MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


During the 1995-96 academic year, the School of Architecture and Planning continued to build and renew its faculty, to improve its core facilities, to develop new computer and digital telecommunication capabilities, and to sponsor new ventures in research and teaching.


Faculty development and renewal remains a top priority. During 1995-96 there were important faculty appointments in all units of the school.

In the Department of Architecture Ann Pendleton-Jullian and Sibel Bozdogan were promoted to Associate Professor and Leslie Norford was granted tenure. Dennis Adams, previously a visiting artist, and Mark Jarzombek, a Visiting Associate Professor in the History of Architecture, were both appointed Associate Professor with tenure. A leader in advanced studies in design theory, George Stiny joined the faculty this year. Art historian Michael Leja, an Eldredge Prize winner for his recent book, Reframing Abstract Expressionism, has also joined the faculty this year.

In Media Arts and Sciences Assistant Professor Aaron Bobick has been named the LG Career Development Professor of Media Arts and Sciences. Neil Gershenfeld, Kenneth B. Haase, Jr., and Mitchell Resnick have been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences. Associate Professor Resnick has also been named the Fukutake Career Development Professor of Research in Education. Hiroshi Ishii, whose primary research interest is the creation and development of collaborative workspaces that merge video and graphics technologies, joined the faculty as an Associate Professor of Media Arts & Sciences. Professors Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert retired during this academic year, however, both continue a half-time affiliation with the Media Lab and its academic programs.

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning lost three faculty to retirement this year. Professors Ralph Gakenheimer, and Gary Marx as well as Adjunct Professor and Director of the Community Fellows Program Melvin King have all retired. Omar Razzaz, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning, and James Morrison, half-time lecturer in writing and argumentation, have joined the department this year. Professor Lawrence Susskind was appointed Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning.


The renovations of departmental headquarters for both Architecture and Urban Studies and Planning on the third floor of Building 7 were completed as well as the installation of a piece by the American artist Frank Stella, the generous gift of Elliot Wolk.

During the spring semester of 1996 the major renovation of School space in the main complex continued. The most recent phase of the renovation, on the 4th floor around the Building 7 dome and in Building 3, has brought on-line four additional electronic design studios, a model shop, and a cafe area. A key new facility will be completed during this stage of renovation: a visualization theater. This state-of-the art facility will be equipped with high-end computer video projection and videoconferencing capability, allowing remote experts to participate in studio reviews. The total renovation has proceeded in stages over the last three years. One of the goals of the renovation is to create spaces that are flexible and can respond to changes in teaching methodologies of the future.


Curricula throughout the School continue to evolve vigorously in response to emerging conditions and opportunities.

In the Department of Architecture the first students who entered under the new curriculum will graduate with a Master of Architecture degree during the fall term of 1996. The curriculum for this program continues to be fine tuned with the addition of a subject in professional practice to be offered in parallel with the thesis. Ties with several major architects have been established to further the goal of having upper level studios taught by internationally recognized architect/teachers.

The use of external reviewers on Architectural Design Thesis is now being utilized as an effort to improve the process and product of theses.

Though it offers no undergraduate degree, Media Arts and Sciences offered nine undergraduate subjects this year and provided an extraordinary number of openings (242) in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Three faculty and Media Lab staff also participated in undergraduate education by conducting freshman advising seminars or serving as freshmen advisors.

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning offered six Freshman Advising Seminars and are reorganizing their undergraduate courses to offer six to eight magnet courses each semester. The Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies hosted 16 Fellows from around the world while the Community Fellows Program brought 12 mid-career community activists to MIT to build their skills to enable them to develop youth-oriented programs for their disadvantaged communities. The department also offered a twelve-week faculty colloquium, funded by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, which explored topics related to Advanced Information Technology, Low-Income Communities and the City. Papers and dialogs generated by the colloquium series are being combined into a book.

The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture hosted two visiting scholars. Khalil Pirani, who is funded by the American Institute of Architects for his research in Mosque architecture in North America, and Shakeel Hossain, who is working on the Ta'zia project. Shakeel Hossain is also a 1988 DIS alumnus.

To reflect changes in the real estate industry the Center for Real Estate has revised two core courses. They have expanded Managing the Real Estate Company by including segments on negotiation and team building. They have also replaced Construction Technology and the Building Construction Process with Building Technology in Real Estate Decision Making which focuses on evaluating existing structures and building systems rather than new construction.

Five scholars from the People's Republic of China participated in a week-long workshop, directed by Professor Wheaton, to carry out a comparative study of real estate market information systems in Beijing, Shanghai and the United States. The center also hosted a day-long focus group on changing practices and emerging challenges in the property management industry attended by 290 senior executives from firms that provide or consume management services in commercial office buildings.

Steve Benton has been appointed as Director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies. This department is once again offering the degree Master of Science in Visual Studies. It is offered jointly with the Visual Arts Program as part of the graduate program in Public Art. To re-establish itself as a leader in the field of critical art and design the center has changed its emphasis and has begun to redesign its programs, including educational and research methods programs, accordingly.


The academic year was marked by a series of outstanding public events. Some showcased innovative work from within the School; others offered us the chance to learn from leading international figures in design and social issues.

The tenth day of the tenth month of 1995 saw the remarkable 10/10 events marking a decade of intense intellectual activity at the Media Laboratory. The day-long symposium and open house provided a vibrant window onto the present and future of digital media and celebrated one of the great success stories in the Institute's recent history.

Over the course of the academic year, we had the fortune to hear directly from some of the world's leading designers and artists on the process and meaning of their work. In the Department of Architecture, Visiting Professor William Bruder, one of the most creative younger designers in America, delivered the Arthur Schein Memorial Lecture, while Japan's Fumihiko Maki, one of the most respected of those who have made Japanese architecture internationally influential, delivered the Pietro Belluschi Memorial Lecture. In an informal public discussion coinciding with the opening of the Wolk Gallery, Frank Stella offered insights into the genesis of his own recent work.

The John Howard Memorial Lecture was sponsored by The Department of Urban Studies and Planning. The event included a retrospective of Professor Howard's career in the department and featured a keynote address by Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development.

Two international conferences and a roundtable discussion were sponsored by the Aga Khan Program this year. In the fall AKPIA sponsored the roundtable discussion, "From Classic to Arab Cities: Urbanism in the Levant During the Medieval Period," and co-sponsored "Expressions of Identity: Mosques in North America." In the spring they sponsored the conference "Rethinking the XIXth Century Town: the Morphogenesis of the Urban Fabric."

The Ralph Adams Cram Award for outstanding interdisciplinary work at the Master's level was presented to June Lisa Burke, 1995 graduate of the Center for Real Estate. The Lawrence B. Anderson Award, which is made every two years to an alumnus of the School for a proposal to research and document a significant aspect of the build environment went to Erik Gunnar Haugsnes, who received his B.S.A.D. from the Department of Architecture in 1983, for a proposal to study the architecture and urbanism of the Tibetan Diaspora that has taken place during the last thirty years.


This was a year of great progress. It ended on a high note with preparations to move the majority of the Department of Architecture's activities back from Building N51-52 to new studio and office space at the central 77 Massachusetts Avenue location, and to reunite Architecture, DUSP, Library, and Administrative functions.

William J. Mitchell

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96