MIT Reports to the President 1997-98



The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA), administered jointly by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was established in 1979 to promote research and teaching and develop information resources in Islamic art, architecture, and urbanism. The central office for the AKPIA program is located at MIT and has responsibilities to both Harvard's and MIT's program. Due to MIT's responsibilities regarding both sites this report will include information on both portions of the program. His Highness The Aga Khan has given each institution an endowment that will permanently support instruction, research facilities, and student aid in those disciplines. It is intended that the study of Islamic architecture, visual arts, urban design, conservation, and urban rehabilitation will continually respond to the cultural and educational needs of a diverse Muslim world.

The MIT-based AKPIA central office continued to strengthen the program's visibility through outreach communications and publications in 1997-98. This was highlighted by the resumption of the AKPIA Newsletter and the publication of proceedings from the 1995 conference on "Typological Process and Design." Three volumes of AKPIA conference proceedings are underway.


Students joining the SMArchS program, concentrating in Architectural Studies of the Islamic World, in 1997-98 were Nandini Bagchee, Markus ElKatsha, Deeba Haider, Saman Mahmood, and Nilay Oza. Georgiy Levashov and Minakshi Mani graduated in June. Tuition and living expenses for the SMArchS students at MIT were funded in whole or in part by AKPIA funds.

Students focused on both practical and theoretical issues concerning the architectural characteristics of non-western societies. Students compared traditional Islamic architectural forms and structures with those developed after the spread and application of Western ideas during modern times. They considered appropriate responses to climate, building materials, and building technology as well as the socio-cultural attitudes and values that directly relate inhabitants to their environment.

AKPIA doctoral students active in the History, Theory and Criticism Program (HTC) were Shirine Hamadeh, Pani Pyla, Kishwar Rizvi, Lara Tohme, and Maha Yahya. Tuition support and stipends for the doctoral students in residence at MIT were funded by the AKPIA-endowed scholarship fund. Talin Der-Grigorian and Yonca Kosebay graduated from the HTC program with the SMArchS degree.

AKPIA courses for fall 1997 were the studio "Architecture and Urban Context: Traditions, Conflicts, Changes. The Dead Cities of Syria--Can They Live Again?" offered by Attilio Petruccioli and Reinhard Goethert; "Special Problems in Non-Western Architecture--Reading the Islamic City in Regions of Persia, India and Central Asia," offered by Professor Petruccioli and Renata Holod of the University of Pennsylvania; and "Religious Architecture and Islamic Cultures" and "Orientalism and Representation," both offered by Associate Professor Nasser Rabbat.

In spring 1998, Attilio Petruccioli and Research Associate Shakeel Hossain taught "Sacred Symbolism and Representation in the Architecture and Urbanism of the Indo-Islamic Culture." Professor Rabbat taught "The Architecture of Cairo" and "Issues in Islamic Urbanism."


The fall MIT lecture series included talks by Vivek Nanda (Univ. of Cambridge), Samer Akkach (Univ. of Adelaide), Doris Abouseif (Harvard's Graduate School of Design), Abdul Rehman (Univ. of Technology and Engineering, Lahore, Pakistan), Harvard Aga Khan Professor Gülru Necipoglu, Shawkat Toorawa (Univ. of Mauritius), and Claudio D'Amato. In addition, in October, students who received AKPIA travel grants or participated in AKPIA fieldworks made presentations on their summer research. The semester concluded with a roundtable on the "Dead Cities of the Limestone Massif in Syria."

In the spring, Professor Petruccioli and Shakeel Hossain introduced a thematic lecture series in conjunction with their course on Indo-Islamic architecture and urbanism. Speakers for this series included Loyal Rue (Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions), Edwin Bryant (Harvard), Samina Qureshi (Sheppard and Qureshi Associates), Rochelle Kessler (Harvard's Sackler Museum), Jan Pieper (Univ. of Aachen), Omar Khalidi (MIT), Mahvash Alemi (Univ. of Pescara, Italy), Frank Korom (Univ. of New Mexico), Peter Chelkowski (New York University), Catherine Asher (Univ. of Minnesota), Gulzar Haider (Carleton Univ. of Canada), Noman ul-Haq (Rutgers Univ.), and Hasan-Uddin Khan of MIT. The lecture series and course wrapped up with a roundtable entitled "The Sacred in Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism," featuring Rupinder Singh and Kazi Khaleed Ashraf along with Hossain.

Other spring lecturers at MIT included Said Mouline of the Moroccan Ministry of Housing, who presented a roundtable on "Preserving the Urban Moroccan Heritage;" Dwight Reynolds (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara), who presented "A Living Oral Tradition from the Arab World;" visiting scholar Valerie Gonzalez (Univ. of Marseille-Luminy), who spoke on the "Problem of Representation in the Art of the Alhambra;" Alpay Ozdural (Eastern Mediterranean Univ., North Cyprus), who spoke on "A Practical Method of Teaching Geometry to the Architect-Artisan in the Medieval Islamic City;" and Francoise Choay (Sorbonne), who lectured on "Preservation of Urban and Architectural Heritage: A Societal Problem" and participated in a roundtable on urban preservation and historic value with MIT faculty.


