PEER REVIEW Hadani Ditmars on the disappearing legacy of Rifat Chadirji, Iraq’s most influential architect.

PEER REVIEW Hadani Ditmars on the disappearing legacy of Rifat Chadirji, Iraq’s most influential architect.

  • Photograph Paul Taggart

Rifat Chadirji’s architecture was always an unconscious part of my Iraqi travelogues. As his homeland became a part of my inner and outer world over three decades of  documenting pre- and post-invasion culture and society, so did his buildings.

Back home in Vancouver, how could I conjure memories of Baghdad without visualizing his Central Post Office? The 1972 classic was looted and damaged after the ill-fated invasion in 2003, but still stands tall as a battle-scarred modernist relic. Or the phantom of his elegant Arch of Ctesiphon– inspired  Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Firdos Square, replaced in the early 1980s (as Chadirji photographed its demise) with a statue of Saddam—one that would become a symbol of the invasion when it was toppled by American soldiers. And how co...

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