Baha Sadreddin is a ZGF Associate who is known around our Portland office for seeking balance. Growing up in Shiraz, Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, he understands what it means to run out of resources. Yet he picked architecture for the impact he could have. After studying at the University of Oregon and completing a Master of Energy and Environments at Harvard, Baha is now a high-performance design specialist focused on data-driven optimization.
Baha took time this winter to chat about his newly formed tea habit, the importance of seeking out different perspectives, and the imaginary job that’s most likely to get him fired.
When did you realize you wanted to work in architecture/interior design? In Iran where I grew up, my dad worked for a nonprofit that developed houses for people with disabilities. I used to play in his office. I remember crumpling his plans because I liked the feel of vellum. When I got older, I stopped destroying his plans and I started drawing myself.
How does living in Portland inspire you? Portland offers balance. Not just work/life equilibrium, but everything. Most of my family now lives in Portland within a few minutes’ drive, I have access to the beautiful outdoors, and I get to live and work in a place that is vibrant and alive.
Coffee or tea? Tea. Though tea is part of the Irani culture, ironically, I never drank tea when I lived there. But I switched to tea in 2015 and never looked back.
If you could design for a fictional character, who would it be? He isn’t fictional, but I pick architect Le Corbusier. We recently developed a concrete tool that allows designers to optimize their mix design for a reduced carbon footprint. Trying to design a house for Corbusier would be an interesting struggle. I know he’d want to explore texture and form with concrete, and I’d be convincing him to optimize his concrete designs. I’d probably get fired.
Favorite tool of the trade? Grasshopper. It is a tool that lets you create new tools and it doesn’t limit you.
What was the last podcast you listened to? I’m going to sound like a geek. I listen to “The Building Science Podcast” daily. It’s hosted by a mechanical engineer who complains that architects only care about aesthetics, rather than efficiency or environmental impact. I think we do care, but I also learn a lot from his point of view.
Do you have any hobbies outside of the office? I love photography and traveling. I’ve always thought they were complimentary hobbies because traveling gives you this broad perspective of the world in-action, while photography lets you zoom in to capture the small bits of what people are experiencing.
What is the best advice you have ever received? I remember randomly seeing this quote on a day when I was angry at someone. It said, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” It reminds me that we’re all human and have our own struggles.