An exhibition curated by AKPIA Research Associate Shakeel Hossain, "The Ephemeral, the Transient, the Static: Ritual Architecture and Urbanity," traveled to the University of Pennsylvania after stops last year at the Milan Triennial 19th International Exposition and MIT; The University of Pennsylvania also presented another Hossain-curated exhibit which included drawings and photographs by Attilio Petruccioli entitled "The City of Sun and Water: Fathpur Sikri."


Twelve MIT students and three Harvard students participated in the summer 1998 fieldworks organized by Professor Petruccioli, Harvard Visiting AKPIA Scholar Abdul Rehman, and AKPIA SMArchS graduate Zarminae Ansari. Students elected either of two architectural surveys of the landscapes, fabrics and bazaars of the historic centers of Fez, Morocco or Peshawar, Pakistan, and then joined together for a summer school of landscape in Anghiari, Italy. The Anghiari session consisted of courses in theory and practice of analyzing the landscape, conducted by Prof. Alessandro Giannini, Professor Emeritus of the University of Genoa. MIT and Harvard students were joined in the courses by students from the School of Architecture of Ferrara (Italy), the School of Engineering of Lahore (Pakistan), and the School of Architecture of Rabat (Morocco).

Birgul Colakoglu, PhD student in Design and Computation, is conducting research in Sarajevo with a summer 1998 AKPIA travel grant.


Over the past year Aga Khan Professor and Acting Director Attilio Petruccioli attended several conferences, symposia and seminars, including: "Fourth International Seminar on Urban Form," (Urban Morphology Research Group), Univ. of Birmingham, United Kingdom; "V Incontro di Studio," (International Center for the Study of Regional and Urban Evolution), Pienza, Italy; "Transformations of Middle Eastern Natural Environments: Legacies and Lessons," (Council on Middle East Studies), Yale University; "Culture and Identity of the Mediterranean, Memory and Making," (Forum for Mediterranean Cultures), Jerusalem; the Fifth Colloquium on Architecture and Behavior--"Architectural Knowledge and Cultural Diversity," Ascona; "Islam and Ecology," (Center for Study of World Religions), Harvard; and "New Town: Morphogenesis and Development," (International Seminar on Urban Form), Paris. Professor Petruccioli lectured at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Lund, Sweden. Professor Petruccioli's article, "Analisi del processo di parcellizzazione nello sviluppo urbano, Il caso di Boston," co-authored with Paolo Carlotti, appeared in the January-February 1998 issue of Paesaggio Urbano. Professor Petruccioli edited the recently published AKPIA conference proceedings "Typological Process and Design."

Associate Professor Nasser Rabbat is currently working on a book tentatively entitled, Visual Echoes in a Textual Culture: Representation of Art and Architecture in the Medieval Arabic Literature, concerning art and architecture in the medieval Middle East and their social, cultural, and historical contexts. In 1997-98, he gave lectures at UCLA, New York University; the University of St. Andrews, Scotland; the American University of Beirut, Lebanon; The Dar al-Athar al Islamiyya, Kuwait; and Granada, Spain. He also participated in several symposia at MIT and Harvard University.

Associate Professor Sibel Bozdogan is completing her book, Modernism and Nation-Building: Turkish Architectural Culture in the 1930s.

Visiting Associate Professor Hasan-Uddin Khan was one of three plenary speakers at "Islam and Ecology," a conference held in May at Harvard's Center for World Religions and supported in part by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Professor Khan spoke on "Architecture of Islam: Responsibility and the Natural Environment." Professor Khan's book International Style: Modernist Architecture from 1925 to 1965 was published this spring.


The AKPIA newsletter is being published again after several years of dormancy. 1800 copies were distributed throughout the Aga Khan research network. Proceedings from the conference on "Typological Process and Design" were published and distributed. The proceedings for the XIXth-Century House and Bukhara conferences are expected to appear in print by fall 1998.

In September the Program held a reception to welcome new students and AKPIA colleagues and revived the tradition of presenting an orientation for SMArchS students. AKPIA also undertook a major effort to locate AKPIA alumni in preparation for the Program's 20th Anniversary celebration, to be held in 1999-2000.


AKPIA Rotch Library of Architecture and Planning librarian Omar Khalidi presented his exhibit on designed mosques of North America at the Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman in April at the invitation of the United States Information Service. To inaugurate the display he spoke to a large audience of ministers, architecture and engineering faculty. Khalidi also travelled to Karachi, visiting Dawood College of Engineering and Technology, and discussed library collaboration with the National College of Art in Lahore.

Visual archivist Ahmed Nabal continues to plan and design the Aga Khan Program Archives' Visual Images internet-accessible database. It will be accessible through the MIT libraries' Aga Khan webpage. The two Rotch libraries' Aga Khan website collections on Islamic architecture and mosques in the US are frequently consulted. They were published in The Scout Report for Social Sciences, November 4, 1997 and will be included on an educational CD-ROM to be issued by Houghton Mifflin for distribution without charge to middle schools throughout America.

