Faculty scholarship is so diverse and changing that the following topics are not to be considered an all inclusive list, but a reflection of ongoing faculty interests and discipline characteristics.
Medieval and Renaissance Architecture
Nasser Rabbat is an authority on medieval Islamic Architecture with particular emphasis on the relationship between urban culture and architectural form. His most recent book on the subject was The Citadel of Cairo: A New Interpretation of Royal Mamluk Architecture. He also published several essays on Umayyad architecture (7th-8th century) and Mamluk architecture and urbanism (13th-15th century), the last of which is "The Dialogic Dimension in Umayyad Art," RES 43 (Spring 2003). In 2003, he was invited to give a series of lectures at the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris on the subject of word and image as the dual impulse in early Islamic architecture. He is currently completing a project on the fifteenth-century historian Taqqi al-Din al-Maqrizi who, in his prodigious book al-Khitat (1415-40), was the first to produce a true urban history of a city, Cairo in this case. He has already published three scholarly articles on the subject in Annales Islamologiques, Mamluk Studies Review, and the Cairo Heritage, and a book is slated for publication in late 2004.
David Friedman is an historian of early modern urbanism and architecture. He teaches seminars and courses on European cities and Renaissance architecture. His major publication is the book Florentine New Towns, Urban Design in the Late Middle Ages, which won the Hitchcock prize of the Society of Architectural History. He is currently working on the impact of mapping and survey on urban design. In 2003-2004 he was the resident in Medieval Studies at the American Academy in Rome and in 2006 he was a fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology. A first synthesis of his research on survey was published in the Renaissance volume of the History of Cartography (2008). Other articles on the subject include "Fiorenza: Geography and Representation in a Fifteenth Century City View" in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte (2001) and "Urban Design Without Drawing" in the acts of the conference Arnolfo's Moment , i Tatti, Florence, in press. Mark Jarzombek, who published a book on Leon Battista Alberti (1989), continues to work on the topic of Renaissance architectural theory with in A Global History of Architecture, 2006, co-authored with Vikram Prakash and Frank Ching.
Baroque, Rococo and Enlightenment Art and Architecture
Kristel Smentek is a scholar of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art, with particular interests in the art market and collecting practices and their roles in structuring the reception of art. Her research and publications have focused on the eighteenth-century print market, the impact of empiricist epistemology on the display and preservation of artworks, the interrelationship of natural history and rococo design, and the cross-cultural dimensions of European art and collecting. Former faculty member Erika Naginski edited a special volume of Thresholds (2004) entitled "Concerto Barocco," which was dedicated to emeritus Baroque scholar Henry Millon; the roster of contributors included graduate students in the HTC program as well as graduates Hilary Ballon and Christy Anderson.
MIT's Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, which was established in 1979 along with a sister program at Harvard, is recognized around the world as a leading academic center for the study of Islamic architecture and urbanism. Nasser Rabbat, who is the Director of the program, is a scholar of early and medieval Islamic art and architecture [see above], as well as of medieval urban history and historiography. His research focuses on Umayyad, Ayyubid and Mamluk architecture, in addition to post-colonial criticism and its ramifications for the study of architectural history. Rabbat and others teach surveys and graduate seminars on Islamic Architecture, with an emphasis on methodological and theoretical debates.
James Wescoat has recently joined the AKPIA faculty to teach courses on water in environmental design in South Asia and the US, which are shaped by long term processes of development and exchange. He conducts research on the historical geography of Indo-Islamic landscapes and gardens, including a study of the Mughal-Rajput palace-garden complex in Nagaur, Rajasthan.
Rabbat and others teach surveys and graduate seminars on Islamic Architecture, with an emphasis on methodological and theoretical debates. Visiting professors at AKPIA have included Mohammad al-Asad, Nebahat Avcioglu, Gulsum Baydar, Wasma'a Chorbachi, and Jerrilynn Dodds. The Aga Khan Program sponsors a lecture series, a travel grant program, and a post-doctoral program that invites between two and four scholars a year. It is engaged in regularly organizing conferences on issues related to Islamic architecture and urbanism and in pursuing collaborative projects with institutions around the world. Recent speakers have included Profs. Deborah Howard, Cambridge University; Aisha Jalal, Tufts University; Afsaneh Najmabadi, Harvard; and Thomas Leisten, Princeton University.
