Selim Antoine Nahas
circa 1934
Selim Antoine Nahas
circa 1952
Antoine Nahas and son Selim Nahas
(author of this article)

{click any image to enlarge}
I wish to express my gratitude to all the people listed hereafter, without whom this article would have been impossible: Samir Raafat, Marise Helal, Esthere Nahmias, Claude Doumet Sarhal, Bobby Holstein and my three children namely: Kareen, Selim and Myrna Nahas.

First Communion of Selim Antoine Nahas
Antoine Selim Nahas was born in Cairo on August 27 1901. His father, Selim G. Nahas, owned a textile factory which he built in Cairo after living in Manchester England where a branch of the family had established. His mother, Assine Pharaon, was a descendant of an old predominantly Lebanese family. After Selim G. Nahas's death, the plant went to Antoine's younger brothers, Robert and Michel. Robert eventually sold the business to Robert Hosni, who proceeded to expand it.

Antoine Nahas was educated at Cairo's College des Freres (much later in his career he would build an extension of the same College in Daher). As a member of the Mission Scolaires Egyptienne in 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 while being a student. He graduated in June 1932. He is one of the rare individuals in the world to graduate from both of these prestigious French universities. It took him 13 years of uninterrupted presence in Paris to complete his studies.

Wedding of Selim Antoine Nahas & Gladys Shoucaire
Selim Antoine Nahas & Gladys Shoucaire
Nahas's first project was the design of Beirut's national museum, circa 1930, which he obtained by winning an international contest set by the Lebanese government. It was in Lebanon that he met Gladys Shoucair whom he married before moving to Cairo in 1934 where their son Selim A. Nahas was born.

Antoine Nahas
Dean of Architecture at Fouad (Cairo) University
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 of the Ministry of Education. He also obtained a professorship at Fouad (now Cairo) University's faculty of (Fonoun al-Gamila), Beaux Arts.
Founoun El Gamilia Team
circa 1935
During his tenure, he obtained the privilege from Paris Beaux Art for all Fonoun Al-Gamila's graduates to receive a diploma from the Paris Beaux Arts after spending only one extra year in Paris instead of the seven normally required. It was during his teaching career that he improved the curriculum of the Fonoun Al-Gamila. At the same time, he equipped the library of the university with remarkable books he hand selected from Paris, culminating into an extensive architectural library at the university of Fonoun Al-Gamila. Later, he traveled to Lebanon for the execution of several prestigious public and private projects.

Nahas lived in Egypt successively at
  • (i) Villa Sobhani on Dokhoulieh Street (where Sheraton Giza stands today)
  • (ii) Then, in a roof-flat at No. 3 Maspero street
  • (iii) And in a self-designed Dokki villa he inherited from his brother Michael.

Antoine Nahas
Dean of Architecture at Fouad (Cairo) University
Following the 1961 nationalization and sequestration laws, Nahas, at the instigation of textile magnate Francois Tager and a cousin, Raymond Homsy, relocated to Rome where he started an urban development project. The Italian venture ultimately failed due to a lack of funding. Two years later, Nahas relocated his practice in Beirut's Union Building in the Art et Metier district. He was subsequently appointed dean of Lebanon's Institut National des Beaux Arts.

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

Selim Antoine Nahas & his first grandchild, Kareen, in the summer of 1966
Nahas died in Beirut on 15 November 1966.

The difficulties which we have encountered trying to retrace Antoine Nahas's professional career 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.


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