MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


The Department of Architecture continues to maintain and enhance its role as one of the eminent professional schools of architecture, with a mission to provide students instruction in history, technology, and the arts, as well as the many domains of the discipline of architecture. By "discipline" we understand the full constituency of architecture to be much broader in scope than the profession; on a department level "discipline" refers not only to architectural design but also to the other distinctive domains of our program: visual arts, building technology, and history, theory, and criticism of art and architecture. We are committed to a leading role in the exploration of new technologies and electronic communications in relation to our physical and social environments.

This year both an MIT Corporation Visiting Committee and a National Architectural Accreditation Board Visiting Team reviewed and reported favorably on the department.

The discussion below is organized by discipline group, followed by individual topics that cross discipline areas.


The statement below was prepared for the accreditation of our professional architectural design degree, but also emphasizes the interconnecting roles of all discipline areas in the Department.

It is commonplace that new theories and new technologies are changing our conception of what architecture can do and how architects conceive their tasks and accomplish them. The unique position of the MIT Department of Architecture is that we survey the development of theory from a decades-old departmental commitment to viewing such developments through the long lens of the history of criticism. We also view technology within an Institute which for a half-century has profoundly shaped and investigated technology's role in society. So we are open to -- indeed are enthusiastic about -- new technologies and theories. But we also feel impelled to test the results of our designing against long-held social and environmental values. As we embrace new conceptions of architecture, we demand of ourselves that our designs have the qualities of space, light, air, tectonic soundness, and place that allow for appropriate, even poetic, inhabitation.

Beginning studios (undergraduate and graduate) build up modeling and drawing skills by focusing those skills on an expanding range of ideas that the students must synthesize in their design projects. The first semester of Level II completes the core studio sequence for graduates and qualified undergrads with an intentional focus on the tectonics -- the making and the resultant feeling -- of architecture.

Having "graduated" from the core sequence, MArch students in Spring Level II and in the two semesters of Level III choose that combination of diverse studio offerings which best meets their individual needs and desires. During those final semesters MArch students develop a concentration, a particular field of inquiry, which they pursue through closely-focused design "workshops" and course-work in this and other departments. The insights gained in this concentration then culminate, in the final semester, with the MArch students' theses.

A hallmark of studio education at MIT is that instructors propose to their students not merely a project but a process by which that design might be accomplished. Our faculty use a shared set of themes as vehicles for advancing their pedagogies. Here are those themes, not imposed by departmental fiat, but observed and endorsed by all of us in mutual consultation:

Tectonic Expression. We find among ourselves a poetic and pragmatic interest in how materiality, the manner of construction, and the means of managing natural forces (gravity, climate, airflow...) might be expressed.

Light and Inhabitation. We feel that attention must be paid to the capacity of light to transform and model space in ways appropriate to a range of human activities and emotions.

Building Community. We believe that respect must be accorded to the identity and social needs of inhabitants of places, both to establish private territories for them, and to enhance their abilities to participate in the public realm.

Cultural Heritage. We respect the value of cultural difference, and we seek strategies that preserve the legacy of artifacts and customs from the past while addressing the pressures and opportunities of the present.

Urbanism. We are acutely aware of architecture's ability to contribute spatially, symbolically, and functionally to the shared but divergent social and economic life of cities.

Engaging the Landscape. We understand the impact of buildings as material and experiential extensions of the land. We thus pay particular attention to the impacts that designed environments have on natural systems.

Sustainability. We feel a concern for the conservation of natural resources, not just in terms of the efficiency of the buildings we design and the practices our buildings foster among their inhabitants, but in terms of larger practices like settlement and transportation.

Virtual Environments. We are fascinated by the use of digital media to both research and represent physical spaces and phenomena. We are even more fascinated by the chance such media afford us to design sites, software, and protocols that might foster a sense of inhabitation, of place, in cyberspace.

A sample of research by faculty in Architectural Design includes sustainability (Andrew Scott), New American School Design Project (Roy Strickland), visualization (Julie Dorsey), shape grammars (George Stiny, Terry Knight), space planning and organization (William Porter), computation and unbuilt architecture (William Mitchell, Takehiko Nagakura), design in developing countries (Wampler, Goethert), and urban design (Dennis, Beinart).


The building technology program has several research projects directed by Leon Glicksman and Qingyan Chen, underway in the state-of-the-art lab opened last year which can be used to study indoor air quality, thermal comfort, building energy analysis, and heating ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system control and design. Leslie Norford and Julie Dorsey continue their work on a computational tool to aid architects in complex lighting designs. Chris Luebkeman's research explores innovations in tensegrity structures. While a search continues for a faculty member in materials and construction, the teaching needs in these areas have been met by a line-up of local professionals. Barry Webb and Carl Rosenberg teamed again to teach lighting and acoustics.


