Reports to the President 1994-95
1994-95 was a contributive year in the rebuilding of the department and its
several programs-both in the events of the year and in planning for the future.
Notable accomplishments and problems will be reviewed here according to the
organization of our department in four discipline groups, and subsequently
under headings for other major issues.
Architectural Design is the core group of the department, having primary
responsibility for the professional Master of Architecture degree program as
well as both undergraduate and graduate studies in architecture.
We completed the second year under the new curriculum; consequently next year
all students will be under this curriculum except those completing their
theses. The curriculum has been carefully monitored and adjustments made both
in the courses included and their sequence and content. A fundamental course
in drawing replaces a visual arts course in the first term (with a visual arts
elective subject required later). The fundamental computation course in solid
modelling was shifted from the first year to the fall of the second year.
These two related moves were made to enhance the fundamental knowledge of
architecture and representation during the first year. Overall, the transition
to the new curriculum has been positive and smooth.
Generally, the levels of development, completion and presentation in
architectural design studios continued to increase. The studios of the first
term of the second year were devoted to the first stage of integrative building
design, incorporating technical instuctors and special attention to tectonic
issues. This will continue with enhancements in program and instructors this
year. Despite a higher average of performance and some outstanding studios,
there is a need for more top level, energetic, architecturally sophisticated
studios. We now address this issue, as do many schools, with greater use of
widely recognized visiting architects as studio professors.
Careful attention to thesis students and processes over the last two years has
resulted in better theses, better presented. We continue to experiment with
improved programs of review and exposition of theses at the end of the term.
Thanks to the new curriculum, as of this year all students will have taken the
fundamental subject in solid modelling. With this, we see increasing voluntary
use of computer graphics in studios and advanced studies in computational media
and programs. New Assistant Professor Julie Dorsey made immediate and
effective contributions at all levels of design and computation. The
incorporation of George Stiny as a senior professor in design research was
delayed by personal complexities which now appear to be nearing resolution. We
are moving toward a first-rate program in Design Inquiry and plan to recognize
it as a fifth discipline group in the department.
This two-year degree has long performed well as one of the nations few serious
advanced masters programs (many schools offer one-year programs frankly geared
to revenue enhancement). A review of the degree program this year led to
greater emphasis on two of our particular strengths: Architecture and
Urbanism, with a certificate program in Urban Design, and Design Inquiry.
Doctoral study was also introduced in the latter area.
At mid-year, Building Technology occupied its new offices and laboratories and
welcomed a new professor specializing in indoor air quality, Qinyang Chen.
Professor Dorsey brought her expertise in lighting and in computer
modelling of energy systems to the group. Associate Professor Les Norford is
effective in all areas of research, teaching and outreach to architecture
faculty and students. Nonetheless, fully successful integration of
technological expertise with the architectural design program continues as a
long recognized problem, here as elsewhere. A visiting professor position now
promises results and a tenure-track search is now reformulated.
HTC has been a leading program at both the masters and doctoral level from its
inception some twenty years ago until just recently. It hit its low this year
with the failure of its highly talented but procrastinating tenure-track
faculty to build their own positions or that of the program. A successful
search for an art historian resulted in the appointment of Michael Leja, a
distinguished mid-career Americanist with a solid research record and
credentials as an institution-builder. We also seek to complete plans for the
incorporation of a dynamic young architectural historian. Two other recent
appointees are thriving: Nasser Rabbat and Sibel Bozdogan. Rebuilding is
significantly underway, but will now take some time.
The challenging, internationally recognized artist, Krzysztof Wodiczko, joined
the faculty as a tenured associate professor at mid-year. The positive effect
of his appointment for the Visual Arts program was significantly deflected into
other areas by his appointment as Director of the renewed Center for Advanced
Visual Studies. CAVS has the potential to emerge as a vital extension of
Visual Arts, but its cost is what appears at present. The year ended with the
successful conclusion of a search for a distinguished artist in the Otto Piene
line-appointment of Dennis Adams as an associate professor without tenure will
be sought in the fall.
The department and the School put the issue of enhanced student aid at the
front of our Five-Year Plan and other advocacy with the Institute and with
donors. We are grateful for significant ad hoc assistance from the Institute
late in the year, and what promises to be further help in the regularized
student aid initiatives for this year. So far, we have been helped, but the
profound needs of our students, who are in fields with long degree programs and
low professional salaries, are still very real.
Thanks to the Institute, the first stage of renovation of our space surrounding
the dome of Building 7 gave us two suites of faculty offices (one not yet
available to us), two building technology laboratories, and several studios.
New department headquarters and ancillary spaces will be available shortly.
