MIT Architecture is shaped by MIT’s architecture. From our front door on Massachusetts Avenue, this architecture is imposing, classical, and apparently immutable. Yet the physical and intellectual innovations that MIT has produced — scientific frameworks and inventions, social and humanistic insights, new methods of thinking and making — course around the world and have remade it several times over. The resulting tension between speed and heaviness, and between lightness and gravity, is most beautifully captured in the ephemeral and enduring culture of hacking MIT’s own architecture: the illicit adornment of domes and towers with fire engines, Daleks, Lunar Landers, subway cars and Star Wars droids. While superficially vandalizing the Institute, they also serve as the best representation of its essential, improbable identity.
Below the roofline, MIT’s architecture is largely given over to labs and shops — places in which things are measured, charted, discovered, and optimized. But our discipline is also profoundly shaped by irrational creativity and inescapable political realities. Creativity, history, politics and technology are all present at MIT, but in this Department, they live, work, and invent together.
The organizational architecture of our department reflects this reality. Groups of faculty in the arts, design and urbanism, computation, building technology, and history and theory, are all amongst the very best of the world, and organize themselves into discipline groups to serve groups of advanced students. Our undergraduate and professional degrees connect these groups, as our faculty work together to model architecture’s unique integration of diverse modes of thinking and making.
Today, we are turning these tools to the contradictions inherent in MIT’s architecture and history. The Institute’s foundation and historic leadership are closely linked to the slave economy. MIT’s endowment was seeded, along with that of 52 other universities, with the proceeds from the sale of 79,461 parcels of indigenous land, the sale of which dispossessed members of nearly 250 tribes, bands and communities across the United States. Even today — at least until a current discussion on renaming is concluded —one of the Institute’s most public buildings memorializes Francis Amasa Walker, former MIT President and the architect of the American Indian Reservation System. In this context, and particularly in the last year, MIT Architecture has committed itself to building an anti-racist and inclusive institution in our hiring and admissions processes, in our teaching, and in the community we create in our classrooms, labs, and studios.
This commitment is particularly essential in the larger context of the climate crisis. Like our current pandemic, the effects of our accelerating climate emergency unevenly burden the least wealthy, least privileged, and most vulnerable members of our global community. Architecture has been complicit in many of the problems and decisions that have caused our climate crisis. It must play a central role in shared solutions as well.
As MIT reckons with its own history, and the challenge of creating a more inclusive and sustainable future, MIT Architecture is imagining new physical architecture of its own; working with colleagues across the School of Architecture and Planning, as well as architects Leers Weinzapfel and Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, we are re-imagining the former Metropolitan Storage Warehouse as a design hub for MIT. With community-focused spaces and public galleries, and adjacent and interconnected spaces for research and teaching, a new architecture for the department will frame our most essential, contemporary mission: connecting design, research, and creativity to diverse communities and the urgent issues of our time.
About the Department
The Department of Architecture is one of five divisions within the MIT School of Architecture + Planning. The other divisions are: the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; the Media Lab and its Program in Media Arts and Sciences; the Program in Art, Culture, and Technology; the Center for Real Estate; and the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism.
The Department is structured in five discipline groups: Architecture + Urbanism; Building Technology; Computation; History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art; and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.
The Department houses thirty-seven permanent faculty, of whom three are under-represented minorities and fifteen are women. Across this past year, we were joined by another twenty-three visiting faculty, lecturers, and instructors across our curriculum. Twenty researchers help staff our labs and workshops.
In 2021, we housed 175 Master’s students across our MArch and Master of Science degrees, 56 PhD students, and many hundreds of undergraduates across our courses, including 20 Architecture Majors, 15 Art and Design Majors, and 51 Minors. Our population of 317 students is a balance of 53% US, and 47% international students, representing over 45 countries.
Graduate students number 231, with 131 women and 100 men. The undergraduate students number 35, with about 21 women and 10 men, and 3 unspecified. 28% of our US-based graduate students and 17% of our US-based undergraduates identify as POC.
We are engaging this year in new actions to increase the diversity of our student population and to create an environment that welcomes, includes, and empowers all members of our community. These include new initiatives in outreach, admissions, mentorship, and equity within the Department. Details of these efforts, and our conversations about them, can be found in the News section of this website.
The Review at MIT Architecture: Values and Goals
The review is a core space of architectural culture, and an expression of our culture as a Department. As well as an important moment for students to engage with each other, faculty, and professionals, it is a place where essential values and ideas of the discipline get discussed and demonstrated through the lens of student work. We enact the values of our community in the form and character of that discussion—in its openness, transparency, and quality – and with underlying tenets of respect, courtesy, equity and inclusion.
Graduate Student Aid
Graduate student aid is the highest fund-raising priority of the Department of Architecture. Aid is crucial to attracting the best graduate students because few outside grant opportunities exist for master's and doctoral students in this field.
Department of Architecture Unrestricted
This fund allows the Department of Architecture the flexibility to invest as needed to create an optimal academic experience for students and faculty.
Lawrence B. Anderson '30 Fellowship Fund
This fund honors our beloved former dean who himself contributed immeasurably both to architecture and education.
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