MIT Reports to the President 1998-99


During the 1998—99 academic year, the School of Architecture and Planning moved forward by building and renewing its faculty, by sponsoring new ventures in research and teaching, through further improvements to its core physical facilities, and through the development of new computer and digital telecommunication capabilities. These improvements will position the School as a strong leader into the 21st century.


Faculty development and renewal remains a top priority. During 1998—99 there were important faculty appointments in all units of the school.

In the Department of Architecture Dennis Adams was promoted to full Professor of Visual Arts and is now established as the Director of the Visual Arts Program. Distinguished performance artist Joan Jonas was appointed Professor in the Visual Arts Program and will join the faculty in January 2000. Wendy Jacob was named Assistant Professor and will play a leading role in the undergraduate Visual Arts Program. Takehiko Nagakura was promoted to Associate Professor (without tenure). Nasser Rabbat received tenure and was appointed Aga Khan Professor as well as Director of ArchNet. Paul Lukez, an MIT alumnus, was appointed Assistant Professor of Architectural Design, with a principal commitment to design studios.

In the Program in Media Arts and Sciences (MAS) Scott Manalis joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor where he will be using MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) at the Media Laboratory to investigate new technologies for monitoring biochemical reactions related to DNA and functional proteins.

In the Department of Urban Studies and Planning Professor Qing Shen was promoted to Associate Professor and J. Mark Schuster was promoted to Professor. Eric Klopfer joined the Department as the new head of the Teacher Education Program. Dara O'Rourke was appointed Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy and Balakrishnan Rajogopal was hired as Assistant Professor of Law and Development.

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. We continue to apply aggressive recruitment efforts in every faculty search.


The renovation of the City Design and Development headquarters on the fourth floor of building 10 was completed this fall. Within the area, a new, advanced classroom will include a media table designed by Professor Hiroshi Ishii of the Media Laboratory. The media table features a sophisticated display system that is activated by the manipulation of physical objects on the table top.

Renovations to the undergraduate studio spaces in N52 were completed over the January break. This work added further data connectivity, security measures, and completed much needed general upgrading.

The last phase of renovating the School's spaces in the main complex (the renovation of offices, project rooms and the Computer Resources Laboratory in building 9) was postponed for financial reasons. This final phase of the School's master plan continues to be high on the list of School priorities.

The Media Laboratory announced the establishment of the future Okawa Center which will be devoted to children, learning, and developing nations. The Center, made possible by a $27 million donation from Isao Okawa, Chairman of CSK Corporation (the parent company of SEGA Enterprises Ltd.), will be housed in a new building adjacent and connected to the current Media Lab. The Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) will also be housed in the new center. The building will more than double the size of the Lab and is scheduled for occupancy in early 2003.


The departments throughout the School continue to innovate in response to emerging conditions and opportunities.

The Department of Architecture held weekly faculty meetings and a summer seminar to discuss potential initiatives in teaching and research. New appointments and leadership in the Visual Arts Program have established a nationally recognized contemporary art program.

The Program in Media Arts and Sciences (MAS) received final approval to launch a special freshman-year program which will enroll its first 24 students this fall. During the year, 250 Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) students participated in projects at the Media Laboratory. Many pursued their undergraduate theses under MAS faculty supervision. Additionally, MAS offered eleven undergraduate subjects, while three MAS faculty members and staff conducted freshman seminars or served as freshman advisors.

During the 1998—1999 academic year, the Committee on Curricula granted approval to the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) and the Department of Political Science for a new interdisciplinary undergraduate Minor in Public Policy, effective fall 1999. The Master's in City Planning (MCP) program began a two-year effort to make key changes to the program, while the PhD program focused on strengthening its advisor system. The Environmental Policy Group (EPG) began to modify its curriculum by adding a series of methods modules and several new courses. The Community Fellows Program was renamed the Center for Reflective Community Practice and has broadened its mission from supporting mid-career professionals to developing mutually enriching linkages between the resources of communities and MIT.

At the Center for Real Estate, course content continued to evolve as the real estate industry changed, particularly in the areas of finance and real estate capital markets.


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.

