The Design and Computation Group inquires into the varied nature and practice of computation in architectural design, and the ways in which design meaning, intentions, and knowledge are constructed through computational thinking, representing, sensing, and making. We focus on the development of innovative computational tools, processes and theories, and the application of these in creative, socially meaningful responses to challenging design problems.
Faculty, research staff, and students work in diverse and mutually supportive areas including: visualization, digital fabrication and construction processes and technologies, shape representation and synthesis, building information modeling (BIM), generative and parametric design, critical studies of digital and information technologies, digital heritage, and software and hardware development of advanced tools for spatial design and analysis. Our aim is to cover the many facets of a rapidly changing and growing area with in-depth, agenda-setting research and teaching.
Our work is informed simultaneously by architectural practice as well as a variety of other disciplinary perspectives including mathematics, computer science, cognitive science, philosophy, anthropology, STS (Science, Technology, and Society), media studies, and art. Students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the interdisciplinary environment of MIT, and to take subjects and participate in research across different MIT departments to explore and develop their interests. They are expected to acquire both the technical skills and the theoretical and conceptual foundations to rethink and challenge the limits of current design processes and practices, and to consider the social and cultural implications of their positions.
This area of study offers a concentration in the Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS) program and a doctoral (PhD) program. Please go to the Design and Computation Group's list of Dissertations and Theses to see the work done at the culmination of the degree programs.
The PhD program is broadly conceived around computational ideas as they pertain to the description, generation, and construction of architectural form. Issues range from the mathematical foundations of the discipline to the application and extension of advanced computer technology. The mission of the program is to enhance and enrich design from a computational perspective, with clear implications for practice and teaching.
Faculty, research staff, and students work in diverse but overlapping and mutually supportive areas. Work on shape representation, generative and parametric design is directed at a new computational basis for design. Work on digital modeling and rendering seeks to extend the possibilities of visualizing design ideas and un-built work, as well as to improve architectural design practice where designers and technical collaborators are geographically separated. Work on rapid prototyping and CAD/CAM technologies aims to expand design possibilities through the physical modeling of design ideas, and to revolutionize the construction and building phase of architectural practice.
Research employs computational media for the representation and use of design knowledge. Faculty, research staff, and students associated with the group combine education in architecture and urban design with education in computer graphics, art, mathematics, and other fields.
The minimum residency requirement for the PhD degree is two years and it is expected that most students will take no more than five years to complete the degree.
Each student will be assigned a faculty advisor in Computation upon admission. The advisor will consult on the student's initial plan of study and on the choice of subjects in subsequent terms. He or she will assist the student in selecting an advisory committee and subsequently a dissertation committee. Often, but not always, the faculty advisor becomes the dissertation committee chair if the student so desires.
Doctoral Research Opportunity in Computation and Advanced Urbanism
The Norman B. Leventhal Center of Advanced Urbanism and Departments of Architecture and Urban Studies and Planning have established a collaborative doctoral-level concentration in Advanced Urbanism. Urbanism is a rapidly growing field that has many branches. At MIT, we speak of Advanced Urbanism as the field which integrates research on urban design, urbanization and urban culture.
The concentration in Advanced Urbanism seeks doctoral applicants (one to two per year) who have: 1) at least one professional design degree (in architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, etc.); 2) research interests in urbanism that would draw upon both ARCH and DUSP faculty advising; and 3) a commitment to engage with the research community at the LCAU and within their home department throughout their time at MIT. Applicants should apply for admission to an existing ARCH or DUSP PhD program and must meet all specific admissions requirements of the respective PhD program. Admissions committees nominate applicants who fit the urbanism program to a joint advanced urbanism admissions committee. The selected applicants are admitted by their home department discipline group (DUSP; AKPIA, BT, Computation, HTC) with financial support and research assistantships from LCAU.
Prospective students with questions pertaining to the doctoral studies in Advanced Urbanism should reach out to their prospective home doctoral program and to LCAU doctoral committee members: Rafi Segal and Brent Ryan. Or to the mailing list firstname.lastname@example.org. See links at top for program-specific information.
The Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS) is a two-year program of advanced study founded on research and inquiry in architecture as a discipline and as a practice. The program is intended both for students who already have a professional degree in architecture and those interested in advanced non-professional graduate study.
SMArchS in Computation
The Computation Group inquires into the varied nature and practice of computation in architectural design, and the ways in which design meaning, intention, and knowledge are constructed through sensing, thinking, and making computationally. It focuses on the development of innovative computational tools, processes and theories, and applying these in creative, socially meaningful responses to challenging design problems.