Art and Technology/Science
The interdisciplinary nature of HTC connects students and faculty with colleagues throughout the Institute on the subject of art, technology, and science; Caroline Jones is directly involved with these exchanges. One of the centerpieces of Jones' work is the cultural and social connections between art and science. Technology and industry, as the "footprints" of science in daily life, are the focus of her work on Frank Stella, Robert Smithson, Andy Warhol and others in her book Machine in the Studio: Constructing the Postwar American Artist, (1996/8) which received the Charles Eldredge Prize from the Smithsonian Institution. These interests also motivated individual essays on Francis Picabia, studio/laboratory/factory, and the impact of engineering structures on artists, as well as curatorial projects (such as Painting Machines and award-winning Sensorium for the List Visual Arts Center) and her co-edited volume with Peter Galison, Picturing Science, Producing Art (1998). Jones also participated in a Video Art show at the List, where her essay "Video Trajectories" was published in 2007. Recently joining the HTC faculty is Kristel Smentek, whose work on Enlightenment collectors includes research and scholarship into the "mysteries" of hard-paste porcelain production in European workshops and the development of color printmaking technologies; she has also examined issues of perception in the 18th century.
David Friedman is a specialist in Renaissance urbanism with strong interests in the technology of design: measurement, surveying, drawing, setting out. Friedman's 2006 project for the Dibner Instute was the examination of incunabula on survey, military architecture, and other other subjects that included technical illustration.
Mark Jarzombek's interest in the intersection of architectural practice with science include an article "Money, Molecules, and Design" (Thresholds 18, Spring 1999) that reflects his ongoing interest in the science and rhetoric of "sustainable design." Arindam Dutta has taught graduate seminars on the body and the machine in modern and postmodern culture and continues to be interested in theories of the cyborg (see Gender/Feminism). Much of Stanford Anderson's thought and work stems from an introduction by Paul Feyerabend to the thought of Karl Popper and Anderson's later associations with philosopher of science Imre Lakatos. Anderson's studies of the work of Uruguayan design-build engineer Eladio Dieste explore the relations of engineering and architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2004).
Anderson, Dutta, and Jarzombek have established their careers in this field. Stanford Anderson has been identified with research on early modernism ever since his path-breaking dissertation on Peter Behrens from Columbia University in 1968, published by MIT Press in 2000 as Peter Behrens and a New Architecture for the Twentieth Century. He has worked on a range of modernist topics, including studies on Louis Kahn, vernacular architectural forms, and the history of city planning. He has also published a translation and introductory essay to an important early modernist polemical writing by Hermann Muthesius. Anderson is now collaborating on a book, Alvar Aalto and America, that grows out of an international conference he organized at MIT in 1999.
Arindam Dutta's first book, The Bureaucracy of Beauty, focuses on the late nineteenth-century English art industry and design and its relationship to informal modes of production in the metropole and the colony. Critical to his research are the ties between industry, political economy, administrative mores, and the emergent modernist aesthetic. Other work in preparation addresses the relationship between the political economic theories of land, and aesthetic notions of landscape beginning from the eighteenth century. Dutta has initiated a collaborative project on the history of MIT's "expertise" in the field of architecture and planning in the immediate post-war period. The book's key suit is to examine the manner in which the American research complex offered an alternative system of intellectual patronage which MIT architects and planners significantly appropriated; thus wittingly or unwittingly bypassing the dominant pedagogical strains of the profession produced by the late CIAM.
Mark Jarzombek has worked on projects centering on early modern German architecture and politics, and in particular on the Werkbund. An article on the fin-de-siècle Austrian theorist Joseph August Lux was in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 63/1 (June 2004). And while her focus is not on architecture per se, Caroline Jones has theorized the subject of modernity in her 2005 book Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg's Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses; the hygienic modernist subject also comes under scrutiny in her 2006 edited volume Sensorium: Embodied experience, technology, and contemporary art. HTC has had visiting faculty who work on modernist architecture to teach for one semester. These have included Beatriz Colomina, John Rajchman, Alice Friedman, Diane Ghirardo, Hélène Lipstadt and Kazys Varnelis.
