MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


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 1995-96 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 was published through the fall of 95.

Lecture series at MIT were organized by Aga Khan Professor Attilio Petruccioli, and included talks by Ludovico Micara, School of Architecture, Pescara, Italy; former AKPIA student Scott Redford, Georgetown University; Hugh Kennedy, University of St. Andrews, Scotland; Indian designer Rajeev Sethi; Alessandro Giannini, School of Architecture, Genoa; and Maurizio Tosi, University of Bologna. Lectures were also given by AKP Visiting Scholar Shakeel Hossain, former Visiting Scholar Amir Pasic, and others, including a public recital of modern Arabic poetry and traditional songs from Iraq. In October, the AKPIA presented an exhibition, "Samarkand and Bukhara in Central Asia: Preservation and Development," which included drawings and surveys by students in the MIT Department of Architecture.

Two international conferences and a roundtable discussion were organized by Aga Khan Professor Attilio Petruccioli. The fall saw the roundtable discussion, "From Classic to Arab Cities: Urbanism in the Levant During the Medieval Period," which brought together architectural historians, archaeologists, architects, and urban planners to discuss this process. They included Irene Bierman, UCLA; Renata Holod, UPenn; Thomas Leisten, Princeton; Scott Redford, Georgetown; and MIT Professors Stanford Anderson, Nassar Rabbat and Aga Khan Professor Attilio Petruccioli. Two International Conferences were sponsored by the Aga Khan Program in this past academic year. The first was a symposium co-sponsored by the AKPIA, "Expressions of Identity: Mosques in North America," organized by MIT Department of Architecture's Visiting Associate Professor and former Aga Khan Program Visiting Scholar Hasan-Uddin Khan, which presented six case studies of representative examples of community mosques in North America. The participants included professors Jerrilyn Dodds, NYU; Renata Holod, UPenn; Syed Gulzar Haider, Carleton University; Akel Kahera and Latif Abdul Malik, Princeton; Aga Khan Professor Attilio Petruccioli; Sibel Bozdogan and Nassar Rabbat, MIT; architects Mokhless Al-Hariri; Michael Keselica; Javed Sultan; Richard Shepard; Anwar Hossain; Ilhan Zeybekoglu; and Javid Malek, and Aga Khan Program Librarian Omar Khalidi, and Aga Khan Visiting Scholar Khalil Pirani, and Hasan-Uddin Khan. In the spring, the Aga Khan Program presented a conference titled, "Rethinking the XIXth Century Town: the Morphogenesis of the Urban Fabric," which drew participants from around the world. Papers were presented by Jeremy Whitehand and Karl Kropf, the University of Birmingham, UK; Hidenobu Jinnai, Hosei University, Japan; Pierre Pinon, Ecole d'Architecture Paris-La Defense; Jean Castex, Ecole d'Architecture de Versailles; Guiseppe Strappa, University of Bari, Italy; Sylvain Malfroy, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne; Anne Vernez-Moudon, University of Washington, Seattle; Erick Valle, University of Miami; Michael Conzen, University of Chicago; Brenda Scheer, University of Miami, Cincinnati; and Julian Beinart, Stanford Anderson, Roy Strickland, Aga Khan Professor Attilio Petruccioli, and John Habraken of MIT.


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; Gulru 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; Nassar Rabbat, Aga Khan Development Professor, History Theory and Criticism Program in the Department of Architecture, MIT; Andras 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 November, Dina Freedman joined the Program as a part-time senior secretary. In January, Renee Caso, AKPIA administrator, left to join the staff at the Department of Architecture Headquarters at MIT. Attilio Petruccioli remained as Aga Khan Professor and acting director of the Program. Robert Marlatt, part-time senior office assistant, and Dina Freedman remained to assist the acting director with Program administration and professorial support.

In June, as part of a design studio for the upcoming fall semester, Professor Petruccioli traveled with a group of graduate students to Essaouira, Morocco and Como, Italy to study urban situations in historic contexts.


In 1995-96, four 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. Tuition and living expenses for the SMArchS students at MIT were funded in whole or in part by AKPIA current funds. Three of these AKP students graduated in May: Can Bilsel, Aparna Datey, and Joseph Raia.

Student reflection and debate focused on both practical and theoretical issues concerning the architecture characteristics 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.

In the fall semester, students participated in a level III architectural design studio led by Professor Petruccioli which examined establishing a dialog between the old and new in Bukhara and Kuwait City, and reacting logically to the messages of history. Professor Petruccioli also taught a design workshop, "The Architecture of the Territory and Forms of the Landscape," which emphasized the understanding that the landscape is not an empty space to be filled with emerging "monuments," but a continuous structure with complex formal relationships and hierarchical elements. In the spring Professor Petruccioli offered a workshop, taught along with Professor Renata Holod at UPenn, "From Region to Neighborhood: Reading the Islamic City," which was a multidisciplinary approach to the study of the urban fabric.

Of the six AKPIA doctoral students in the HTC program, Maha Yahya, Panayiota Pyla and Kishwar Rizvi were in residence in Cambridge; and Shrine Hamadeh returned to Cambridge and MIT after preparing dissertation research in Istanbul last year; 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 Cambridge residential doctoral students at MIT were funded in whole or part by the AKPIA endowed scholarship fund.

Assistant Professor in the History of Islamic Architecture Nassar Rabbat offered "Religious Architecture and Islamic Cultures," and "Orientalism and Representation," taught with Assistant Professor Sibel Bozdogan. E.J.Brill, in Leiden, Netherlands, published Professor Rabbat's book, "The Citadel of Cairo: A New Interpretation of Royal Mamluk Architecture" in the fall of 1995.


During 1995-96, the AKPIA hosted two visiting scholars. Khalil Pirani's research on Mosque architecture in North America was funded by the American Institute of Architects. Shakeel Hossain, a 1988 DIS alumnus, continued his work on his Ta'zia project; he traveled to India and organized an exhibition presented at the Trienalle in Milan, which will also be on exhibition at the MIT Museum in the fall of 1996.


Specialized acquisitions and services at the Rotch Architecture Library continued to be provided through endowed funds. Ahmed Annabal continued as the AKPIA archivist at the Rotch Visual Collections (RVC). The AKPIA's videodisc system, Images of Islamic Architecture, continued to be a valuable resource to students, faculty and staff. The Rotch Visual Collection has created a worldwide Web site that includes a link to textual and visual resources on Islamic architecture at MIT, including a "World-Wide Tour Of Islamic Monuments" featuring images from the Aga Khan Visual Archives. Omar Khalidi, reference librarian for the AKPIA at the Rotch Library, continues to assist students and faculty with the AKPIA book collection.

Attilio Petruccioli

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96