Hashim Sarkis, Dean
The School of Architecture and Planning is the oldest in the United States. It is also the most vigorous.
Established in 1865, the school includes among its graduates renowned figures like Louis Sullivan, Robert R. Taylor, Marion Mahony Griffin, I.M.Pei, Kevin Lynch, Gordon Bunshaft, William Pedersen, and Nicholas Negroponte.
In addition to architecture and planning, the school has over the years embraced a broader range of fields that address and improve human environments, including real estate, media, and the arts.
What binds these fields together is a strong commitment to the deployment of technology towards social good. What also binds them together is the use of design and deliberation approaches towards action that are distinct from but complementary to the engineering approach to problem solving. What further brings them together is the shared belief in heightening the aesthetic attributes of our lived experience.
While advocating the forward-looking, technologically-driven optimism of MIT, the school also invests in critically reflecting on technological innovation, its social impact and its confrontation with cultural values.
The school is fully committed to the mission of leadership. The long tradition of innovation constantly propels us decades ahead, and its faculty and students strive to articulate its mission and to show the way.
The school’s abundance of resources stems primarily from the Institute’s full endorsement and support of the school’s vision. These resources include an unmatched concentration of talent among its faculty and staff, a wealth of state-of-the-art facilities, and generous financial support that enable the students to experiment, innovate and take risks.
While this “MIT model” is being emulated by other institutions all over the world, at MIT, we seek to constantly test it and renew it.
J. Meejin Yoon, Department Head
MIT has been involved in inventing the future for the past 150 years, quite literally. From Chaos Theory to Cybernetics; from the Human Genome to Dark Matter; and from the fax machine to the World Wide Web, MIT has helped invent the future we live in today. There are few departments of architecture in the world that exist within a context so deeply committed to the advancement of knowledge through scholarship, research, and innovation. There are even fewer operating in a place with as pressing a sense of responsibility to “bring this knowledge to bear on the world’s great challenges”. The Department of Architecture at MIT is truly unique among architecture programs in its commitment to creating a culture of experimentation to expand the discipline and change the world.
At MIT, processes and acts of design, research, testing, and experimentation are intertwined and grounded in critical contemporary questions which require deep knowledge of the past and present as well as insights into the future. We enable and open up our students’ understanding of the built environment as a cultural, technological, social, and ecological condition ó one in which design is as critically focused on answering questions as it is about solving problems through intervening in the world.
Offering undergraduate, professional, post-professional, and doctoral degree programs across six discipline groups, the department provides an energetic and rich site to study the field. What this structure presents is intensive research on the one hand, and possibilities for integration on the other. It allows the undergraduate and masters students to learn alongside advanced degree and doctoral students, bringing a plurality of views and interests to the fore and fostering a culture of intense and productive debate.
In the past year, we launched a number of new initiatives to support experimentation and collaborative teaching, scholarship, and practice. We continue to strive to provide precise and rigorous architectural training, teaching students how to frame and test ideas and arguments through the design process, while also challenging them to pursue questions that push us all beyond our comfort zones. Our goal, as a department, is to prepare our students not only with “best practices” but to find ways to transform the profession to meet future challenges.