A man named Nader Khalili died March 5, a death reported in Wednesday’s L.A. Times. A funeral took place Tuesday at Pomona College before burial at Claremont’s Oak Park Cemetery.
I had met Khalili a time or two and he made an impression.
He was an Iranian-born architect who had a spread in Hesperia where he and some students from the Southern California Institute of Architecture tried to garner interest in “super adobe” structures. These were made of plastic bags filled with dirt and held together with barbed wire. He thought the dome-shaped houses could provide simple, cheap housing for the world’s poor.
He also built fired-clay ceramic houses that resembled oversized bowls and vases in their texture and ornamentation. His Cal-Earth Institute has details on its website.
I met him in the mid-’90s when I was a reporter at the Daily Press in Victorville. Lots of reporters made the trek to Hesperia and found Khalili a visionary, even if his designs haven’t been widely adopted here, due to earthquake codes and people’s preferences. He was mentioned on my blog in a post about Laura Huxley’s death.
Khalili, a warm, personable man, had studied Persian literature and poetry at the University of Tehran and continued to find inspiration in them. He translated two volumes of Rumi’s poetry.
When we parted, he pressed upon me a copy of his autobiography, “Racing Alone.” I’ve since culled it from my bookshelves, which I regret, but the inscription, a wise line from Rumi, is burned into my brain:
“Seek not water, but thirst.”