MIT Reports to the President 1998-99


The Aga Khan Program is dedicated to the study of Islamic architecture, visual arts, conservation, urban design and rehabilitation in an effort to respond to the cultural and educational needs of a diverse Muslim world. Towards this goal we aim to improve the teaching of Islamic art and architecture, promote excellence in professional research, and enhance the understanding of Islamic architecture and urbanism in light of contemporary developmental issues. We also continually promote the visibility of pan-Islamic cultural heritage.

Established in 1979, the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is supported by an endowment from His Highness The Aga Khan. The Geneva-based Aga Khan Trust for Culture provides additional funding for a variety of program activities.


The Fall 1998 SMArchS History and Culture Degree program comprised eight students. Six students were awarded AKPIA scholarship packages. The program admitted three new students: Aslihan Demitras, Mamta Prakash, and T. Luke Young. Continuing students were Nandini Bagchee, Markus ElKatsha, Deeba Haider, Saman Mahmood, and Nilay Oza. Deeba Haider, Saman Mahmood and Mamta Prakash graduated in June 1999.

Continuing doctoral students in AKPIA's History, Theory and Criticism Program (HTC) were Shirine Hamadeh, Panayiota Pyla, Kishwar Rizvi, Lara Tohme, and Maha Yahya. 1998 SMArchS graduate Talin Der-Grigorian was admitted to the PhD program. Tuition support and stipends for doctoral students in residence were provided by the AKPIA-endowed scholarship fund. Shirine Hamadeh completed her PhD and began Post-Doctoral work in Spring 1999.


In the Fall 1998 semester, Associate Professor Nasser Rabbat taught the HASS-D class, "Religious Architecture and Islamic Cultures," which was made accessible via the internet. He also co-taught with Professor Sibel Bozdogan the required SMArchS introductory seminar, "Orientalism and Representation," which explores relationships between architecture and culture. In the Spring 1999 semester he taught a new lecture class, "Islamic Architecture and the Environment," and a new seminar "Cultural Signification in Architecture."

In addition to co-teaching "Orientalism and Representation," Associate Professor Sibel Bozdogan taught three courses in the 1998—1999 academic year. "Technology and the Modern Project" and "Architecture: 1750-Present" during the fall semester and "Architecture and Modernization in the Middle East" during the spring semester.

Visiting Professor Hasan-Uddin Khan taught a Level 1 Design Studio and conducted the seminar "Conservation in the Islamic World" in Fall 1998. Dealing with current practices and case studies, the seminar examined a diverse range of issues from the applicability of various conservation charters to the impact of tourism. Invited lecturers included Professors Ronald Lewcock, Philip Marshall, Samir Abdulac and Sami Angawi.


AKPIA Professor Nasser Rabbat organized the Fall 1998 and Spring 1999 AKPIA/MIT "An Evening With" lecture series. The Fall series began with "From the Personal to the Public: An Individual Experience in Restoring Traditional Buildings" a roundtable discussion with Sheikha Hussah al-Sabah, director of the Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyya in Kuwait. Other roundtable participants included Professors David Friedman, Attilio Petruccioli, and Nasser Rabbat. The series continued with talks by Dr. Seyed Aliakbar Saremi, Architect; Dr. Samir Abdulac, Architect and UNESCO Consultant; and Azim Nanji, dean of the Institute for Isma'ili Studies, London. The spring "Evening With" lecture series continued with Bernard O'Kane, Professor of Islamic Art & Architecture at The American University in Cairo and Director of the Monumental Epigraphy Project; Jerrilynn Dodds, Professor of Architectural History, School of Architecture, City College, CUNY; Murray Milne, Professor Emeritus, Department of Architecture and Urban Design, UCLA; and Nuha Khoury, Assistant Professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Islamic and Near Eastern Studies Program, UCSB. AKPIA/MIT also hosted two lectures by visiting scholars Adnan Pasic, Aga Khan/MIT Visiting Scholar from Sarajevo, and Mustafa Pultar, Aga Khan/MIT Visiting Scholar from Turkey.


From March 24th through April 21st 1999 AKPIA/MIT, with the support of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva, presented "Istanbul: Crossroads of Religious Architecture," an exhibition of photographs by Murat Germen, an alumnus of MIT. Murat Germen also gave a lecture about his work.


