned within Los Angeles Unified School District, Asset Management Division, planning and developing facilities improvement projects. Her passion for student learning and growth carries over to her service to the community. Mitra has served as a Member of the Board of Directors at The Growing Place Preschool and Bridges Charter Elementary School. She has curated a number of multi-media art exhibits for non-profit fundraisers, showcasing up and coming young artists’ work to the community. On a more personal level, Mitra enjoys photography, furniture design and fabrication. Recipient of a bronze medal of photography from UNESCO, her work has been recognized and exhibited internationally.
I had a chance to interview Mitra recently:
1) When did you move to the United States?
My family and I moved in 1980 from Iran to Los Angeles (Santa Monica).
2) What is your education and background?
I went to Santa Monica high school. After graduation, I enrolled at UCLA for a year for general studies and then transferred to the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC) and got my Bachelor of Architecture. It’s a five year specialized architecture program.
3) How did you become interested in the field of architecture?
I have always been fascinated with design as well as the impact that space can have on one’s psyche. My fascination started with our home in Iran. I also loved going to different expos with my family and experiencing different spaces. That has led me to architecture. I’ve been working in this field since 12th grade.
4) Which of your designs are you most proud of?
It’s difficult to say; each project is like a child. When I first started working it was for an architectural firm specializing in theme parks–including the Spruce Goose Dome and Six Flags theme parks across the United States. But I have to say that I really like single family residential homes and educational facilities where I can make an impact. Schools are were I have the opportunity to help children and their growth through the built environment .
5) How do you manage your time between your family and career?
It’s with a lot of support from my family, especially my parents and my sister who are always there for me as well as my friends. My children are my inspiration.
6) What advice do you have for young people especially aspiring architects?
Like any other field, architecture requires a lot of patience, love, hard work and dedication. Moreover, building and maintaining relationships are very important. Architecture is about collaboration. Hundreds and hundreds of people help develop a project from its inception.