Faculty and students are well represented by publications and conference contributions in their fields. It was an exceptional year in the quantity and quality of external research grants awarded to graduate students. A highlight of the year was a symposium marking the 25th anniversary of the program, featuring noted scholars and alumni/ae. Research interests of the faculty include architecture and urbanism of modern Europe and America, architecture and epistemology, historiography, architectural theory, modernization in the Middle East, urbanism in pre-modern Europe, late medieval and Renaissance architecture, French nineteenth century art, feminist and post-structural theory, American art, classical and medieval Islamic architecture and urbanism.


Dennis Adams assumed the directorship of the Visual Arts Program (VAP), which continues to support the undergraduate education curriculum at the Institute and in addition has five graduate students. VAP collaborated with the Graduate School of Design of Harvard to organize lectures and seminars with two internationally-known artists, Dan Graham and Muntadas. Further strengthening its investigation into the production of art and social responsibility, VAP appointed Joan Jonas as Visiting Artist in the spring. VAP students participated in "Repeat/Reverse," an exhibition of work by visual arts students shown at Yale University School of Architecture.


The undergraduate program has benefitted from the clarification of its curriculum and now has in place a core group of committed and enthusiastic faculty advisors. Some faculty have volunteered to serve as mentors through the Freshman Seminars program.


Ellen Dunham-Jones was promoted to Associate Professor of Architecture. Qingyan Chen was promoted to Associate Professor of Building Technology. Bill Hubbard was appointed Adjunct Associate Professor. Wellington Reiter was appointed Associate Professor of the Practice of Architecture.

Visiting faculty included: Hasan Uddin-Khan in architectural design; Diane Ghirardo in History, Theory, and Criticism; and Joan Jonas, Visiting Artist. Lecturers were appointed for the particular skills they could offer to the curriculum: Michael Boucher, Carl Fasano, Daniel Greenwood, Paul Paturzo, Bashar Altabba, Vincent Camalleri, Aamir Aleem Durrani, Minhaj Kirmani, Richard Leber, Carl Rosenberg, Barry Webb, Dorothea Dietrich, Hélène Lipstadt, Barbara Broughel, and Julia Scher.

On leave in the fall was Julie Dorsey; on partial leave in the fall were Andrew Scott, Sibel Bozdogan, and Leila Kinney. On leave in the spring was Krzysztof Wodiczko.

Eric Dluhosch and Sandra Howell, two professors who made long-standing contributions to the department, completed their terms of appointment following their earlier retirements. Ritsuko Taho completed her contract in the Visual Arts Program. To our regret, our Aga Khan Professor, Attilio Petruccioli, offered a five-year rather than ten-year appointment as Professor of Practice, elected to take a professorship in Italy.

Professor Emeritus Albert Dietz died in June.

Searches are ongoing for a senior design position and a tenure-track position in building technology.

Krzysztof Wodiczko was awarded the prestigious Hiroshima Art Prize, given every three years to an artist whose work demonstrates high achievement in international contemporary art and has contributed to world peace. Jan Wampler and Dennis Frenchman were awarded the Irwin Sizer Award for Most Significant Improvement to MIT Education, for their Beijing Urban Design Studio. Wampler also was elected to Fellowship by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The AIA 1997 Education Honors Program selected the submission by Reinhard Goethert, "Learning in the Field: Rebuilding Communities," for honorable mention. Goethert also received a grant from the Boston Foundation for Architecture for his program, "Neighborhood Architectural Explorers."


Student Awards designated by the Department or Institute: The William Everett Chamberlain Prize for graduating BSADs for achievement in design (Javorka Saracevic, Lin-Ann Ching). The Sydney B. Karofsky `37 Prize for the outstanding Master of Architecture student with one further year of study (Benjamin Kou, Joel Turkel). The Francis Ward Chandler Prize for achievement in architectural design (Wolfgang Ungerer, Rodney Ziesemann). The Alpha Rho Chi Medal for leadership, service for the school and department, and promise of real professional merit (Lana Yoon). The AIA Certificate of Merit for second-ranked master of architecture student (Robert Clocker, Melanie Coo). The AIA Medal for the top-ranked master of architecture student (Scott Tulay). The SMArchS Prize (Talin DerGrigorian, Kevin Fellingham, Bryant Yeh). Caminos Memorial Fund Award (Kristin Little). The Imre Halasz Thesis Award (Scott Tulay, Rodney Ziesemann). The AIA Foundation Scholarships (Andrew Jonic, Jacob Kain, Juintow Lin). The Kristen Ellen Finnegan Memorial Award in History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture (Nana Last). Faculty Design Award (Laura Bouwman, Isaac Persley). Schlossman Research Fellow (Nilay Oza, Hadas Steiner). Ann Macy Beha Travel Award (Rebecca Berry). Louis C. Rosenberg Travel Award (Li Lian Tan). Marvin E. Goody Prize (Gary Rohrbacher, Bryant Yeh, Greg Russell, Joel Turkel). Aga Khan Program Summer Travel Grant (Birgul Colakoglu). Robert Bradford Newman Medal for Merit in Architectural Acoustics (Max Chen). Tucker-Voss Award (Eric Nelson). Hyzen Pre-Dissertation Research Award (Adnan Morshed).

