MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


During the 1996-97 academic year, the School of Architecture and Planning vigorously continued to improve its core physical facilities, to develop new computer and digital telecommunication capabilities, to sponsor new ventures in research and teaching, and to build and renew its faculty. These efforts are expected to position the School as a strong leader into the 21st century.


Faculty development and renewal remains a top priority. During 1996-97 there were important faculty appointments in all units of the school.

In the Department of Architecture Krzysztof Wodiczko was promoted to Full Professor and Julie Dorsey was promoted to Associate Professor. N. Michael McKinnell joined the faculty as Adjunct Professor, Chris Luebkeman joined the faculty as Assistant Professor, and Dennis Adams was appointed Associate Professor with tenure. Peter Testa, previously a Visiting Associate Professor, was appointed Associate Professor effective July 1, 1997. Ann Pendleton-Jullian was named the inaugural holder of the Alfred Henry and Jean Morrison Hayes Career Development Chair. Professors Maurice Smith and John Myer completed their terms of employment.

In Media Arts and Sciences Bruce Blumberg joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor and holds the Asahi Broadcasting Corporation Career Development Chair. Assistant Professor Justine Cassell has been named to the AT&T Career Development Chair.

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning hired Jennifer Davis as Assistant Professor. She will be joining the faculty in 1998. Associate Professor Lawrence J. Vale was granted tenure and Qing Shen was appointed Mitsui Career Development Assistant Professor.

Stephen A. Benton, E. Rudge (`48) and Nancy Allen Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, became director of The Center for Advanced Visual Studies on July 1, 1996.

An overriding concern and goal for the School is to increase the diversity of our faculty and students. Over the past few years, with help from the Provost's special programs, we've had great success in attracting women and minorities to the School. However, it is easy to slip in these efforts, so we continue to apply aggressive recruitment efforts in every faculty search.

Two special fellowship programs in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; the Community Fellows Program and the SPURS Program bring to the School mid career practitioners from minority communities, who work in urban and regional development in the United States, and in developing countries, to study and pursue independent research.


Last fall, the major renovations of design studios continued in the area surrounding the dome on the fourth floor of building 7. As a result, the majority of the Architecture studios are being taught in new space, the new cafe and public areas have become lively and successful social centers, and the architectural quality of the new space has been recognized by a Design Citation from the New England Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Further renovations of research and teaching spaces, in completion of the School's phased master plan, are continuing and will continue to improve the quality of student workspaces, computing facilities and classroom and teaching spaces for the Departments of Architecture and Urban Studies and Planning.


After evaluating the undergraduate curriculum, the Department of Architecture has reorganized the process of advising undergraduates and is planning changes in undergraduate teaching. With the support of a grant from the Graham Foundation, the Department of Architecture is exploring ways to incorporate landscape more fully into the curriculum. This year the Visual Arts Program graduated its first students with the Master of Science degree in Visual Studies. The program continues to evolve and is planning to institute a visiting artist program.

Currently the Program in Media Arts and Sciences (MAS) does not offer an undergraduate degree, however, they continue to explore several options which will enable them to institute an undergraduate program in the future. During the past year MAS faculty and staff offered nine undergraduate subjects, conducted freshman seminars, and served as freshman advisors. MAS continues to provide an extraordinary number of positions to undergraduates in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning's Undergraduate Committee is developing a proposal for a new interdisciplinary Minor in Public Policy, targeting students majoring in science and engineering. This initiative will require the cooperation of the Political Science and Economics departments, as well as other departments. The department hopes to have their proposal under consideration by the necessary MIT committees during the 1997-98 academic year. The department offered four more for-credit courses during the Professional Development Institute held during the Independent Activities Period than they offered last year. These for-credit and non-credit offerings attracted over 300 students, alumni/ae, and local professionals.


The academic year showcased innovative work from within the School as well as offering us the chance to learn from leading international figures in design and social issues.

This year in the Department of Architecture The Arthur H. Schein Memorial Lecture was given by Ada Karmi-Melamede. N. Michael McKinnell, Adjunct Professor, gave the Pietro Belluschi Lecture. Andrew Scott organized a major symposium on "Dimensions of Sustainability." Invited for a three week residency, the conceptual artist, Lawrence Weiner, conducted classes, workshops, and gave a public lecture. Julie Dorsey won the prestigious Edgerton Award. Fernando Domeyko won a design competition for a church in Chile while Dennis Adams, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Ritsuko Taho, and Barbara Broughel received public art commissions. A Festschrift was held to honor Stanford Anderson. The symposium brought in speakers and attendees from around the world and marked the publication of a collection of essays by his colleagues and former students, The Education of an Architect, (M. Pollak, Ed.), honoring his contribution to the field.

In the Program in Media Arts and Sciences Professor John Maeda was awarded the 1996-97 Tokyo Type Director's Club Gold Prize for 10 Morisawa Posters exhibited at the Ginza Graphic Gallery in August 1996. Professor Pattie Maes was named one of the 1997 "100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum and Seymour Papert, LEGO Professor of Learning Research Emeritus, was named the winner of this year's NEC Leadership Award for Education by the Smithsonian Institution.

The Karl Taylor Compton Lectures were sponsored, in part, by The Department of Urban Studies and Planning. This series of three lectures was delivered by Dr. Oscar Arias Sánchez, Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of Costa Rica. The Department of Urban Studies and Planning received a plaque honoring the founder and first chair of the Department, Professor Frederick J. Adams, from The American Institute of Certified Planners, the Society for American City a and Regional Planning History, and the Massachusetts Chapter of the APA.

The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture held three international conferences and a roundtable discussion during the academic year. In the fall Acting Director Attilio Petruccioli and Associate Professor Nasser Rabbat organized the roundtable discussion, "From Antiquity to Islam in the Cities of al-Andalus and al-Mashriq." The international conferences were "Urban Triumph or Urban Disaster? Dilemmas of Contemporary Post-War Reconstruction," organized by Jon Calame and Esther Charlesworth; "Bukhara: the source, the Myth, the Architecture and the Urban Fabric" and "The Courtyard House and Urban Fabric," both organized by Professor Petruccioli.

The Center for Real Estate hosted a well received seminar organized and led by member Robert Danziger, retiring Chairman of Northland Development.

The Center for Advanced Visual Studies has been collaborating with Instituto de Soldadura e Qualidade of Lisbon, Portugal, as well as with present and former Fellows of the Center to provide a proposal to the management of Expo'98 (Lisbon) for a stand-alone public art exhibition to be presented next summer at Expo'98. The project is still in development.

The Ralph Adams Cram Award for outstanding interdisciplinary work at the Master's level was presented to Rupinder Singh, graduate of the Department of Architecture, for his thesis "Piranesi's Campo Marzio Plan: The Palimpsest of Interpretive Memory."

This year marked the first full year of exhibits in the School's new Wolk Gallery. Curator of Architecture at the MIT Museum, Kimberly Shilland, organized three shows during the academic year: The Work of Eduardo Catalano, Ritual Architecture in India, and A Sense of Place, A Sense of Time: Drawings by J. B. Jackson.

More information about the School of Architecture and Planning can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

William J. Mitchell

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97