This year in the Department of Architecture the Pietro Belluschi lecture was given by Charles Correa. The second Felix Candela lecture was given by Jörg Schlaich. World-renowned architect and distinguished Visiting Professor Frank Gehry led a studio with his colleague Jim Glymph and Dean William Mitchell. Assistant Professor Chris Luebkeman and Research Scientist Kent Larson successfully launched an industry-supported research and design project, "The House of the Future" or "House-n." The American Collegiate Schools of Architecture named Jan Wampler a 1999 Distinguished Professor. Dennis Adams had solo exhibitions at Kent Gallery, New York City and Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie, Paris. Julia Scher had a major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco. Bill Porter and Visiting Scholar Gabriela Goldschmidt organized a successful international symposium, "Design Thinking Research Symposium: Design Representation."

In March, the School conducted an intensive design charrette with Frank Gehry, Laurie Olin, Steven Holl, and Fumihiko Maki to brainstorm about the future of the MIT campus.

In the Program in Media Arts and Sciences Professor Stephen A. Benton received the first Saxby Medal from the Royal Photographic Society (UK), acknowledging his pioneering work in the medium of holography. Neil Gershenfeld received the Graduate Student Council Teaching Award. Resurrection, a new opera composed by Professor Tod Machover, premiered at the Houston Grand Opera this spring. Professor John Maeda's interactive piece, "Tap Type Write," won a gold medal and "best in show" gold prize in the interactive media category from the Art Director's Club (ADC) in New York.

In November, the Media Laboratory hosted Junior Summit '98 which brought 92 children from 54 countries to MIT for one week to brainstorm about ways to create a safer, more ecologically responsible, and humane planet. "Action plans" emerging from the Summit included the formation of "Nation 1," a virtual nation guided by ethics rather than laws, and "Global Kidz Bank," and institution where philanthropists deposit funds into an online "bank" to support kid-oriented initiatives.

In the Department of Urban Studies and Planning faculty and students in the City Design Group (CDD) organized and participated in two special department-wide seminars and related lectures, "Imaging the City" and "Remaking Crisis Cities." In October, the Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) celebrated its 30th anniversary with a one-day workshop "Human Development and Collective Action: Fresh Concerns and Opportunities." The Housing, Community and Economic Development (HCED) group launched a highly beneficial community development and organizing initiative in the city of Lawrence, MA. "Cybersisters and Virtual Visionaries," the first regional conference on the role of women of color in the information age, was conducted by the Center for Reflective Community Practice.

The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) organized a yearlong "An Evening With" lecture series. The fall series included a roundtable discussion "From the Personal to the Public: An Individual Experience in Restoring Traditional Buildings." A photographic exhibition and lecture "Istanbul: Crossroads of Religious Architecture" was presented in the spring.

The Center for Real Estate (CRE) hosted a well-attended fourteenth summer of professional development courses. Highlights of the fall term included a well-received occasional seminar "Real Deals" and a presentation on Orstead, a new town in Denmark. The Center hosted two member meetings for corporate supporters, current students, and faculty. The December meeting discussed the question "Does Turbulence on Wall Street Mean Chaos for Real Estate," while the May meeting explored "Cities and Suburbs in the New Millennium."

Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) Professor Krzysztof Wodiczko presented his "Bunker Hill Project," in which vivid images and accounts of death and violence in Charlestown, Massachusetts, were projected during three evenings on the Bunker Hill monument. Gloria Brown-Simmons finished a NASA-sponsored research program on "creative visualization" as a tool to allow artists to use scientific data as a starting point for interactive aesthetic explorations. Professors Glorianna Davenport and Stephen Benton conducted a weekly seminar series "MAS 879: Experiences in Interactive Expression" which brought a collection of renowned artists to MIT and culminated in an exhibition of student-produced interactive installations at CAVS.

The Ralph Adams Cram Award for outstanding interdisciplinary work at the Master's level was presented to 1998 SMArchS graduate Kevin Fellingham for his thesis, "To Continue (Approaching the Woodland Cemetery)."

During the academic year, the Department of Architecture was invited to program the MIT Compton Gallery. Exhibitions in the fall were "An Architecture of Independence: The Making of Modern South Asia" and "Solar Energy in Architecture and Urban Planning." In the spring exhibitions included "Unbuilt Ruins: Digital Interpretations of Eight Projects by Louis I. Kahn" and "New Craft Technology."

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

William J. Mitchell

MIT Reports to the President 1998-99