Former MIT Aga Khan Professor and Acting Director, Attilio Petruccioli, organized an extensive Summer 1998 fieldwork program in Anghiari, Italy; Fez, Morocco; and Peshawar, Pakistan. Working with Centro Studi del Territorio "Luigi Vagnetti" school of landscape studies and its director Professor Alessandro Giannini, students were trained in typological methodologies for the study of Islamic landscapes of the Mediterranean basin. This training was applied to fieldwork in Fez, Morocco where the Fez Jdid's Mellah (Jewish quarter) was studied. The final two-week workshop was carried out in Peshawar, Pakistan with the participation of the University of Peshawar Professor Abdul Rehman, University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Professor Yousaf Awan, and MIT Research Associate Shakeel Hossain. Also participating were the National College of Arts, Lahore; Dawood College of Engineering and Technology, Karachi; and School of Architecture, Ferrara. The AKPIA/MIT summer fieldwork program hosted twelve participants in the Anghiari section, thirteen in Fez, and nine in Peshawar; the latter group joined by twenty-two NCA and UET students.

In January 1999, Professors Nasser Rabbat and Hasan-Uddin Khan led a study trip to Cairo, Egypt. The fifteen MIT students and one PhD student from Boston University, spent a week visiting the various conservation and restoration projects in Islamic Cairo and meeting with conservators. Students produced reports and sketches of preservation projects. The case studies, together with a discussion of the issues and bibliographies, are to be posted on the world wide web.

Faculty Activities

Nasser Rabbat, Associate Professor of the History of Architecture in the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture Program and the Aga Khan Career Development Professor of the History of Islamic Architecture, delivered papers at the Islamic Area Studies Project at the University of Tokyo, Japan; the Friends of Islamic Art Lecture Series, Harvard University; the DePaul University Center, Chicago, IL; The Hagop Kevorkian Center, New York University, NYC; and Wellesley College, MA. He published 16 articles in the Arabic newspaper al-Hayat on issues in cultural politics, architectural history and criticism, and reviews of books and films. He also published essays in Journal of Architectural Education (September 1998), Abwab 19 (Winter 1999), Al-Hilal 107, 1 (January 1999), and in Projecting Beirut: Episodes in the Construction and Reconstruction of the Modern City, Peter G. Rowe and Hashim Sarkis, eds. (Munich; London; New York: Prestel, 1998). He is currently working on two books, Shaping the Mamluk Image: The Scope of the Sources and Historicizing the City: The Significance of Maqrizi's Khitat of Cairo. He is co-authoring Interpreting the Self: Autobiography in the Arabic Literary Tradition, Dwight Reynolds et al. He is co-editing the 1999 NYU Kevorkian Lectures and was awarded an American Research Center in Egypt fellowship for Spring 2000.

Associate Professor Sibel Bozdogan completed her book Modernism and Nation-Building: Turkish Architectural Culture in the Early Republic to be published by University of Washington Press. In October 1998 she presented a paper at the conference "Architecture and Exile: The German-Speaking Emigration and the Transformation of Modernism" held in Berlin and chaired a panel in the MESA Annual Meeting in Chicago in December. She delivered the Annual Campagna-Kervan lecture at Boston University titled "Republican Visions and Current Revisions: Architecture and Identity in Turkey," and published "Architectural History in Professional Education: Reflections on Postcolonial Challenges to the Modern Survey" in the May 1999 issue of the Journal of Architectural Education. She is currently working on a keynote paper "Istanbul 1900: Ferry Landings as Markers of Urban Modernity" to be presented at the International Conference "Architecture Culture 1900" to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Visiting Associate Professor, Hasan-Uddin Khan offered a seminar in Fall 1998 and advised students. He was the chair of the M.Arch. theses presented in December. Professor Khan has also just completed a book on 20th century architecture of the Middle East to be published in 1999. In October he attended the final follow-up meeting of the May 1998 conference on Islam and Ecology held at the Center for World Religions at Harvard University. During the Spring 1999 semester he was Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Architecture. He conducted two graduate seminars, one on architecture and urbanism in Asia, and the other on the rhetoric on contemporary architecture in the Islamic world, with an emphasis on the decisions of the master juries of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Library Resources

Omar Khalidi, Collections/Reference Librarian, and Ahmed Nabal, Librarian of Visual Collections, attended the International Book Fair held in Casablanca in November 1998. While in Morocco they met with faculty members in the School of Architecture in Casablanca, government officials responsible for restoration projects throughout Morocco as well as several practicing architects, planners, and librarians in Casablanca, Rabat and Fez. They returned with an extensive collection of books, visual archive materials and fruitful new contacts for acquisitions. In January 1999 Omar Khalidi presented a paper at the International Seminar on Mosque Architecture held by the School of Architecture, King Saud University in Riyadh and lectured at the National College of Art (Lahore), Department of Archeology (Peshawar), American Center (Islamabad), and at Indus Valley School of Architecture (Karachi).

