Essam Hallak


Essam Hallak

Essam Hallak (Ph.D. McGill, 2010)

Assistant Professor

Tel: (514) 848-2424
Fax: (514) 848-2032


Education / Bio

Dr. Essam Hallak joined the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment in 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering from Aleppo University in Syria with two majors in architectural design and urban planning. He got his Masters of Architecture, Urban Design, and Housing from McGill University and received his Ph.D. in History and Theory of Architecture from McGill University in 2010. His is interested in the spatial production, meaning, and order across different geographies and cultures. This includes the study of conceptual, social, and material boundaries systems which form the determinate of urban morphology and spatial dynamics in human settlements. In this inclusive framework to urban studies he espouses an interdisciplinary and critical approach bridging fields such as architecture, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, and communication studies. He researches and works in areas of urban theory; preservation and revitalization of historic sites; ethics, theories, and practices of sustainable urbanism; community building; new urbanism; public policy; comparative urbanism; gender and the city; representation: liminality; and relational space.

Teaching 2010/11

Research Projects Underway


  • 2007-2012: In-between Boundaries: A New Meta-narrative of Space
  • 2009-2014: Language as Urban Memory: A Hermeneutics of Urban Culture in the Levant.
  • 2008-2015: Beyond the Public and the Private: The logic of the Excluded Middle.


  • Representation and the Ineffable: An epistemological Inquiry.
  • Ethics of Sustainability and Sustainable Ethics.
  • Inward-Looking (into) Architectural Form and Urban Culture.
  • Gender and the City: An Inquiry into the Architectural Forms and Urban Culture of the North American City.
  • Structuralist Reversion: Deleuze Inside the Box.
  • After Deconstruction: Questioning Derridian Metaphysics.
  • The Fuzzy Logic of Liminal Space: The Case for the Organic City.
  • The Emergence of Form: Embodiments of Urban Complexity.
  • The Fractal City: Morphological Investigation.
  • Dichotomy and Hierarchy: Beyond Post-Structuralism.

Dissertation and Thesis

  • Essam Hallak, Beyond Boundaries: A Philosophical Mapping of the Pre-Modern City of the Levant. Ph.D. dissertation, McGill University: Montreal 2010.
  • ______, Privacy in the homes of Shammy Community in Montréal. Master's Thesis. McGill University: Montreal, 2000.
  • ______, Revitalizing the Awniah District in the Historic Center of Aleppo City, Honours Thesis. Aleppo University, 1993.

Publications and Paper Presentations

  • The Middle East in Canada: Spatial Boundaries and Privacy Patterns." JUSUR Conference, University of California, Los Angeles, 2004.
  • La ville nouvelle de Mahelma, en Algérie. " EPAU. Réalisé dans le cadre de la coopération universitaire EPAU/Alger et Universität Stuttgart, Stuttgart: Germany. Dec.1995.
  • Recherche et projets. " EPAU. Numéro réalisé dans le cadre de la coopération universitaire EPAU, Univeristé de Stuttgart, Institut d`Urbanisme, GTZ. Oct. 1995.
  • Stadt und Land in Syrien." Karlsruher Städtebauliche Schriften. Universität Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe: Germany. Jan. 1994.

Grants and Awards

  • Fonds pour la Formation de Chercheurs et l'Aide à la Recherche (FCAR) scholarship of $20,000 (CDN), 2002.
  • McGill Major Scholarship of $10,000 (CDN), 2001.
  • School of Architecture Scholarship at McGill University of 500 (CDN), 2000.
  • Scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD.
  • Certificate of Merit" by the Syrian Association of Engineers for the project "Revitalizing the Awniah Area in the Historic Center of Aleppo City," 1993.
  • Certificate of Excellence for ranking among the top ten honour-roll graduates of the academic year 1992-1993 at the Faculty of Architectural Engineering, Aleppo University, Syria, 1993.

Relevant Practice and Academic Service

  • Teacher Assistant, McGill University (2005)
  • Instructor of Arabic Language at McGill University (2003-2009)
  • Chief Returning Officer, Post-Graduate Student Society, McGill University (2005-2006)
  • Ph.D. Senator, Post-Graduate Student Society, McGill University (2004--2005)
  • Architect, Atleier für Architektur, Stuttgart, Germany (1994-1996)
  • Research Assistant, Universität Stuttgart, Germany (1995)
  • Urban Planner, Ministry of Local Administration, Aleppo, Syria (1993-1994)
  • Architect, Private Architectural Practice, Aleppo, Syria (1994)
  • Instructor, School of Architecture, Aleppo University, Syria (1993)
  • Architect, Al-Markaz for Architecture and Urban Design, Aleppo, Syria (1992-1993)
  • Architectural Assistant, Bairuti Architects., Aleppo, Syria (1991)
  • Urban Planning Assistant, Aleppo City Council, Old City Department, Aleppo, Syria (1990-1992)

Professional Work (Selection)

Past works

  • Urban study and master plans for Mari' and Nubbul towns in northern Syria
  • Study and design of a public square for the "Project of Restoring the Old City of Aleppo
  • Research on the sprawl of industrial activities to the residential quarter of Agyor, Aleppo
  • Digital Library Project of vernacular architectural and urban design elements in Aleppo city
  • Apartment building design in the Bakr quarter of Aleppo and a villa in Kafr Hamra town, Syria

Current works

  • Master plan and design of a new town center for Rubouc Madh, Kosovo
  • Re-design and expansion of Yunus Turkish Community Center in North Montreal

Media and Interviews

  • Member of the Community Advisory Group of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
  • Frequent guest and commentator on cultural and architectural issues on CKUT Radio, Montreal.


  • Photography exhibition of 80 pictures of Aleppo city monuments at Acad Gallery, Aleppo, Syria.
  • The College of Fine Art painting exhibition at the National Museum, Aleppo, Syria (participant).
  • Photography exhibition of 42 pictures of Syrian cities at Goethe Institut, Staufen, Germany.
  • Photography exhibition of 35 pictures of the Old City of Aleppo, McGill University.

Further Academic Studies

  • Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart, Germany,1995.
  • Goethe Institut, Staufen, Germany, 1994.
  • Deutsches Informations- und Studienzentrum (DIS), Aleppo, Syria, 1993.
  • The College of Fine Art in Aleppo, Syria, 1988-1990.

Professional Affiliations

  • Syrian Order of Engineers, Architecture and Urban Planning Division
  • Middle Eastern Study Association
  • Canadian Historical Association
  • Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education
  • Environmental Studies Association of Canada


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