MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture

The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA), established in 1979, functions jointly at MIT and Harvard University to promote research and teaching concerning architecture and urbanism in countries with Islamic societies. Generous gifts from His Highness the Aga Khan support the AKPIA through endowed funds that provide for faculty, student financial aid, library facilities, and research; annually received current funding also supports teaching and student financial aid, in addition to publications and outreach activities. The central office, located at MIT, serves as a liaison for activities at both universities; coordinates joint, program-wide activities; and maintains an exchange of fiscal and substantive information between the program and the donor.

During the 1994-95 academic year, the central office continued its communications and outreach work for the program. Internal communication between and among students, faculty, staff, and the Harvard and MIT communities functioned through the AKPIA monthly calendar, which alerted the community of program activities, staff travel, program meetings, and special events. A lecture series at MIT was organized each semester by Aga Khan Professor Attilio Petruccioli. The fall series consisted of five speakers: Jan Pieper ,Technische Hochschule, Aachen, Germany; Mahvash Alemi, University of Rome; Ivor Samuels, Joint Centre for Urban Design at Oxford Brooke University; Abdullah Hanna, Damascus and Aleppo Universities; and Heinz Gaube, Orientalisches Seminar der Universität Tübingen, Germany. The spring semester lecture series was titled "Casbah and Medina: Islamic Towns of the Mediterranean," and the speakers were: Amir Pasic, Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture, Istanbul; Susan Miller, Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University; Serge Santelli, School of Architecture at Paris-Belleville; André Raymond, University of Provence, Aix-en-Provence; and Maurice Cerasi, University of Genoa. Other lectures were given by AKP Visiting Scholar Shakeel Hossain, Moroccan architect Mohamed Fawzi Zniber, Algerian architect Latifa Chouider, and Enrico Genovesi of the University of Rome.

Two international conferences were organized by Aga Khan Professor Attilio Petruccioli, sponsored by the AKPIA, and held at MIT. The fall conference, "From Place to Type: Theory and Design of Gardens During the Time of Great Muslim Empires," brought together experts in the field such as Jim Wescoat, University of Colorado; Mirka Benes, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; Robert D. McChesney, New York University; Maria Eva Subtelny, University of Toronto; John Dixon Hunt, University of Pennsylvania; Mahvash Alemi; Ebba Koch, University of Vienna; D. Fairchild Ruggles and Claudia Lazzaro, Cornell University; and Aga Khan Professor Gülru Necipoglu, Harvard University. The spring conference, "Typological Process and Design Theory," presented Serge Santelli; Giuseppe Strappa, the University of Bari, Italy; Karl Kropf, University of Birmingham; Anne Vernez Moudon, University of Washington; Maurice Cerasi; Francesco Giovanetti, Municipality of Rome; and Giancarlo Cataldi, University of Florence. Professor Petruccioli presented at both conferences.

The central office was pivotal in planning, preparing, and fundraising for the "Mostar 2004" workshop that was held in Istanbul from 25 July to 25 August. The workshop was conceived by Dr. Amir Pasic, 1994 AKP Visiting Scholar. The purpose of the workshop was to prepare an urban restoration plan and methodology of approach for the first stage of restoration of Mostar's Old Town through the participation and assistance of an international, multicultural group of students and professionals working together. Professors Bozdogan and Petruccioli participated in the international seminar that took place at IRCICA and Yildiz University.


The AKPIA Committee, charged with policy decisions, included Stanford Anderson, head, Department of Architecture, MIT (chair); William A. Graham, director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard; Philip S. Khoury, dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, MIT; William Mitchell, dean, School of Architecture and Planning, MIT; Gülru Necipoglu, Aga Khan Professor, Harvard; Attilio Petruccioli, Aga Khan Professor and AKPIA acting director, MIT; William L. Porter, Leventhal Professor of Architecture and Planning, MIT; Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Development Professor, History, Theory and Criticism Program in the Department of Architecture, MIT; András Riedlmayer, Aga Khan Program Bibliographer, Harvard; Merrill Smith, Associate Rotch Librarian, MIT; Irene Winter, chair, Department of Fine Arts, Harvard; and Christoph Wolff, dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard.

In September, Barbro Ek, AKPIA director for over six years, left to become Associate Director of the Program in Islamic Legal Studies at the Harvard Law School. Aga Khan Professor Attilio Petruccioli, who had joined the MIT architecture faculty in February of 1994, was named acting director of the Program. Due to a reduction in Program funding, Denise Heintze, administrative officer for five years, and support staff Deborah Kreuze left the Program. Renée Caso, administrative assistant, and Robert Marlatt, part-time senior office assistant, remained to assist the new acting director with Program administration and professorial support.

Margaret Sevcenko, AKPIA publications coordinator and staff member of the Program since its inception in 1979, retired in June. Ms. Sevcenko was largely responsible for the high quality of all the AKPIA publications, including the eleven published volumes of Muqarnas.

Assistant Professor Sibel Bozdogan was on leave spending part of the year in Turkey doing research and part of the year in Massachusetts writing a new book. She also co-edited the manuscript that was a product of the AKPIA-sponsored 1994 conference "Rethinking the Project of Modernity in Turkey."

