Melika Hajishafieiha, 34

Melika Hajishafieiha, 34

Senior designer at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Melika Hajishafieiha, 34
By November 30, 2023 6:18 PM

Since relocating from to New York City five years ago from Chicago, Melika Hajishafieiha has found herself on one of the bigger projects that Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has been tasked with recently.

The New York City Public Health Laboratory (PHL) in Harlem is set to become a top-notch life sciences facility for the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to respond to imminent health crises in the five boroughs when it’s completed in 2026. 

Hajishafieiha, who moved from Iran to Chicago eight years ago, happened to have been drawn to the design style and type of work SOM does in the health care and life sciences fields before going to work for the firm that designed 1 World Trade Center among many others in its nearly 90 years.

The new building for PHL will replace the agency’s current facility in Kips Bay and will be near the Harlem Hospital complex on 137th Street. Hajishafieiha and her teammates are designing it to fit in with the surroundings.

“We wanted to have this contextual volume at the bottom portion of the building so it blends seamlessly within the neighborhood, and we designed custom terra-cotta panels so that the color and texture go with the brownstone buildings in the area,” Hajishafieiha explained.

Hajishafieiha found SOM to be the right fit for her after being informed that it keeps the same designers on a project from the conceptual phase to the very end, which has helped her develop as an architect.

“I think working on PHL from the beginning to the construction phase has helped me to learn how to weave the design and technical aspects and improve my design sensibility about how we put together details,” Hajishafieiha said. 

Hajishafieiha said she is also passionate about SOM’s year one initiative program meant to get new hires out of college and smoothly transitioned from the classroom to a professional environment.

Before her time at SOM, Hajishafieiha earned a master’s at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her bachelor’s was in architecture at Azad University.

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