Post-war and Postmodern Art and Architecture
Caroline Jones has written extensively on the subject of postmodern art and studio practices (as in Machine in the Studio, above). Her 2005 book on art writer Clement Greenberg examines his impact on postwar art, and the generation of postmodern opposition to this controversial figure. Jones also organized several monographic, survey, and/or site-specific exhibitions on postwar artists such as Frank Stella, Richard Diebenkorn, Sol LeWitt, Walter De Maria, the Bay Area Figurative group and others; these have been shown in a range of museums from the US to Japan. Her current research into biennial culture and globalism carries on a project completed for UNESCO on Nationalism and Internationalism in Modern Art (2008).
Mark Jarzombek has engaged the question of Postmodernism in his article on Robert Stern and in his book entitled the Psychologizing of Modernity (2000). He has also edited a volume on American corporate architecture after 1945 for the Journal of Architectural Education (54/1 November 2000). He continues to work on topics relating to post-WWII rebuilding in Germany expanding on his previously published work "Urban Heterology: Dresden and the Dialectics of Post-Traumatic History" in Studies in Theoretical and Applied Aesthetics (2001).
In Spring 2003, Jones and Jarzombek offered a seminar probing the disciplinary issues between postmodern art and architecture, concluding with the problems posed by the current "post-critical" condition. Stanford Anderson studies post-war architectural modernism, as in the work of Aalto, Kahn, and Dieste. He teaches a subject on architecture and criticism since 1960.
Trauma and Memory
Mark Jarzombek has worked extensively on this subject. His work is included in Trauma and Visuality in Modernity (University Press of New England, 2004) edited by Eric Rosenberg and Lisa Salzman. Jarzombek has held a seminar entitled "Traumatic Urbanism" that studied the legacies of urban destruction and the politics of memory.
Caroline Jones has also worked on this topic in her essays for UNESCO addressing the abject body in postwar European painting by Wols, Fautrier, Burri, and others; she has extended this research with an essay on the prosthetic body in Matthew Barney's Cremaster series and interrogations of the fragmented mediated body in Sensorium (2006) and for the China New Media Festival held in conjunction with the 2008 Olympics.
Stanford Anderson has published on the relation of memory to both the historiographic and professional dimensions of memory and architecture, in acknowledged major works and in vernacular architecture.
James Wescoat has published research on cultural heritage conservation, conflict, and human rights in South Asia and is teaching a class on disasters in Fall 2010. Hélène Lipstadt, an independent scholar who has taught seminars as a Visiting Professor, is a specialist on questions of memory, space, and social theory with an emphasis on Pierre Bourdieu. She has published widely on the architecture and politics of memorials.
Historiography is a central theme in the work of the HTC faculty, and sits at the core of the required methods course for graduate students in the program. Stanford Anderson has worked on the topic throughout his career, placing special emphasis on methodology and pedagogy. His first lecture and publication was a critique of the historiography of Reyner Banham. A much-cited article is his "Fiction of Function" (Assemblage 3, 1987), now in Spanish (Bitacora, Mexico City, 2008). Mark Jarzombek has published several papers on the topic of Critical Historiography as well as on the history of the architectural discipline.
Caroline Jones has written on the historiographic impact on art history of Clement Greenberg; she has also investigated "The Modernist Paradigm" of Thomas Kuhn and the October group. Kristel Smentek's central area of scholarship is the historiography of connoisseurship, with particular focus on the practices of Enlightenment print dealer and collector Pierre-Jean Mariette. Bringing to HTC considerable experience with museum work, Smentek's research is informed by an understanding of the impact of institutions and cultural agents on the writing of history.
