Co-founder of NPAK and Chief Executive Officer
Edward Balassanian was born in Iran in 1936. He is an architect and city planner by training. Balassanian has graduated as an architect from the University of Tehran (1963), and later as a Master of City Planning (1968) and Doctor of Philosophy in City and Regional Planning (1975) from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. Balassanian is on the Roster of the International Experts of the United Nations.
In 1970 Balassanian founded Research and Planning Corp. architectural and planning consulting company in Iran, which in a very short period acquired status of one of the most authoritative research and consulting agencies particularly in the field of city and regional planning.
Since 1980 Balassanian relocated to the United States with his family and acquired U.S. citizenship. Since early 1980s Balassanian has devoted his professional life to serving the Armenian communities in the United States and Armenia. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Armenian Assembly of America, Washington DC, USA, (1992), Deputy Executive Director, and Director of Construction Department of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, in Yerevan, (1993 through 1995), Executive Director of Armenia Fund USA Inc, in New York, USA, (1996), and Executive Director of The Diocese of the Armenian Church of the Eastern United States (1997-1998).
Balassanian has been involved in the performing arts since childhood. In the late fifties and early sixties he has performed as professional actor in Iran in plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Prosper Mérimée, Lillian Hellman,John Boynton Priestly, and others. He has also recited Armenian poetry in Iran, the United States, and the United Kingdom at Armenian national and community functions
In 1995 Balassanian, together with his wife painter and poet Sonia Balassanian, co-founded the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art (ACCEA-NPAK in Armenian acronym) in Yerevan. ACCEA/NPAK is dedicated to promotion of the Armenian avant-garde art throughout the world, and facilitation of quest for new frontiers by Armenian artists.
Since 1995, by appointment of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia Balassanians have organized the Armenian Pavilions at the International Art Biennale of Venice through ACCEA/NPAK. The effort has continued until 2009, without interruption..
Since July of 1998 Edward Balassanian has relocated to Armenia. In mid September 1998, Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin I, of blessed memory, appointed him as the representative of Holy Mother See of Edjmiadzin, to manage the construction of Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral of Yerevan, with the assignment of completing it in 2001 for the occasion of 1700th anniversary of Armenia accepting Christianity as state religion. The target was met and the Cathedral was consecrated on September 23, 2001.
From June 2002 through February 2009 Balassanian has been assigned the duty of Acting Executive Director of Cafesjian Museum Foundation (through December 2008) and from January 2008, Director of Construction Management and Supervision Office of Gerard L. Cafesjian Museum of Art in Yerevan.
During the entire period of working in Armenia Balassanian has been managing the Armenian Center for contemporary Experimental Art on voluntary basis.