Loaei Thabet developed his love of architecture during his childhood in Yemen. “I grew up realizing my father’s passion for architecture. He was into architecture, but he was not able to finish his degree,” he says. “I knew he wanted me to be an architect. The support from family made a big difference.”
A Fulbright scholarship brought Loaei to the United States to study. “That was a turning point in my life,” he says. “Fulbright is a brand for life. I am always connected to my Fulbright network, and I’m always involved in new projects, new ideas.”
He completed his first master’s degree at Ball State University in architecture, then practiced in Brooklyn and Yemen for a few years before returning to Ball State to get a second master’s degree in urban design.
In Yemen, Loaei worked as both a practitioner and educator, helping transform buildings to meet international requirements. In Brooklyn, he focused on redesigning city blocks and buildings for energy efficiency. “In a green city block, every building will serve the other buildings around it,” he explains.
This background in urban design allows him to approach each new project with a broad perspective. “Whenever I work on any project, I have the two caps on my head,” he says. “I design a building that serves its primary purpose, but I also consider how this building will affect its neighbors.”
Even when he’s not working, Loaei can’t stop thinking about architecture. He spends his free time exploring the world around him and sketching urban landscapes. “When I am eating or relaxing at home, I watch building and architecture documentaries,” he says. “It’s a passion. It’s like a disease, too.”