Nasser Rabbat has written on the perception of architecture in Mamluk sources (Mamluk Studies Review, 2002), and architects in Mamluk society (JAE, 1998). He is currently working on the fifteenth-century historian al-Maqrizi for a book tentatively entitled Historicizing the City: The Significance of Maqrizi's Khitat of Cairo. Arindam Dutta is interested in the critical thrust of architectural historiography particularly in the context of theories of change articulated within different architectural manifestoes. He is also interested in comparing different historiographies as a reflection of different institutional arrangements and pedagogy in various contexts. James Wescoat is interested in the historiography of landscape research and conservation in South Asia, and particularly in the gardens and waterworks of the Mughal period. Among the various conferences that have been organized by the faculty, the conference "Architecture, Art and Cultural History" (1998) dealt directly with the question of historiography from a comparative disciplinary point of view.
The HTC faculty collectively organized "Deus (e)X Historia" in 2007, inviting 18 speakers from three continents for a two-day symposium interrogating the vexed relationship between religious accounts of the past and the positivist thrust of scientific history-writing.
Gender / Feminism
Arindam Dutta's teaching and research routinely incorporate elements of feminist theory; he is particularly interested in the manner in which terminologies of "gender" and "sex" intersect with different modes of production, a facet elucidated in his chapter "Cyborg-Artisan" in The Bureaucracy of Beauty.
Caroline Jones' scholarship investigates the construction of sexuality in technological discourses of modernism, and the instabilities that technology affords. Kristel Smentek regularly engages with representations of femininity and masculinity in her teaching. She is particularly interested in gender ambiguity and androgyny in early modern and 18th- and 19th-centruy art.
American Art and Architecture
Caroline Jones is recognized as a leading scholar in the field of modern and postmodern American art, and has worked extensively as both a curator and scholar. Her exhibition catalogues include Modern Art at Harvard and Bay Area Figurative Art, 1950-1955, as well as scholarly books on American art writer Clement Greenberg (Eyesight Alone, 2005) and an examination of post-war constructions of the American artist (Machine in the Studio, 1996/98).
Mark Jarzombek has written on post-war domestic architecture, on corporate architecture and on the Beaux-Arts tradition in America. His book on William Welles Bosworth was published in 2004, investigating this French-trained American architect responsible for MIT's original campus design from 1913.
Stanford Anderson has had a longstanding interest both in Louis Kahn and in American city planning. He has worked in particular on the urban development of Savannah, Georgia. A study of Aiken, South Carolina, appeared in Places Fall 2008.
Gail Fenske, Professor of the History of Architecture at Roger Williams whose specialty is the early modern skyscraper, has been a regular visiting faculty member. Her book The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York was recently published (University of Chicago Press, 2008). AKPIA visiting professor Jerrilynn Dodds' book, NY Masjid: The Mosques of New York (2002), studies the spaces and identities created by the diverse Muslim communities of New York.
David Friedman's research and teaching focus on Italian city planning from the 13th- through the 15th-centuries. He has taught seminars in the last years on reflections of the ancient city in European urban design and on the application of geometric survey to design. Florentine New Towns began a research program that explores the relationship between society and the city. His most recent works examine the role of architecture in the development of the urban landscape. "La Piazza di San Giovanni" published in the acts a conference that he organized with the title "Le terre nuove" (2004) looks at the transformation of a city square by its evolving functions and its architectural development. "The Florentine Mercanzia and it Palace" with Antonella Astorri (i Tatti Studies, 2005) represents a collaboration aimed at the integration of institutional and architectural history.
Stanford Anderson co-directed a research program on streets at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, under a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. One result of the program was his book, On Streets (1978). Anderson wrote the entry on Urban Morphology for the Dizionario dell'architettura del XX Secolo (Turin 2004). He is now involved in funded research in "micro-urbanism" with special attention to Chinese cities (Shanghai).
Arindam Dutta's article, "Computing Alibis: Third World Teratologies" in Perspecta 40 reflects on what the "city" might actually mean when construed as a term for intervention by certain epistemological paradigms or as fashioned by so-called "experts" as architects, urban planners and computer programmers.