Library activities during the year included exhibits featuring 19th-century photographs of Palestine from the Alwan Collection, Mamluk revival architecture from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, Bosnia and the Moroccan city Ghadames. A significant set of some 130 survey maps of the walled city of Hyderabad, Deccan, India was jointly copied for their collections by MIT and the University of Pennsylvania through the courtesy of Professor Leonard at the University of California, Irvine.


Students in the PhD program in Harvard's Department of Fine Arts were Persis Berlekamp, Mark DeLancey, Ahmet Ersoy, May Farhat, Rebecca Foote, Oya Pancaroglu, Alka Patel, Leslie Poe, Leslie Schick, Alexis Sornin, Barry Wood, and Zeynep Yurekli.

Harvard Aga Khan Professor Gülru Necipoglu offered the proseminar "Issues in Ottoman Architectural Culture" and co-taught with Henri Zerner "Art and Visual Culture: Introduction to the Historical Study of Art and Architecture." Assistant Professor David Roxburgh offered two half-courses, "Art of the House of Tamerlane (1370-1506)" and "Islamic Pilgrimage."


Professor Necipoglu sponsored a number of speakers for the "Friends of Islamic Art Lecture Series." Post-doctoral Research Fellows Barry Flood, Nebahat Avcioglu, Anatol Ivanov, and Nurhan Atasoy lectured in their areas of specialization. This series also included the following distinguished speakers: Klaus Kreiser, Tulay Artan, Ebba Koch, Serpil Bagci, Said Mouline, Renata Holod, and Serafin Moralejo. Other post-doctoral Research Fellows were Abdul Rehman and Ruba Kanaían.

Professor Necipoglu is completing her book on the 16th-century Ottoman architect Sinan and his patrons. In October she participated in an international project for "Portraits of Ottoman Sultans" in Istanbul, presenting the paper "Word and Image in Portraits of the Ottoman Sultans" and discussed publication of the project next year. In November she attended the annual conference of Middle East Studies Association (MESA), and served as a discussant of a panel organized by David Roxburgh, "Literature and Architectural History." In February she participated as a discussant in Princeton Institute for Advanced Study workshop organized by Oleg Grabar and Michael Cook, "Geometry and Islamic Visual Culture," and was invited to make critical closing comments. In April she participated in a conference on Ottoman law organized at the Harvard Law School by Cemal Kafadar and Frank Vogel, as discussant of paper by Tulay Artan, "Ottoman Law, Material Culture, and Conspicuous Consumption." Her article "The Suburban Landscape of Sixteenth-Century Istanbul as a Mirror of Classical Ottoman Garden Culture" appeared in Gardens in the Time of the Great Muslim Empires: Theory and Design, Attilio Petruccioli (Leiden, 1997).

Professor Roxburgh attended several conferences this year and presented papers at three. He also organized and chaired the aforementioned MESA panel on "Architecture and Literary Texts." Throughout the year Professor Roxburgh's main research and writing focus has been on his sourcebook, Writing Art Histories Under the Safavids: The Album Preface.


During 1997-98 AKP Cataloguer, Jeff Spurr, worked on developing an automated cataloguing system for the Visual Collections and online cataloguing of visual materials, starting with Islamic manuscripts. The librarians undertook a year-long special project to identify publications on Islamic art and architecture amidst the library's backlog of printed materials awaiting full cataloguing. They selected materials that had no records of holdings at other American libraries. This project created new access for local users and for outside scholars and institutions.

They acquired several rare materials: pre-World War I photographs of Central Asia, including a fine album of 54 photographs, largely of Samarkand, taken by G. Pankratyev (ca. 1894-1904); 20 loose snapshots of Samarkand and Tashkent (early 20th c.); three large-format albumen prints of Samarkand; and an important full run of the early Egyptian architectural periodical al-'Imarah.

Jeff Spurr continued organizing and providing access to the Fine Arts Library archive of early photographs of the Middle East from the Harvard Semitic Museum. He supervised the conservation, reformatting and rehousing of visual and audio documentation on Iran in the Baroness Ullens Archive. He also continued to coordinate the Harvard College Library's effort to help rebuild the collections of the National and University Library in Bosnia.

Librarians collaborated in the following exhibitions: "Diverse Cultures, Diverse Formats: A Celebration of the 35-year History of the Harvard College Library Middle East Division, 1962-1997," Widener Library, Harvard University, Oct.-Nov. 1997; "Holy Land: American Encounters with the Land of Israel in the Century before Statehood," National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, Jan. -Jul. , 1998; and "Expanded Visions: The Panoramic Photograph," Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Jan. -Apr., 1998.

Andras Riedlmayer presented a series of lectures last July at the Central European University in Budapest as part of a course, "Cultural Heritage in Danger;" he consulted with colleagues at Bosnian cultural institutions and libraries; and organized a panel on the problems of underserved cultures and languages in art libraries at the annual meeting of the Art Libraries Society of North America in March.

Attilio Petruccioli

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98