External Awards: Skidmore Owings & Merrill Foundation Traveling Fellowship in Mechanical/Electrical Building Systems Engineering (Andrea Whitsell). New England Society of Architectural Historians Travel Award (Thomas Beischer). Dibner Fellowship (Edward Eigen). Gerondelis Foundation Graduate Scholarship Grant (Irene Fatsea). College Art Association Travel Grant (Panayiota Pyla). Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship (Sarah Whiting). Henry Broomfield Rogers Fellowship (Ritu Bhatt). Social Science Research Council Grant (Brian McLaren). Fulbright Fellowship (Brian McLaren). Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship (Hadas Steiner). ASHRAE Graduate Student Grant-in-Aid (Xudong Yang, Jelena Srebric).


Competition for exceptionally talented and motivated students remains high. Developing the means to offer competitive packages to students choosing architecture, a field with long degree programs and low professional salaries, is a high priority. We are grateful for the recognition of this difficulty by the Institute.


The goal of consolidating the department's teaching and support services continues to be met phase by phase. Although some studios and faculty offices, the Visual Arts Program, and the Indoor Air Quality Laboratory remain in N51/52, the department benefitted from last year's move of the majority of studios and faculty to the Main Complex.


Activities of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture of Harvard and MIT are reported separately in this volume.


A total of 261 students were counted in Course IV (as of 10/31/97): 70 undergraduates, 74 MArch, 51 SMArchS/SM without specification, 5 SMBT, 5 SMVisS, 30 resident PhD, 21 Non-Resident PhD, and 5 Special (non-degree) Students.


The Department of Architecture Lecture Series brings outstanding scholars, practitioners, and artists to the School. In the fall, speakers were Andy Foster, Marc Treib, Bob Allies, Santiago Calatrava (who gave three lectures with accompanying seminars, co-sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering), and French practitioners Odile Decq and Bénoit Cornette, Jean-François Bonne, and Fréderic Borel (co-sponsored by The Catholic University and the University of Virginia). In the spring, speakers were Paul Shepheard, Muntadas, Douglas Kelbaugh, Diane Ghirardo, Anthony Vidler, and Françoise Choay. The Pietro Belluschi lecture was given by Renzo Piano. The Arthur H. Schein Memorial Lecture was given by Thomas Herzog. The first Felix Candela lecture (co-sponsored by Princeton University, The Structural Engineers Association of New York, and the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) was given by David Billington. The faculty-to-faculty forum, initiated to introduce faculty to each other's work in research and in practice and to offer opportunity for exchange of talents and interests among them, hosted Nasser Rabbat and Jan Wampler.

Exhibits in the MIT Museum's Wolk Gallery included a continuation of "The Middle Passage Project," demonstrating new computing technologies working in concert with architecture to create a memorial to the passage of slaves to the new world; "The Work of Allies and Morrison," providing a sustained view of the work of this firm following a public lecture by Bob Allies; "Reflections: Drawings and Projects by Wellington Reiter," examining the concept of vessels, contemporary art and relationships to Piranesi by a faculty member. New this year, the department programmed the Compton Gallery with shows of the drawings of Michael McKinnell and Ada Karmi-Melamede and recent Master of Architecture theses. In conjunction with the accreditation visit, an extensive exhibit was organized to show work from current and recent studios and workshops.

The department publication, Thresholds, is now well established as a means to communicate to alumni and friends of the School something of the intellectual life here. The weekly newsletter, PinUp, offered a forum for debate and served to communicate in-house about activities within the department. The publication of the first two Pietro Belluschi Lectures, by Sverre Fehn and Sir Michael Hopkins, was well received. Publication of the next two lectures by Fumihiko Maki and N. Michael McKinnell is in preparation.

In the fall Hasan-Uddin Khan organized a symposium, "The Architecture/Landscape Pact: Pedagogical Initiatives," sponsored by The Graham Foundation. In the spring, the Department celebrated the 25th anniversary of the History, Theory, and Criticism program with a symposium, "Architecture, Art, and Cultural History: Refractions and Reflections."


Our preparation for the review committees this year, including extensive exhibitions of student work, convinced us and numerous external observers that our core programs in architectural design are indeed operating at a distinctive and high level. The production and the recognition of our several advanced graduate programs was also gratifying.

The department is now settled into its newly renovated premises, but it is imperative that certain key elements left behind at our satellite building (N51-52) be reunited as soon as possible. Most notably this involves undergraduate design studios and the offices of many of the studio-teaching faculty.

We made some remarkable appointments of world-renowned architects as studio professors in coming years. These include Charles Correa, Frank Gehry, Ada Karmi-Melamede, and Fumihiko Maki. In the coming year we will be looking at the opportunity for synergetic relations among such visiting faculty and certain open lines, including that resulting from the loss of our Aga Khan Professor.

Financial aid for our graduate students, especially those in our professional M.Arch. program remains our greatest need, both in winning the best students for our program and in sending them forth without crushing debt.

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

Stanford Anderson

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98