The concept of "The Islamic City" is one of the main research interests of Nasser Rabbat, who regularly teaches a graduate seminar on the topic. He has several essays on various cities in the Islamic world in his book Thaqafat al Bina' wa Bina' al-Thaqafa (The Culture of Building and Building Culture) (Beirut, 2002).
Mark Jarzombek has been working on the post-war rebuildings of Dresden. A version of his work on the topic was published by the journal Studies in Theoretical and Applied Aesthetics (Spring 2001), titled, "Urban Heterology and the Dialectics of Post-Traumatic History."
Caroline Jones' book in progress, Desires for the World Picture, will investigate the complex relationship between urbanism of world fairs and biennials in relation to modern and contemporary art.
Orientalism and Postcolonialism
Postcolonialism is a principal theme in the work of Arindam Dutta and Nasser Rabbat. Dutta recently contributed a piece on labor and nineteenth century public works in a compilation entitled Constructing Colonial India, forthcoming from Oxford University Press. He has also published in the journal Grey Room an account of the 1872 assassination of the Viceroy Mayo by a Pashtun tribal, focusing on the manner in which extra-territorial considerations by elite powers might be seen to driving different forms of global governance, determining terms as mutually distant as "preservation" and tribal law as coefficients of international power. Rabbat has also worked on this topic especially in connection with his seminar on Orientalism and Representation. He recently published an essay on Hassan Fathy and the identity debate (2003) and another one on the construction of history in contemporary Arabic writing ("Le classicisme, version arabe contemporaine," Qantara, 2002).
History of Preservation
Nasser Rabbat has published three essays critiquing the preservation projects in three Arabic cities: Cairo, Damascus, and Beirut. In 1999, he led a group of 15 MIT students on a trip to evaluate and report on various restoration and conservation projects in Cairo.
Kristel Smentek's work on Pierre-Jean Mariette involves detailed conservation analysis of the drawings preserved in Mariette's important historical collection. Smentek's study of Enlightenment efforts at preservation include her research into what might, in modern terms, be understood as mutilation of original material.
James Wescoat has been involved as a consultant on various significant preservation research projects In India and Pakistan, including the Smithsonian Mughal Gardens project, the gardens of the Taj Mahal, the World Heritage Site of Champaner-Parvgadh in Gujarat and the Nagaur Rajputpalace-garden complex in Rajasthan.
Hélène Lipstadt, who has over the years held a visiting appointment at HTC, plays an important role in DOCOMOMO, and organized a session at a recent SAH Annual Meeting titled "Basic Bourdieu: architecture as a field of cultural production." Visitors to the HTC and AKPIA programs have often focused on preservation debates, as in the seminars taught by Nebahat Avcioglu ("City as Palimpsest: The Islamic City from the Pre-modern to Post-modern") and Jorge Otero-Pailos (Spring 2009).
Contemporary Aesthetic Practices and Cultural Debates
Each member of the HTC faculty, in one way or another, addresses issues that are of concern our contemporary world. Caroline Jones publishes frequently in Art Forum, with recent critical essays on Rosemarie Trockel, Olafur Eliasson, Anish Kapoor, and others. In 2002, Jones organized a conference held at Boston University and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on "Medium and its Messages," and has contributed to various museum catalogues on contemporary artists such as Eliasson and Matthew Ritchie. Stanford Anderson has continued to publish on contemporary topics, as in "Quasi-autonomy in Architecture: The search for an 'in-between'" in Perspecta (2002).
Nasser Rabbat has been a prolific contributor to Arabic newspapers and journals such as Wughat Nazar, Akhbar al-Adab, Jaridat al-Funun, al-Hayat and al-Mustaqbal. He deals with issues of cultural politics, architectural history, art and architectural criticism, and occasionally reviews books, art exhibitions, and films. Arindam Dutta has worked on the globalization of intellectual property laws and the implications for an architectural practice; he wrote a book on the radical art group Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) in India (2009).
