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Mahyar Arefi

Title: Professor, PhD Coordinator
Office: 6106 Daa Addition
Tel: 513-556-0210

Mahyar Arefi received his PhD in planning from the University of Southern California. He also holds Masters degrees in urban design and architecture from Tehran University. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funded Dr. Arefi's doctoral dissertation. Prior to joining the UC School of Planning faculty, Dr. Arefi taught at Cal Poly Pomona, USC and Tehran University, and has received several research awards from the United States and the Middle East. Dr. Arefi has also practiced architecture and urban design for many years, and his research interests include urban design and community development. Dr. Arefi is the recipient of Goody Clancy's 2005 Summer Faculty Fellowship in Boston and Fulbright in Turkey where he explored the concept of placemaking in different contexts. ( The UN-HABITAT published Dr. Arefi's book "An Asset-based Approach to Community Development" in 2008. Dr. Arefi's recent publications on place and placemaking, community development and the notion of urban resiliency have appeared in Built Environment, Open House International and the Companion to Urban Design (Routledge, 2011).


  • PhD, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 1999 (Planning).

Research Information

Research Interests

Urban Design Community Development Place and Non-Place

Research Support

  • (Collaborator), Arefi, Mahyar; Edelman, David, Village of Morrow: Planning Study, Village of Morrow. (Studio Collaboration Agreement), $10,000.00. 01/01/2013 to 08/31/2013. Status: Active.


Peer-reviewed Publications

  • Mahyar Arefi (2013). The structure of visual difference: A comparative case study of Mariemont and Lebanon, Ohio. Urban Design International, 18 (4), 296.
  • Mahyar Arefi (2013). Towards a conceptual framework for urban management: The Iranian experience. City, Culture and Society, 4 (1), 37.
  • Arefi, Mahyar (2011). Rethinking the local knowledge approach to placemaking: Lessons from Turkey. Open House International, 36 (2), 97.
  • Arefi, Mahyar (2011). Order in informal settlements: A case study of Pinar, Istanbul. Built Environment, 37 (1), 42.
  • Mahyar Arefi (1999). Non-Place’ and ‘Placelessness’ as Narratives of Loss: Rethinking the Notion of ‘Place. Journal of Urban Design, 4, 175.
  • Mahyar Arefi and Menelaos Triantafillou (2005). Reflections on the Pedagogy of Place in Planning and Urban Design. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 25, 75.
  • Mahyar Arefi (2004). The Pedagogy of the American City: Revisiting the Concepts of place, Non-place and Placelessness. Urban Design International, 9, 103.
  • Mahyar Arefi (2004). An Asset-Based Approach to Policymaking: Revisiting the History of Urban Planning and Neighborhood Change in Cincinnati’s West End. Cities, 21, 491.
  • Mahyar Arefi (2004). Neighborhood Jump-Starting: Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative. Cityscape, 7, 5.

Invited Publications

  • Arefi, M., Deepika Andavarapu, & Albeniz Ezme (2014). (In Press). Kemal Ahmet Aru: The Triple Legacies.. The Turkish Chamber of Architects.

Published Books

  • Mahyar Arefi (2014). Deconstructing Placemaking: Needs, Opportunities, and Assets. London: Routledge.
  • Mahyar Arefi (2008). Asset-based Approaches to Community Development. UN-HABITAT.
  • Matturi Venkata, Arefi Mahyar (2014). The Elusive Dubai. Scholars' Press.

Book Chapters

  • Mahyar Arefi (2014). From Wicked Problems to Elusive Planning: Exploring Dubai’s Development Conundrum. In Silva, Elisabete, Patsy Healey, Neil Harris, and Pieter van den Broeck (Eds.), Research Methods in Spatial Planning: A Case-Based Guide to Research Design (pp.235-248). Routledge.
  • Mahyar Arefi (2011). Design for Resilient Cities: Reflections from an Urban Design Studio. In Banerjee and Loukaitou-Sideris (Eds.), Companion to Urban Design (pp.674-686). Routledge.
  • Mahyar Arefi (2003). The Pedagogy of the Fragmented City: Revisiting the Concepts of Place, Nonplace, and Placelessness. In Attilio Petruccioli, Michele Stella, and Giuseppe Strappa (Eds.), The Planned City? (pp.1084). Uniongrafica Corcelli Editrice.

Presentations & Lectures

Invited Presentations

  • Arefi, Mahyar (2012). Elusive Planning and Dubai Mimar Sinan University, Istanbul.
  • Arefi, Mahyar (2012). Kemal Ahmet Aru: Triple Legacies Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul.
  • Arefi, Mahyar (2014). A Panel on Placemaking KTH (The Royal Institute of Technology), Stockholm.
  • Arefi, Mahyar (2014). Urban management with an emphasis on placemaking Tehran City Council, Tehran, Iran.

Experience & Service

Work Experience

  • st/ 2/Augu to 2/01/June, Visiting Professor, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
  • 2009 to 2011, Associate Professor, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
  • 2006 to 2007, Fulbright Visiting Professor, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey.
  • 1999 to 2005, Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati.
  • 2005 to 2013, Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati.