Nader Khalili

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.”

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  • Now I see how to tell professional journalists from amateurs such as myself.

    When I get rid of good books, I say that I have “trashed” them.

    In your case, you have “culled” them.

    I need a better vocabulary. 🙂

    [Every time I write I wish for a better vocabulary, so you’re not alone. Besides, I hate to think of books as trashed, especially when I’ve traded them in at a used bookstore or donated them to a library. — DA]

  • Chris Moran
  • Byron Lee

    It is with real shock that I read this blog posting about the death of Nader Khalili. I met him several years ago at Cal Earth while writing a freelance magazine article. His sincere warmth and hospitality struck me as truly genuine.

    Khalili’s work and ideas left an impression, and going back for a spiritual recharge was something I always wanted to do, but kept putting off.

    Khalili also gave me a signed copy of his book, which I have read several times. It opened my eyes to a side of Persian culture, not often seen in America. I still have it.

    Khalili was a true man of peace, vision and spirit, and brought the same to a piece of the IE.

    [Well said. Thanks for the post, Byron. — DA]