The School of Architecture and Planning is made up of five main divisions—the Department of Architecture, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the Media Lab, the MIT Center for Real Estate, and the Program in Art, Culture and Technology.
The unifying theme of all our activities is design. Through the design of physical spaces, and through the design of policies and technologies that shape how those spaces are used, we aim to sustain and enhance the quality of the human environment at all scales, from the personal to the global.
We believe that design and policy interventions should be grounded in a commitment to improving individual human lives, equity and social justice, cultural enrichment, and the responsible use of resources through creative problem solving and project execution.
The School of Architecture and Planning enrolls an average of 600-700 students a year in a collection of courses ranging from Renaissance architecture to the cities of tomorrow, digital fabrication, motion graphics, shape grammars, photography, and construction finance. By far the largest number of those students enter our graduate programs and many of them also pursue cross-disciplinary studies and dual degrees among those programs and others at the Institute.
Throughout the years, we have been noted for the diversity of our student body, drawing on candidates from around the world and from all walks of life. The Department of Architecture graduated its first woman, Sophia Hayden, in 1890, and three years later, Robert Taylor became the first African-American to graduate from an American architecture program—a tradition of inclusiveness that continues today.
One of MIT's founding principles is the belief that professional competence is best fostered by focusing teaching and research on real problems in the real world, and at the School of Architecture and Planning we take that mandate very seriously.
Accordingly, a central aspect of our teaching and research is our ongoing participation in global initiatives—many of them collaborative undertakings among our five divisions, with other divisions of MIT, and with public and private institutions in the US and abroad.
As a result of this commitment, it is fair to say that the faculty and students of the school are truly citizens of the world—engaged in the problems facing countries at all stages of development, taking part in the public discussion of issues on a global scale, studying, developing and applying best practices all around the world.
To enhance collaboration among the School's divisions and with other divisions at MIT, a major new facility was opened in the spring of 2010, designed by Fumihiko Maki, winner of the Pritzker Prize in 1993. Adjacent to and part of the School's legendary Media Lab—designed by alumnus I. M. Pei (1940 BArch), also a Pritzker Prize winner—the facility houses an array of cutting-edge work in media, art, and technology, building on synergies among the building's tenants.
Our history stretches back nearly a century and a half, providing our current students with a legacy and long tradition of pioneering excellence. The Department of Architecture was the first such department in the nation (1865) and became a leader in introducing Modernism to America. The program in city planning was the second of its kind in the country (1932), later evolving into the current Department of Urban Studies and Planning, the longest continuous planning program in the United States and repeatedly ranked number one in the nation.
The Media Lab, the birthplace of multimedia computing (1985), has come to be known around the world as a world-class incubator of new design ideas; the Center for Real Estate established the nation's first one-year graduate program in real estate development (1984); and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (1967), now part of the new Program in Art, Culture and Technology, pioneered the use of technologies such as lasers, plasma sculptures, sky art, and holography as tools of expression in public and environmental art.
The Rotch Library is one of the nation's premier resources in architecture and planning, offering extensive depth in architecture, building technology, art history, photography, environmental studies, land use, urban design, housing and community development, regional planning, urban transportation and real estate. Its visual collections hold more than 60,000 digital images and 380,000 slides.
The School's Wolk Gallery mounts several shows a year in its exhibition space, overseen by the curator of architecture and design at the MIT Museum. The Keller Gallery, a vest-pocket space of about 200 square feet, shows a steady stream of faculty, student, and experimental work, including work from alumni and friends. The PLAZmA Digital Gallery is an electronic showcase of work and events on display in the School's public areas, featuring faculty and student work.
The MIT Museum frequently features exhibits on architecture and visual studies in its main galleries at 265 Massachusetts Avenue, as well as in its Compton Gallery, located in the heart of campus under the big dome. The Museum's eGallery, a virtual exhibition space and archive, features sites designed specifically as virtual exhibitions, spotlighting museum collections as well as exhibitions no longer on display in its galleries.
The List Visual Arts Center, three galleries on the first floor of the Media Lab's Wiesner Building, presents 5-8 shows a year exploring contemporary artmaking in all media. Rotch Library also features exhibits of student, staff, and faculty work, as well as shows from its collections, in its space in Building 7-238.
The School's newsletter, PLAN, is published in print and online by the Dean's Office, Room 7-231; it is also available as a PDF and a mobile app. The five divisions of the School can be contacted directly about their lineup of publications.
Mark Jarzombek, BA, PhD
Professor of History and Theory of Architecture
Assistant to the Dean
Assistant to the Associate Dean
Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration
Director of Human Resources
Finance and Human Resources Administrator
Assistant Dean for Development
Manager, Alumni and Donor Relations
Administrative Assistant, Development
Director of Communications
Administrative Assistant, Communications