Alumnus Hani Ayad (MArch, 1984) of Cairo, Egypt returned to the University of Minnesota to give the College of Design commencement address and receive the University of Minnesota Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals on May 15, 2010.
Ayad exemplifies the global practitioner. Born in Egypt, he earned his bachelor of architecture degree from Cairo University in 1977. As a student, he interned in Cairo and in Milan, Italy, where his projects included a central hospital for Burundi, Africa, and a primary school in Rome. After graduation, working for Cairo architectural firms, he designed everything from restaurants and discos to residential spaces and high-rise office buildings, before coming to the United States for graduate study. After earning his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota in 1984 he worked with Minneapolis-based firms Kodet Architectural Group and Ellerbe Beckett, where his projects expanded to include housing, recreational, and healthcare facilities throughout Minnesota and the United States. In 1991, Ayad returned to Egypt and became one of the first team members of the Swiss Orascom Development Group, focusing on the development of integrated towns and tourist destinations in Egypt, the Middle East, and Central Europe.
Today, Ayad is senior vice president of design and destinations planning for Orascom where he has provided leadership for some of the largest and most important projects in the Middle East, including numerous tourist destinations and fully-fledged towns including El Gouna on the Red Sea; Taba Heights, overlooking the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt; Tala Bay, Jordan's first integrated resort and residential community; and The Cove, a destination that extends across 50 acres and features 185 exclusive residences on the Arabian Gulf in the United Arab Emirates.