In Spring 1999 two exhibits were displayed in the Rotch Library, a photographic exhibition of wind towers in Southwest Asia (Persian Gulf states, Iran, and Pakistan) in support of a class on environment in the Islamic world and "The Aga Khan Award for Architecture: the Recipients of the 1998 Award."

The AKPIA Rotch library website ( drew together visual images from the archives and textual architectural information for faculty, students, and researchers. Ahmed Nabal edited webpage modules and added images from Morocco and of modern mosques to the visual collections on the web. Three new database files were created to link essential information for indexing and retrieving information for images in the teaching collections as well as in the archives. The image database, the summer travel grant program archives and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture images database were all edited and enhanced. Omar Khalidi revised and updated the textual information on the webpage.

To assist the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, develop their architectural teaching collection, more than 4,000 slides were selected and provided from the visual archives during the year. Continuing our efforts to improve our visual archives, two collection development projects are beginning; one on historic and contemporary sites in Iran and another of selected sites in Moroccan cities.


Students participating in the Harvard University Department of the History of Art and Architecture PhD program were Persis Berlekamp, Mark DeLancey, Ahmet Ersoy, May Farhat, Oya Pancaroglu, Alka Patel, Leslie Poe, Alexis Sornin, Zeynep Yurekli and Emine Fetvaci. Rebecca Foote completed her PhD thesis this year.


Professor David J. Roxburgh, Assistant Professor of the History of Art and Architecture, taught four classes at Harvard this year. They were an undergraduate lecture course "Early Islamic Art and Architecture (650-1250);" a pro-seminar for graduates and advanced undergraduates on the art and architecture associated with Islamic pilgrimage; a junior tutorial for History of Art and Architecture concentrators on the relationships between science, art, architecture, and the new media technology; and a graduate seminar titled "Between Figuration and Abstraction: Persianate Painting of the 14th—17th Centuries."


The Fall "Friends of Islamic Art" lecture series featured Dr. Adel Adamova, Curator of the Iranian Collections, Oriental Department, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; Professor Nasser Rabbat, Associate Professor in the History of Architecture, AKPIA/MIT; Professor Ethel Sara Wolper, Department of History, UNH; Dr. Ruba Kana'an, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford University. A workshop, "From Humayma to Empire: The Abbasids West of the Euphrates," featured Alan Walmsey, ARC Research Fellow, Department of Semitic Studies, University of Sydney, and Rebecca M. Foote, AKPIA Harvard PhD, Director of the Gharandal (Jordan) Archaeological Project, and Co-Director of the Humayma (Jordan) Excavations. The Spring "Friends of Islamic Art" lecture series speakers were Dr. Valerie Gonzalez, Ecole d'architecture de Marseille-Luminy; Dr. Cynthia Robinson, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton University; Prof. Eva Hoffman, Department of Art and Art History, Tufts University; and Dr. Shirine Hamadeh, AKPIA MIT PhD graduate.

Professor David Roxburgh organized and chaired a two-day symposium, "The Making and Reception of Painting in the Pre-Modern Islamic World," in May at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Lecturers and discussants included Dr. Sheila Blair, Dr. Jonathan M. Bloom, Prof. Yves Porter, Dr. Elaine Wright, Prof. Renata Holod, Abolala Soudavar, Dr. Marianna Shreve Simpson, Prof. Priscilla P. Soucek, Prof. David Roxburgh, Prof. Irene Winter, Dr. Serpil Bagci, Prof. John Seyller, Prof. Zeren Tanindi, and Prof. Gulru Necipoglu. The conference's 14 speakers and discussants presented new research and scholarly thinking about four categories of painting and the arts of the book: the methods and materials used to make books; the conception and realization of painting (and models of production, mainly the kitabkhana); theories and aesthetics of painting; and the reception of painting and the book in their post-production contexts. The papers will be published as a volume of Muqarnas (no. 17, in 2000) with an introductory essay by Prof. Roxburgh.