In May, Professor Petruccioli traveled to Japan to receive the prestigious Iichiko Prize for cultural study established by Editions Iichiko to foster advanced and interdisciplinary research in the field of cultural and social science. His book Fathpur Sikri was chosen as the 1995 prize winner.


Concentration in Architectural Studies of the Islamic Worldcomponent of the SMArchS program
In 1994-95, three new AKPIA students participated in the Concentration in Architectural Studies of the Islamic World component of the Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS) degree program. With four continuing students, the unit accommodated seven SMArchS students. Tuition and living expenses for the seven SMArchS student at MIT were funded in whole or in part by AKPIA current funds.

Student reflection and debate focused on both practical and theoretical issues concerning the architecture characteristic of non-western societies. Students were encouraged to compare traditional Islamic architectural forms and structures with those developed after the spread and application of Western ideas in modern times. They considered appropriate responses to climate, building materials, and building technology as well as the socio-cultural attitudes and values that directly relate inhabitants to their environment.

Students participated in a level III architectural design studio on Islamic societies led by Professor Petruccioli as well as a course on architecture in urban contexts entitled "Traditions, Conflict, and Change." Professors Petruccioli and Goethert Reinhard offered a studio, "Mapping Cities through Typologies: Essaouira, Morocco." The studio included two weeks of field research in Essaouira and concluded with a two-day roundtable discussion co-sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University and an exhibition from which a student publication was produced. Professor Petruccioli also taught "Special Problems in Non-Western Architecture: Learning from the Urban Fabric," a course that introduced students to the method and theory of typological processes.

History, Theory and Criticism Program (HTC)
Of the five AKPIA doctoral students in the HTC program, Maha Yahya and Kishwar Rizvi were in residence in Cambridge; Shirine Hamadeh was in Istanbul preparing dissertation research; Iffet Orbay was in Quebec, writing her dissertation; and Richard Brotherton continued work on his dissertation while based in New York. Tuition and living expenses for the two Cambridge resident doctoral students at MIT were funded in whole or in part by the AKPIA endowed scholarship fund.

Assistant Professor in the History of Islamic Architecture Nasser Rabbat offered "Religious Architecture and Islamic Cultures" and "The Making of the Discourse on Islamic Architecture" in the fall. The first was offered as a HASS course and the second as an Architecture and Culture methods class. In the spring, he offered "The Architecture of Cairo," also a HASS course, and "Issues in Islamic Urbanism." During the year, Professor Rabbat put the final touches on his book, "The Citadel of Cairo: A New Interpretation of Royal Mamluk Architecture," which is to be published by E. J. Brill in Leiden, Netherlands in the fall of 1995.


During 1994-95, the AKPIA hosted three visiting scholars. Maurice Cerasi, professor of architectural design at the Faculty of Architecture of Genoa, utilized his three month appointment during the spring doing research on language, culture, and typological concepts in the genesis of housing types in the Ottoman regions with comparison to western Slav, Syrian and Caucasian neighbors. Professor Cerasi also participated in the spring lecture series and conference organized by the AKPIA. Charles Hafez Chehab, associate professor and coordinator of the art history program at the State University of New York, College at Brockport, has been a visiting scholar with the Program since 1991 and completed his term in December 1994. During his final semester, he completed an article on the "Lion of Baibars" at `Akkar al `Atiqa (North Lebanon). Shakeel Hossain, a 1988 DIS alumnus, continued his work on his Ta'zia project, presenting a lecture and exhibition at MIT in February titled "Beliefs, Rituals, Art, and Architecture of Popular Islam: Muharram in India."


Specialized acquisitions and services at the Rotch Architecture Library continued to be provided through endowed funds. In November, Ahmed Annabal began as the new AKPIA archivist at the Rotch Visual Collections (RVC). Dr. Annabal was assistant cataloguer of Arabic materials at the Middle East Technical Services Unit of the Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania, for six years and brought to MIT a wealth of education and experience, including a Masters and PhD in Architecture and fluency in Arabic, Italian, and French. Dr. Annabal assumed the responsibilities of assisting students and faculty with the AKPIA collections at the RVC. The AKPIA's videodisc system, Images of Islamic Architecture, continued to be a valuable resource to students, faculty, and staff. Omar Khalidi, reference librarian for the AKPIA at the Rotch Library, continues to assist students and faculty with the AKPIA book collection.

The AKP librarians at Harvard and MIT worked together to formulate a resource packet, complete with guidelines, for setting up an academic collection on Islamic architecture. Originally formulated to assist building the collections at the parallel centers in Jordan and Karachi, the packet should be of use to all architectural libraries in the Muslim world.

The Program's major publication is an annual volume of essays on art and architectural history entitled Muqarnas, published by E. J. Brill in Leiden. This year, Publications Coordinator Margaret Sevcenko saw to completion Muqarnas 11 and completed editing the manuscripts of Muqarnas 12 and 13.

Renée A. Caso

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95