Mark Jarzombek has published in Il Projetto ("Dresden's New Synagogue and the Problematics of Bauen," Spring 2001). And finally, in an attempt to reintroduce the question of pedagogy into debates about contemporary practices, Dutta and Jarzombek organized a conference on contemporary architectural pedagogy (held November 2003). Gwendolyn Wright, Mark Wigley, Beatriz Colomina and others gave presentations.
Word and Image
The dialectic between pictorial and linguistic signs in the history of culture is a subject of great interest to Nasser Rabbat. Rabbat has published extensively on the relationship between language and imagery in medieval Islamic cultures. He has articles on the etymology of several architectural terms and on the dominance of words in articulating medieval Islamic art. He has devoted his lectures at the Institut du monde arabe (IMA) in 2003, which came out as a book in 2004, to the interplay of word and image in early Islamic art and architecture. Caroline Jones has interrogated the role of meaningless signs in Asian contemporary art, particularly in her essay for UNESCO on the work of Xu Bing and Wenda Gu. A recent course on Islamic Calligraphy was taught by Irvin Schick, an independent researcher and published author on the subject.
Comparative Global Studies in Art and Architecture
HTC faculty explore comparative views of the arts and architectures of different cultures and contexts. The section is ideally suited for such an endeavor; with some exceptions, faculty interests and research cover significant regions of the globe.
Mark Jarzombek is co-author with Vikramaditya Prakash and Francis D. K. Ching at the University of Washington in Seattle, on a textbook of world architecture: A Global History of Architecture (Wiley & Sons 2006).
Arindam Dutta's 2007 The Bureaucracy of Beauty lays out the methodological parameters for such comparative study; he has in the past given seminars and lecture courses on the subject. More recently, on the basis of the arguments in Bureaucracy, he was commissioned to lecture in Ireland on Irish art in the early twentieth century in its nationalist period. Dutta's current project, Ancestralities: Nature, Architecture and the Debt, draws from archival sources in seven different countries: Britain, the United States, India, France, Algeria, Bangladesh and Australia.
Stanford Anderson is involved in continuing work with both the design and history faculty of Tongji University in Shanghai, and pursues research into modernism in the Latin American context.
Research by faculty and doctoral candidates in the Aga Khan Program have extended from Venice to India. James Wescoat is interested in comparative theory and method in landscape research, and has published on long-term flows of ideas and technologies of water management between the U.S. and South Asia. Caroline Jones' continuing interest in art and critical practices in Latin America, Europe, Asia and elsewhere will come into focus in her forthcoming book Desires for the World Picture. And Kristel Smentek examines cross-cultural encounters in the Enlightenment in her research on the "Turkish" painter Jean Ettienne Liotard and the reception of Asian Art in the eighteenth century Europe.
Stanford Anderson recipient of the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion in 2005 (the highest American award in architectural education), was Head of the Department of Architecture at MIT for over 13 years. In 2008 he served as the sole international observer for architecture in the extensive Research Assessment Exercise for higher education in the United Kingdom. He serves on the external review committee for the schools of architecture of the National University of Singapore, Tongji University in Shanghai, and the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. In 1999, he published an article on "Architectural History in Schools of Architecture" in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.
Mark Jarzombek and Arindam Dutta have devoted considerable scholarship to the question of architectural pedagogy, both in their practice as teachers of workshops and studios for future architects, and as theorists of the craft. Together they organized the conference "Architecture – History – Pedagogy" in 2003 and publish frequently on this topic.
Landscape and Urbanism
The School of Architecture and Planning is developing a research and teaching emphasis in the departments of Architecture and Urban Studies and Planning in what we term the emerging field of Landscape+Urbanism. The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture will be actively involved in this field, in collaboration with the City Design and Development group. James Wescoat offers seminars in HTC on Indo-Islamic landscapes, landscape heritage conservation, and historical-geographic inquiry.
A portion of Arindam Dutta's next book, Ancestralities, compares the garden designs of the British and American landowning class and the zamindari class in Bengal of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Critical here is the role of landscape as a form of socialization under different governmental regimes, for instance in the transition from the ancien regimes of Europe and Mughal feudal arrangements in India, to a new fiscal dynamics driven by the Bank of England in the eighteenth century.