Planning for the next phase of
studio renovation is nearing completion. It is imperative that this next
studio development include a number of necessary ancillary facilities (general
shop, model shop, darkroom, drafting and model supply room) which should not
claim the generous loft spaces required for the studios themselves. We need
some space in the basement
if we are to operate efficiently and soundly without wasting valuable space on
the third and fourth floors of buildings 3, 5 7 and 10.
During the visit of H.H. the Aga Khan in May 1994, he called for the
formulation of a framework for AKPIA and a new budget recognizing greatly
reduced resources. The framework document and the budget are in the hands of
the central administration which also has the commitment of the Aga Khan for a
meeting in Paris. We urgently need action on this meeting, as we have
continued a small number of students, now at the financial risk of the
department. Worse than that one-time financial loss would be the loss of all
Aga Khan students from the professional programs of this department and the
marginal support of intermittent doctoral students. We now have the finest
group of (mainly endowed) professors in AKPIA (at MIT these are Attilio
Petruccioli, Nasser Rabbat, and Sibel Bozdogan, with significant support from
others) that the program has ever had; it is not just ironic, but deplorable
that this faculty should have so few dedicated students.
The collegial relations of AKPIA faculty and students at Harvard and MIT
continue to be excellent. There is, however, an issue in the current funding
crisis. The crisis centers on whether or not professional degree students will
be continued under AKPIA sponsorship-a type of education which had been
supported uniquely at MIT. Consequently the discussions of this past year
recognized the distinct financial need at MIT and also the greater
responsibility of MIT to resolve this problem with the Aga Khan. At the last
minute, and without the knowledge of the Head of the Department of Architecture
who also serves as the chair of the joint Harvard-MIT AKPIA Program Committee,
Harvard succeeded in inserting into the document transmitted to the Aga Khan
that any new funds must be divided equally between Harvard and MIT. This in no
way represents the division of funds where they have been lost (these were all
MIT funds). It furthermore instructs the donor that, if he wishes (as has been
his constant preference) to support professional education, he must pay for it
double. He would have to meet MIT's needs to continue professional education,
then give an equal amount to the academic doctoral program at Harvard. This
has the additional irony that the academic doctoral program at MIT would be
neglected when it is already less well supported than that at Harvard.
Negotiations in Paris should correct this late, undiscussed, and unfair change
in plans. Harvard's demand is also impertinent relative to the Aga Khan's right
to contribute new funds according to his own predilections.
Under requirements set by the Institute, we reorganized our departmental
administration with a decrease from five to four senior staff. This required a
complete reorganization of duties which has been difficult for the surviving
staff, but which they have borne well. Everyone, including the Head, is
heavily taxed with administrative duties; there is no possibility of further
cuts, and yet we are losing much of the time of our Administrative Officer to
re-engineering efforts. If I may be frank, I doubt that one can expect the
next head to manage as much of the department administration as is currently
the case. Then the staff may suffer a serious breakdown.
A total of 73 undergraduates and 124 graduate students (including 63 M.Arch.,
19 SMArchS/SM without specification, 8 SMBT, 11 PhD resident and 19 PhD
non-resident, and 4 non-degree special students) were counted in Course IV this
Department Awards: The William Everett Chamberlain Prize for graduating BSADs
for achievement in design (Rebecca Berry). The Sydney B. Karofsky 37 Prize for
the outstanding Master of Architecture student with one further year of study
(Lia Kiladis). The Francis Ward Chandler Prize for achievement in
architectural design (Erik Mar). The Alpha Rho Chi Medal for leadership,
service for the school and department, and promise of real professional merit
(Robert Reifess). The AIA Certificate of Merit for second-ranked master of
architecture student (Shaun Roth). The AIA Medal for the top-ranked master of
architecture student (Anthony Montalto). The SMArchS Prize (John Lewis, Ping
Hung Chang, Sean Scensor). The Imre Halasz Thesis Award (Erik Mar). The AIA
Foundation Scholarship nominees (Lia Kiladis, Gerdur Sigfusson, Deirdre
Terzian). The Caminos Memorial Fund Award for students concerned with third
world and first world issues (Alejandro Colom). Tucker-Voss Award nominees for
students showing particular promise in building construction (Mehmet Okutan,
Jimmy Su). Other student awards include Laya and Jerome Wiesner Student Art
Award (Lian Zhen); RTKL Travel Fellowshiip (Deirdre Terzian); Takenaka Summer
Internship (Richard Stump).
Nasser Rabbat and Ritsuko Taho were promoted to Associate Professor effective 1
Leon Groisser, Professor of Structures and for many years Executive Officer and
Undergraduate Officer of the department, will return for one additional
semester before retiring in December 1995.
