Rania Ghosn

Rania Ghosn is an Associate Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at MIT School of Architecture + Planning and founding partner of the practice DESIGN EARTH with El Hadi Jazairy.  

Rania's research engages the territories of technological systems to address aesthetic and political concerns for architecture and urbanism in the age of the environment. Her scholarship integrates geography in a design methodology that brings together spatial history, geographic representation, speculative design, and public assemblies. She is co-author of Geographies of Trash (Actar, 2015) and Geostories: Another Architecture for the Environment (Actar, 2018). The design research publication Geographies of Trash charts the system of trash management across scales to propose five speculative projects that reclaim the forms, technologies, economies, and logistics of waste in the production of urbanism. The recently published Geostories is a manifesto for an environmental imagination that renders sensible issues of climate change through geographic fiction on technological externalities, such as oil extraction, deep-sea mining, ocean acidification, water shortage, air pollution, space debris, and a host of other social-ecological issues.

Her practice DESIGN EARTH explores aesthetic forms of environmental engagement–notably the architectural drawing, exhibition, and publication–to visualize how technological systems change the Earth and to speculate on ways of living with legacy geographies, such as oil fields and landfills. Through a series of sponsored research projects, award-winning international competition entries, and biennial commissions, they have developed a distinct aesthetic design research method. DESIGN EARTH was commissioned to contribute to Venice Architecture Biennale–US Pavilion and Kuwait Pavilion, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, Boston Design Biennale, Oslo Architecture Triennale, Sharjah Biennial. They also contributed to exhibitions, including Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon; Sursock Museum, Beirut; Times Museum, Guangzhou; Le Lieu Unique, Nantes and Milano Triennale. Their work was also presented in many university galleries, including solo shows at Cooper Union Houghton Gallery and MIT Keller Gallery, with the related Two Cosmograms exhibition catalog (MIT SA+P, 2016). The drawings for After Oil were acquired by the architecture collection of  the New York  Museum of Modern Art. The project Of Oil and Ice was selected for the Met Museum’s symposium on the most exciting and critical spatial projects of the year.

Her work is widely recognized, including the New York Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, Boghossian Prize, and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Faculty Design Awards for outstanding work in architecture and related environmental design fields as a critical endeavor. Her practice has also received Jacques Rougerie Foundation’s First Prize for "Neck of the Moon," and numerous honorable mentions, including Architect's Newspaper Best of Design Awards in Representation–digital and analog. Her research has been funded by Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, University of Michigan Research on the City, Fay Chandler Faculty Creativity Seed Grant.

A founding editor of the New Geographies journal, Rania edited NG2: Landscapes of Energy (Harvard GSD, 2010), which makes the case for energy as a spatial project and argues that the planning for energy transitions should examine and respond to the landscapes of the current fossil fuel system. Her current book project, Geographies of Oil across the Middle East, traces the biography of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, a transnational oil transport infrastructure, to document territorial transformations associated with the region’s incorporation into a global fossil fuel economy. Her essays and projects have been published in Perspecta, Volume, DomusAvery ReviewJournal of Architectural Education, New Geographies, ARQ, San Rocco, MONU, Science Fiction StudiesThresholds, [bracket] and as chapters in edited anthologies on infrastructure, energy, and regionalism, such as Architecture and Representation: The Arab City (Columbia GSAPP, 2016), Energy Accounts: Architectural Representations of Energy, Climate, and the Future (Routledge, 2016), and Infrastructure Space (Ruby Press, 2017). 

Her interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching is shaped in part by her academic formation in architecture, urbanism,­ and geography­. She holds a Doctor of Design from Harvard University, Master in Geography from University College London, and a Bachelor of Architecture from American University of Beirut. Prior to joining Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rania was Assistant Professor at University of Michigan (2011-2014), which she joined after a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Boston University.