Antoine Selim Nahas



Antoine Selim Nahas. Photo c. 1952

Antoine Selim Nahas is an Egyptian architect who is the most prolific architect of his generation, Antoine Selim Nahas was born in Cairo on 27 August 1901. His father, Selim Nahas, owned a textile factory which he later passed on to Antoine's younger brother Robert before the latter sold it to Robert Hosni who proceeded to expand it.

Nahas was educated at Cairo's College des Freres (much later in his career he would build the extant College in Daher). Later, as a member of the Mission Scolaires Egyptienne en France he, joined l'Ecole Centrale des Art et Manufactures in Paris graduating in July 1925. Subsequently he enrolled in l'Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts where he taught after graduating in June 1930.

Nahas's first ever project was the design of Beirut's national museum circa 1930. It was in Lebanon that he met Gladys Shoucair whom he married before moving to Cairo in 1934 where their son Selim was born.

In Cairo, Nahas established his practice at No. 13 Cherif Street (10th floor) and later at No. 19 Kasr al-Nil Street (4th floor). Aside from his private practice, Nahas was Chief Architect for the Ministry of Education. He also obtained a professorship at Fouad (now Cairo) University's faculty of (Fonoun al-Gamila--Beaux Arts. During his tenure he obtained the privilege for FG graduates to receive a diploma from the Beaux Arts in Paris after spending one year there. It was during his teaching career that he traveled to Lebanon for the execution of several prestigious public and private projects 


Doss Building, intersection of Soliman Pasha St & Fouad Avenue, 1930's

Nahas lived successively at Villa Sobhani on Dokhoulieh Street, where Sheraton Giza stands today), then in a roof-flat at No. 3 Rue Maspero, and in a self-designed Dokki villa he inherited from his brother Michael.

Following the 1961 nationalization and sequestration laws, Nahas, at the instigation of textile magnate Francois Tager and a cousin, Raymond Homsy, relocated in Rome where he started an urban development project The Italian venture ultimately failed for lack of sufficient funds. Two years later, Nahas relocated his practice in Beirut's Union Bldg in the Art et Metier district. He was subsequently appointed dean of Lebanon's Institut National des Beaux Arts

Nahas's last architectural achievement was the design of an extension for Beirut's National Museum, the same museum where he started his prolific career three decades earlier.

Nahas died in Beirut on 15 November 1966. 

According to his son Mr Selim Nahas, there have been difficulties trying to retrace Antoine Nahas's professional career which were compounded by several factors:

His two major offices namely the one based in Cairo at 19 Kasr El Nil street as well as the one in Beirut in Union National building in Sanayegh and his last apartment in Rome were all three looted. Thus losing all his archives as well as his book collection on classical architecture.

He was a very shy low key individual who avoided propaganda or any sort of advertisement throughout his life time. He, unfortunately, never wrote a memoir. 


Selim Antoine Nahas, c. 1934


Antoine Nahas and son Selim Nahas


First Communion of Selim Antoine Nahas, 1912


Selim Antoine Nahas & Gladys Shoucaire


Wedding of Selim Antoine Nahas & Gladys Shoucaire


Founoun El Gamila (Beaux Arts) Team, c. 1935


Selim Antoine Nahas & his first grandchild, Kareen, in the summer of 1966 ( the last summer)

Some of his works (Cairo and Giza):

