What Inspires You? | Galloway Discussion Series: Understanding Our Backgrounds and Inspirations
When growing up in Jijel, Algeria, near the warm, blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Hamid Khellaf was far more concerned about soccer games and swimming than the beautiful and historic architecture that surrounded him. But years later, as part of Galloway’s “What Inspires You” series, he fondly shares with his Galloway team the memories of his homeland and his journey as an architect. While the team enjoys authentic homemade Algerian pastries provided by Hamid’s wife, he scrolls through beautiful images of Algeria’s Moorish and French architecture and discusses how he now finds inspiration from his homeland.
“When you live there and you see it… when walking through the streets… you have the buildings, you have the stores. They can talk to you, honestly – that’s what I like about it. The proportions of the architecture and the use of different materials – of course all of this inspires you,” reflects Hamid.However, Hamid’s love of architecture didn’t happen overnight. His strong performance on the state-administered proficiency test enabled him to enroll in the University of Constantine in Constantine, Algeria. But he had hoped his classes would have a greater focus on math and physics, and he struggled to find enjoyment in his studies during the first two years.
At the end of the five-year French-based program, though, Hamid graduated with a strong, technically based architecture education. “They really taught us how to think and pay attention to the construction details.” says Hamid. Today, he brings this technical aptitude to all his projects, and he focuses on constructability even in the very early stages of the design process.
Hamid had never considered coming to the U.S., but his good grades in college made him eligible to continue his studies abroad on a state-sponsored scholarship. After initially studying English in New Jersey, he enrolled at the University of Colorado and received his master’s degree in architecture. Because of the Algerian civil war, he decided to stay in the U.S. and begin his career.
It was at this time that he discovered his true passion within architecture: the clients. “Being able to design for clients and meeting with the clients completely changed my feeling about the field of architecture. Now I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
Now married with three children, Hamid reflects on the challenges of a life in the U.S. Because of language and cultural barriers, “it is hard to communicate exactly what you mean,” says Hamid. He admits that his mannerisms from his homeland can still sometimes be misconstrued, but he hopes that forums such as this will promote better understanding of his cultural influences.
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