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Ahmed Assem: Iconic Architect

Continuing their successive achievements in the past period and after accomplishing the achievement of finishing of Schneider Electric HQ renovation project in Cairo Egypt, which is the main HQ for the Middle East and North Africa branches, ICONIC Engineering Consultancy crowned this success by announcing unprecedented achievement, that the building gained LEED Gold Certificate using ID+C LEED Ver.4, and they successfully obtained the highest score of points in the evaluation of the certificate with a total of 70 points according to the fourth version and the second place in the highest buildings to get points in general in all versions since 1998 (LEED Certificate system issuance date). So, this makes it the first building in Egypt to get a gold certificate according to the fourth edition.

We met Ahmed Assem, the founder and CEO of ICONIC, with the impression that we will have a meeting with an engineer who focuses and specializes in smart and administrative buildings only— in addition to his special and deep understanding and application of sustainability and green buildings’ concept. However, all of our expectations changed in a few minutes, as in addition to the above, we found a very friendly person who expresses the exceptional mix between the talented architect and the very high qualified engineer who understands the deep details and needs of the projects and clients’ requirements. The interview with this man was a mix between a talented designer who expresses his vision and an experienced architect who shows his achievements and the steps of his professional career in an easy and entertaining way, in addition to his sense of humor.

Assem started his career in the field of design and consultancy services when he got his bachelor’s degree in architecture in 2001. He worked as an architect and designer in real estate development companies, then he moved to one of the well-known consultancy companies in Saudi Arabia to work there as an architect for 2 years, and he gained many awards, winning 1st and 2nd places in some competitions. However, he decided to return to Egypt and continue the journey there.

Upon his return to Egypt, he worked as an architectural department manager in one of the well-known real estate development companies, leading their design process for all their buildings in their residential compounds and projects. Then, he became the director of the engineering department in one of the largest internet companies, leading one of the most famous transformations in the market for the company by changing the design manual. Adding to the previous, he led the project of one of the largest call centers in Egypt at this time, comprising 1800 agents. Also, he had the opportunity to join one of the well-known designs & consulting firms in Egypt as the managing director in Egypt and the Middle East for about 2 years.

This previous brief summarizes how Assem got his deep experience in the field and how he built his understanding for each project’s stockholders’ vision, as he spent a few years working in many roles in the field in Egypt and the Middle East region, before starting his own project, ICONIC Engineering Consultancy between the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.

Based on his background and his vision of being updated by the latest design directions and management styles, Assem decided to start ICONIC on that base, which required considerable effort and perseverance as well as following the new and evolving styles in the world of design, only to present an integrated modern model featuring all possible engineering disciplines.

ICONIC started by the power of teamwork, which was evident in the submitted projects, from design and development to execution with high quality and accuracy using the latest technology and considering the great input of the cost control. Accordingly, the team achieved the successful business equation for all sides.

In our discussions and talks, Assem explained his special respect and passion for natural materials, especially wood and woolen fabrics that give a feeling of warmth… as well as marble. As for the manufactured materials, he highlighted that stainless steel and glass are preferred due to the nature of the projects achieved from ICONIC; and as for the colors’ usage, the mixing between black and gold is one of the color formations closest to his heart. That led to discuss one of the main ideas that draws ICONIC’s vision; that everything is beautiful in a way or another and has its special impact, and architects or engineers’ responsibility is to use this thing perfectly as we should drive inspiration from following the new in many fields, including fashion, graphic design, and more in addition to nature, architecture & engineering… and you can easily observe this in ICONIC designs

Assem believes that the presence of an architect’s imprint is an obligation in every project, but this imprint usually appears with the continuity of work and the trust built with the clients. This allows a designer to find access to his beloved lines and designs that express his vision. And with time, his designs’ tools will be evolved till he reaches a high degree of maturity, confidence, and compatibility with the rest of the design areas that affect his work.

By applying these thoughts and visions, ICONIC team was able to finish a group of distinguished projects in many fields, especially the administrative buildings for some well-known international companies as Schreiner Electric (that we’re providing its details below) and Vodafone.

Getting Deeper: How ICONIC Consultancy led Schneider Electric HQ to be the first LEED GOLD certified ID+C Building using LEED V4 in Egypt and Africa

Speaking with Eng. Ahmed Assem, he stated that the project has started in mid-2020 and continued till the end of 2021, as the project lasts for a year and a half, in addition to some supplementary works that will be finished by mid-2022.

It is worth mentioning that the building is the first Schneider Electric HQ in the Middle East and Africa to be able to obtain this accreditation which was achieved using the latest technology in all directions, in addition to the latest technology of Ecostuxture system manufactured by Schneider Electric.

ICONIC is the main architect, consultant, and project manager of the project, in addition to managing all the details of obtaining the LEED certificate. “Therefore, we are proud of the great success of the project, especially that the project faced many challenges starting from the client’s requirements that the renovation process and works should not hinder the company’s employees from performing their jobs in a normal manner— which led to the development of the project plan and project management style in coordination with Schneider Electric’s team— to the severe precautionary measures to face the coronavirus, which was applied to the highest level at the building,” Assem explained.

The total area of the building is about 9000 M2 divided into seven main floors, in addition to the basement as the building was developed to accommodate 700 employees, which is 70% better than the old design as the building was assigned for about 400 employees only, and the enhancements of all needed services, meeting rooms, video conference rooms, training rooms, etc., using the latest technologies of administrative buildings, which supported the expansion of the Schneider Electric’s investment in Egypt. The cost of the company’s investments to develop the building was nearly 200 million Egyptian pounds.

In another context, Eng. Tarek Fahmy, Real estate Management Director of Middle East & Africa at Schneider Electric, confirmed that the building has kept pace with the great development in Schneider Electric products by using the latest products of Ecostruxure system, which were used for the first time in the Middle East in this building, which supports the building being environmentally friendly. This was officially approved and documented by obtaining the LEED GOLD certificate.

This supports the company’s strategic objectives to be the leader in this area, as the most supportive company for sustainability and environmental preservation in the world in 2021, according to the annual “Corporate Knights” index of the 100 most sustainable companies in the world.

Eng. Tarek emphasized his appreciation for the great effort of the engineers and members of ICONIC Company, led by Eng. Ahmed Assem, and their follow-up of all stages of obtaining this certificate, which extended for a period of approximately one and a half years.

ICONIC Consultancy Company was able in a short period of time to be present in the field of design, integrating engineering consultancy, project management, and the completion of many distinguished projects with major companies and foreign investors in Egypt by providing distinguished services to ensure supporting their investment orientation and expansion, as a part of their team and a partner of their success stories. You can check these successful stories, achievements, and latest designs through their website www.iconic-eg.com


Conclusion

At the end of our interview, Assem highlighted that he believes that the journey is still long and he considers ICONIC as a starting business, regardless of the great achievements of the last period, and that they should continue working in all directions and cooperate with others to face the challenges in the field of design, contributing towards the development of industries, along with the quality of implementation and finding better and easier alternatives of implementation methods. And that is because industrial development is very important to motivate designers to achieve more flexible products, as he wishes to show the great potential of Egyptian designers' innovation, and enhance their intervention globally to focus on the creation of iconic influential design lines that represent a clear trend which will inspire the world by relying on our unique civilization and heritage.