Nadir Ansari

Nadir Ansari was born in Amman, Jordan and immigrated to Chatham, Ontario, Canada at age 2, bringing his parents along.
In 1984, he earned a Bachelor of Engineering Science (Civil) and in 1987 he completed his Masters of Engineering Science (Structural), both from the University of Western Ontario (UWO).
Nadir is the CEO of Isherwood Engineering. Isherwood has been on the design team for Toronto landmarks such as the CN Tower, the Skydome (Rogers Centre), the Canadian Opera Company, the Sheppard Subway and plays a role in most significant excavations in Ontario and has completed work in Mexico, the Caribbean, across Canada and the US.
Nadir has always enjoyed the small business world both at Isherwood and its sister company Monir, which is involved in monitoring performance of designed installations.

Nadir first became involved in the Grand House during construction when his company solved the foundation challenges with a novel application of Micropile Foundations and later when the student co-op closed and he and his wife Laura purchased and renovated the Grand House to re-open as the student residence it is today.
Nadir enjoys real estate development, automotive art collection, culinary exploration, mental math, chess, reading and family travel. Recently Nadir and family took a year to travel to 24 countries.
Favourite Quote: Can we do it? Yes we can!?

Meet the Team

The team may be small but we are powerful, if you can’t find who or what you are looking for here feel free to Contact Us!


Tiara Aponte

House Manager

Born in Puerto Rico in 1985, Tiara has a Bachelors in Environmental Design from the University of Puerto Rico. For a semester she studied abroad in the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City where she met her now husband Gustavo. She lived in a house with other international students where she learned how to live cooperatively and benefitted from the enriching experiences that are only possible when living with so many different people. Tiara also travelled to different Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala and Dominican Republic representing her country and university.

Tiara has a Masters in Architecture from the University of Waterloo where she lived at Grand House to later become the manager for the co-op. Once finished her degree she worked in Mexico City and in Dallas, Texas before Nadir offered her a position to come back to Canada and work for Isherwood and manage the newly re-introduced Grand House.

When not working at Grand House or Isherwood, Tiara enjoys traveling back home to Puerto Rico to re-connect with family and friends.


Gustavo Velasco

House Creative

Gustavo was born in Mexico City. He holds a professional degree in Architecture from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) where he worked 8 years as an Adjunct Professor for Design Studio and Graphic Representation classes for Second Year Students. He has served as a guest critic at the School of Architecture of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. He has also facilitated private Sketch and Watercolor workshops to the public since 2010.

Gustavo did his Professional Practice Semester at the Grand House where he made a Landscape Proposal. Since then he has worked in various creative projects for Grand House including the design of the fence, watercolor for the re-inauguration invitation of Grand House, and graphic design for our social media.

When he is not working, you will find him with a sketchbook and a pencil sketching his ideas.


Tammany Atkinson

House Support

Tammany has been an entrepreneur for past two decades. She has created products that have been featured on national programs such as The Today Show, The View, ET and Marilyn Dennis. For the past 5 years she has assisted Nadir Ansari with The Grand House and his other entrepreneurial ventures. The Grand House team and their passion to support the students at the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture is a community she enjoys being involved with.



House Maintenance


Chantal Cornu

Designer & Founder

Chantal has an abiding interest in sustainable design and community development, and her work has recently focused on different forms of social housing. She holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Waterloo and also studied in Stuttgart and Rome. Her well-rounded understanding of the building process encompasses advanced technologies as well as conventional construction practices. Working with ecological and natural material builders in Ontario has further diversified her practical construction experience. Chantal has held various architectural positions in offices in Montreal, New York, Toronto and Berlin. She has also taught several courses through University of Waterloo, served as a guest critic at the Université de Montréal, and facilitated lectures and workshops for the public. The Grand House Student Co-operative was a project realized in collaboration with fellow students and the larger Cambridge community in an effort to provide affordable housing. The project also strove to provide an example of sustainable living, both in construction method and in the form of collective housing.