By having a group of active practitioners as the core of the design faculty, architecture at MIT is centered on contemporary practice. While we are keenly aware of the necessity to learn, to borrow, to exchange with other disciplines, and we actively pursue interdisciplinary collaboration, we believe the basic intelligence of architecture is generated first of all from the bottom up and from within.
Design today is confronted by and has to address a set of contemporary conditions —namely climate change, globalization, technology and urbanization. As difficult as it might be, we are also extremely interested in how these issues will inform and inspire design, thus education.
Architectural Design focuses on a broad range of perspectives linking several common concerns: site and context, use and form, building methods and materials, and the role of the architect. Context is considered in terms of preexisting natural and constructed forms and sociological patterns of use. The architect is seen less as the sole creator of a completed building than as a collaborator in shaping the physical environment.
A broad range of architectural design studios is offered. After establishing a basis in a core curriculum, the focus shifts to choices among design projects of ascending complexity. Introductory studios provide a basic architectural design background and vocabulary and help undergraduates decide whether they want to continue in architecture. The intermediate studios provide a range of experience of form-making in which individual faculty present their particular approaches to exploring design issues. The advanced studios give graduate students the opportunity to sharpen their skills and develop their own attitudes of form-making. In their theses, students carry a project of their own from concept through theory and design to a final product.
The work of the Architectural Design faculty extends beyond the studio. Workshops, lectures, seminars, and research engage the built environment, the forces that mold it, and the design process itself. The work of the faculty covers areas such as large-scale physical settings, behavioral studies, environmental programming, the form and evaluation of cities, computation and design, architectural theory and design methodology, decision making procedures in design, housing and settlement forms in developing countries, self-help processes, and design in non-Western cultures.