Faculty Activities

While on sabbatical leave during 1998—1999, Harvard University Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture Gülru Necipoglu is completing her book on the 16th century Ottoman chief architect Sinan and his patrons. The book presents a new interpretation of the oeuvre of Sinan and his 16th century codification of the Ottoman classical style.

Prof. Necipoglu is also nearing the completion of an international group project on portraits of the Ottoman sultans. Organized by Professor Hans-Georg Majer at the University of Munich and funded by the Thyssen Foundation, the nine members have been holding meetings in Venice, Oxford, Budapest, Istanbul and Ankara to study relevant collections. The final publication, slated for 1999, will contain her essay, "Word and Image in Portraits of the Ottoman Sultans." Under her editorial direction, Muqarnas 15 appeared in Fall 1998 with the support of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. In November she visited Sarajevo and Mostar under invitation from UNESCO to join the "International Committee of Experts for the Rebuilding of the Old Bridge and Historic City of Mostar." She will attend future meetings in Mostar throughout the Mostar bridge reconstruction initiative.

Professor David Roxburgh continued work throughout the academic year on his book, Writing Art Histories under the Safavids: The Album Preface. He completed an article, "Bahram Mirza and His Collections," to be published in Safavid Art and Architecture, edited by Sheila R. Canby (London: British Museum Press). He published "Disorderly Conduct?: F. R. Martin and the Bahram Mirza Album," in Muqarnas 15 (1998), and a review of The Art of the Pen: Calligraphy of the 14th to 20th Centuries by Nabil F. Safwat in Ars Orientalis, 28 (1998). He presented papers for Harvard's Friends of the Fogg Museum lecture series; the Historians of Islamic Art majlis at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art held in conjunction with the 1999 College Art Association Annual Meeting; the conference "Islamic Art, Culture, and Civilization: Iran" sponsored by UNESCO, University of Tehran (Faculty of Arts), Universite de Sciences Humaines de Strasbourg, and Institute of Islamic Studies (London); and at the Middle East Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He is working on two articles to appear in an issue of the Harvard University Art Museums Bulletin devoted to Islamic art. He received a J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship and also won an ARIT-NEH Postdoctoral Fellowship which he had to decline.

Library Resources

Jeffrey Spurr, Cataloguer of Islamic Art, participated in the Access Task Group charged with establishing the set of fields for the public interface of VIA, the newly-developed online union catalogue for visual collections at Harvard. With AKPIA Bibliographer, András Riedlmayer, he mounted an exhibit at the Fine Arts Library entitled "Documenting the Visual Culture of the Islamic World: The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture," which provided an introduction to the range of materials documenting Islamic art, architecture and culture at the library. His Survey of the holdings of the Harvard Film Study Center resulted in an important acquisition of 770 19th century photographs of the Middle East, which are especially rich in images of Morocco and Algeria, with Egypt and Palestine also well represented. Jeff Spurr had an article published in Hali 104 (May-June 1999) entitled "Revisiting the Shahsavan," and continued his efforts to support Bosnian libraries.


The MIT-based Central Office continues to act as the nexus of information sharing between AKPIA Harvard and MIT, strengthening program visibility through a wide range of AKPIA outreach, communications, and publications activities. It provided financial reports and activity updates to the donor, the Geneva-based Aga Khan Trust for Culture. AKPIA governance and the Fall 1998 and Spring 1999 AKPIA Executive Committee meetings were coordinated by the Central Office.

The Central Office published and distributed AKPIA proceedings, Rethinking the 19th Century City and Bukhara: The Source, the Myth, the Architecture and Urban Fabric, as well as the AKPIA Workbook Dead Cities Heritage Corridor. A special 20 page Fall 1998 research issue of the AKPIA Newsletter was published and widely distributed among 2000 readers worldwide. The AKPIA website was updated and expanded this year. The AKPIA Central Office co-sponsored the Spring 1999 exhibit "Istanbul: Crossroads of Religious Architecture," with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. This year it completed Phase III of the AKPIA/Sarajevo Reconstruction Initiative.

More information about AKPIA can be found on the World Wide Web at

Alberto Balestrieri

MIT Reports to the President 1998-99