Assistant Professor of Building Technology Qingyan Chen, a specialist in indoor
air quality, joined the faculty in January.
The Department welcomed Visiting Professor Dimitris Antonakakis, who taught a
Level II design studio in the fall. In the History, Theory, and Criticism
section, visitors included Professors Royston Landau (spring), Henry Millon
(fall), Akos Moravánszky (year), and Gwendolyn Wright (spring), as well
as Visiting Associate Professor John Rajchman. Dennis Adams was Visiting
Artist in the Visual Arts Program. Hasan-Uddin Khan was Visiting Associate
Professor. Visiting Lecturers in the department included Daniel Donovan,
Jeffrey Klug, David Joselit, and James Welling. Visiting Lecturers Paul
Donnelly, Joseph Iano, and Guy Nordenson provided technical support to
Several searches concluded during the year. Dennis Adams was recommended for
appointment as Associate Professor in Public Art, and Rita Myers was
recommended for appointment as Lecturer, teaching video. These two appointments
complete the faculty complement in the Visual Arts Program. Two searches were
conducted in the History, Theory and Criticism section, one for an
architectural historian and one for an art historian. The art historian
position will be filled by Associate Professor Michael Leja. While a candidate
was identified, the architectural historian position has not yet completed
administrative process. The Building Technology section has reformulated its
search and intends to fill the tenure-track position during the 95-96 academic
year. The senior design faculty search has not yet concluded. The design
faculty will be enhanced by appointments of distinguished visitors.
Students extended their learning and their abilities to contribute solutions to
design opportunities through work in Pakistan, China, Venice, Peru and Morocco.
As the department has accumulated experience in such international efforts, the
results have been increasingly beneficial to both the students and their hosts,
and the problems associated with students spending time away from MIT are being
The Architecture Lecture Series brought Gwendolyn Wright, Jan Pieper, Richard
Sennett, John James, Dimitris Antonakakis and Hana Cisar in the fall. In the
spring speakers included Beatriz Colomina, William Curtis, Ellen Dunham-Jones,
Norihiko Dan, Samuel Mockbee, and Francisco Barrionuevo. Antoine Predock gave
the ninth Arthur Schein Memorial Lecture and Michael Hopkins, RIBA gold
medalist, gave the Pietro Belluschi Lecture.
The department publication Thresholds, with a new format and focus, was
distributed to alumni as well as to the department. The weekly newsletter
PIN UP continues to build a loyal readership and features opinions and
articles, reviews of lectures and exhibits, calendar items, photos and
drawings, and doses of humor to enliven its pages. Admissions brochures were
Aga Khan Professor Attilio Petruccioli organized two two-day conferences with
international participation, both funded by The Aga Khan Program for Islamic
Architecture at Harvard and MIT: From Place to Type: Theory and Design of
Gardens during the Time of Great Muslim Empires and Typological Process and
Design Theory. Professor Stanford Anderson hosted a two-part seminar
celebrating the centenary of R. Buckminster Fuller with many of Fullers former
colleagues and students, including alumnus Datuk Lim Chong Keat, who initiated
the event. In addition, the department participated in a conference/workshop,
Making Great Places, which studied civic spaces and proposed design solutions
to Boston City Hall Plaza.
Faculty awards went to William L. Porter and his wife Lynn (Gordon Y. Billard
Award for service to the community as housemasters at Burton-Conner House);
Michael Dennis (Graduate Student Council Teaching Award); Leslie Norford
(3-year appointment as Thomas D. and Virginia Cabot Career Development
Professor); Leonard Morse-Fortier (nominated for Baker Award for Excellence in
Undergraduate Teaching); Andrew Scott (Class of 1960 Chair). Members of the
Visual Arts faculty exhibited work both here and abroad. Faculty with
published books this year include Stanford Anderson (translation of, and
introductory essay to Style-Architecture and Building-Art: Transformations
of Architecture in the Nineteenth Century and its Present Condition by
Hermann Muthesius [winner of an AIA National Book Award]); Attilio Petruccioli,
Il giardino islamico: Architettura, natura, paesaggio; Bill Hubbard,
Jr., A Theory for Practice: Architecture in Three Discourses; Nasser
Rabbat, The Citadel of Cairo, forthcoming; William Mitchell, City of
Bits, Digital Design Media (with Malcolm McCullough), and The
Reconfigured Eye. An earlier book by Petruccioli, Fathepur Sikri,
won the prestigious Japanese Iichiko Prize. In addition, faculty members
continue to be well represented in the respected journals of their fields with
articles reflecting their interests in research, theory and practice.
I would assess the past year as marked by steady progress on most fronts and
satisfaction that both the plans and the initiatives for the current year
promise still more.
Reports to the President 1994-95