  • Abdelhamid Bey Kazrouni Bldg, Azhar Street. Tthis was Nahas's first building after graduation
  • Aziza Abdelmalek Bldg, Midan Sheraton, Giza
  • Air India Bldg (ex-Soussa Bldg), corner of Tahrir St and Soliman Pasha's Al-Chams Bldg, Kasr al-Dubara
  • Al-Chams Bldg, Mubtadayan
  • Aziz Abdel-Malek Hanna Bldg, Midan Sheraton, Giza
  • Aziz Bahari Bldg I & II, Midan al-Tahrir
  • Aziz Bahari Bldg, Midan Moustafa Kamel ex-Suares
  • Badrawi Bldg, Bab al-Louk
  • Belair Bldg
  • Bissada Bldg (1951)
  • Borg al-Giza (Abou al-Fotouh) Bldg, Nile Street, Giza
  • Choucha Bldg, Fouad Avenue
  • College Des Freres, Daher
  • Doss Bldg (1935), Soliman Pasha/Fouad Avenue
  • Farid al-Atrash Bldg, Nile Street, Giza
  • Francois Tager Bldg, Corniche al-Nil, Kasr al-Dubara
  • Inji Zadeh Bldg (1938), Ramses Street
  • LEBON Bldg, Gabalaya Street, Zamalek
  • Leon Chaldjian Bldg, Bloc A & B, Soliman Pasha & Baehler Streets (with participation of L. Nafilyan)
  • Mirshak Bldg, Giza
  • Mirshak Villa, Nile Street, Giza
  • Mitry Bldgs, 14 & 16 Nabatat Street, Garden City
  • Naus-Eid Bldg (1938), Kasr al-Nil Street
  • Nitocrise Bldg
  • Paul Lifschitz Villa, Midan Mosseri, Maadi
  • Protestant Church (behind Mogamaa), Kasr al-Dubara
  • Sabet Bldg, Garden City
  • Shooting Club, Dokki
  • Shoucair Bldg, No. 13 Cherif Street
  • Taleb Bldg, Fouad Avenue
  • Tawil Bldg
  • Wahba-Choucha Bldg, Cherif Pasha Street opposite Ex-al-Ahram
  • Bldg facing Wakf Institution also known as Emaret al-Lewa
  • Al-Mukawlun Al Arab Bldg on Adly Street

Outside Cairo:

  • Mahalla al-Kobra Factories

Lebanon:

  • Albert Pharaon Villa, Alley
  • Farid Shoucair Villa, Aley, 1935
  • Francis Kettaneh Villa, Aley
  • Jordan Bank, Rue Picot, Beirut
  • Lebanese Parliament, possibly in collaboration with architect Mardiros Altounian, executed by Elias al-Murr
  • National Museum, Beirut. Co-architect Pierre Leprince Ringuet. The museum features on Lebanese currency
  • Sami Shoucair Bank (never executed)
  • Sehnaoui Bldg and bank, Kantari Street, Beirut

Associates and employee at Antoine S. Nahas practice between 1944 -1956


Esther Nahmias, c. 1954

  • Eugene Nuzzo (Italian) (Chief Architect)
  • Guy Marcinhes (Swiss) draftsman)
  • Kamal Hajjar
  • Shafik Hosni
  • Michel Takla
  • Samir Matar
  • Mrs. Esther Nahmias (Chief Administrator)

Some of the contractors who executed major projects:

  • Baron Rolin
  • Simplex (Freres Hettena)
  • Al Shark ( Freres Vidon)
  • Hassan Aboul Fetouh
  • Guirgossian

 Office Employee in Beirut: 

  • Cherif Nassif (architect/designer)
 
Eugenio Nuzzo held the chief architect position in Mr. Nahas’ office during the second half of the forties and the fifties. During WW2 Nuzzo, an Italian national, was interned by the British at Al-Fayed concentration camp in the Ismailia district. Nuzzo left Egypt in 1960 for Italy. He re-met Antoine S. Nahas in Rome where they discussed a new venture, which did not take off unfortunately. During the sixties and seventies, Nuzzo participated in several projects in Italy and other European countries. Ultimately, he became chief architect of the Exhibition grounds in Via Cristoforo Colombo in Rome (Fiera di Roma). He died in Rome, Italy in March 1982.



Architect Eugenio Nuzzo

Sources: Samir Raafat, Selim Antoine Nahas (New York), al-Emara Magazine, Linda Baladi (Paris), Talaat Badrawi (Cairo), Frank Nuzzo, Italy