9/29/2018: 150 Years of MIT Architecture: Detroit Design Tour

On Saturday September 29, 2018, a perfect fall afternoon—brisk and bright—embraced the 25-plus participants who registered for the Detroit Design Tour. The event, jointly sponsored by MITArchA and the MIT Club of Southeasst Michigan was organized to celebrate the 150th anniversary of MIT Architecture during Detroit’s annual “Month of Design”.  Three Course IV alumni tour guides, Robert Ziegelman, AIA, M.Arch ’59; Constance Bodurow, Assoc. AIA, AICP, CUD, SMArchS ’91; and Noah Resnick, RA, SMArchS, ’04—all of whom are practicing in Detroit, led the 5.25 mile walking tour of significant downtown architecture and urbanism, emphasizing the roles MIT alumni played in the city’s built environment. A mix of Course 2, 4, 6, and 13 participants began at the Detroit Riverfront, the site of Detroit’s First Nations/European founding and recent focus of extensive public realm investments.

Alumni participants were guided  through seven stops, including: the Renaissance Center; the Financial District (featuring Art Deco treasures including the Guardian Building); the former Hudson’s site on Woodward Avenue (currently under redevelopment by Quicken Loans/Rock Financial and soon to feature the tallest building in Michigan); and concluding at Lafayette Park (the largest collection of Mies van der Rohe designed buildings in North America).

The tour concluded with a refreshment stop at local restaurant Gather in Eastern Market, which provided participants with a chance to relax and gain insight into smaller scale, yet no less important, revitalization projects in Detroit. MIT Club of Southeast Michigan President (and official event photographer!) Isaac In-Soo Suh expressed the consensus, stating: “this tour was full of surprises with excitement discovering Detroit history and architectural beauty.”  Organizers expressed their hopes for repeating similar joint events in the future!

10/23/2018: Accelerating Innovation: DesignX @ MIT

On October 23, 2018 over seventy MIT alumni and guests came to downtown Manhattan to hear a series of presentations from leaders and graduates of DesignX, a startup incubator housed within MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning.

The event was held at the Financial District offices of Arup, a renowned building engineering consultancy with over 12,000 employees worldwide. The event began with an introduction by Alessandra Vecchiarelli, SM ’13, M.Eng ’15, a tunneling engineer with Arup and the host for the event. She thanked attendees for coming and gave a brief introduction to Arup and its legacy. Kenneth Namkung, M.Arch ’03, Vice President of the MIT Club of New York, local representative for MITArchA, and the coordinator of the event then took the podium to say a few words. He described the DesignX program as existing at the intersection of technology, innovation, and design, and noted that this intersection could only exist at an interdisciplinary institution like MIT.

Gilad Rosenzweig MCP ’13, Executive Director of DesignX gave the first talk. He began his presentation by discussing the history of entrepreneurship at MIT, noting that alumni-founded companies generate over 9 trillion dollars in revenue annually. He explained: the structure of the DesignX program; its relationships with industry partners; and its larger academic and research framework. He described some of the program’s recent success stories and its collaborations on campus.

Attendees then saw presentation from three New York and Boston-based companies that were nurtured by the DesignX program. Larissa Ovalles SM ’16 presented the work of PrepHub, which creates urban infrastructure that helps communities deal with natural disasters. Stephanie Lee M.Arch ’19 presented Spaceus, which converts vacant buildings into collaborative workspaces for artists, and Arlene Ducao SM ’13 spoke about the work of Multimer, a location analytics system that supports human-centered spatial design and decision-making.

After the talk ended, the presenters returned to the stage for a question-and-answer session. Attendees asked many thoughtful questions, ending the evening on a high note.

Ann Beha FAIA M.Arch '75 receives 2018 BSA Award of Honor


Anne Beha, FAIA (MArch '75), received the Boston Society of Architects/AIA Award of Honor for her outstanding lifetime contributions to architecture and to the profession.

Beha founded Ann Beha Architects 40 years ago to focus on the potential of preservation and adaptive reuse in revitalizing cities and communities.

Ann Beha has been Design Principal for honored projects at the University of Chicago, Princeton University, Cornell University Law School, and MIT. Her civic projects include the United States Embassy in Athens, Greece, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. She is currently Design Principal for Yale’s new Center for Humanities and for wide-ranging projects for the performing and visual arts, education, and civic resources.

A graduate of Wellesley College, Ann Beha received a Master of Architecture Degree from MIT, was a Loeb Fellow at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Design at the City College of New York. She is a writer and lecturer, member of Harvard University’s Design Advisory Council, serves on the Industry Advisory Group for the US Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, and is the BSA representative to the Citizens Advisory Commission for the Back Bay Station South End Development.

Learn more about her work at annbeha.com.

Kathy Chia M.Arch '91 and Arjun Desai M.Arch '92 Featured in the New York Times

Article reposted from the New York Times. Original article here. Photos by Eric Striffler.

Growing up near Buffalo, N.Y., Jonathan Yellen cherished his family’s annual pilgrimage to the beach. “We’d throw everybody into the station wagon, drive out to Cape Cod, stay in a little two- or three-bedroom cottage a block from the beach, have a phenomenal time and come back sunburned a couple weeks later,” he said. “That’s a really resonant memory for me.”

It was a tradition that Mr. Yellen — who is now 51 and lives in Dallas with his wife, Marianna, 42, and daughters Olivia, 13, and Natalie, 11 — was intent on continuing.

“When Marianna and I got together, one of our early conversations about hopes and dreams was about being able to have something like that for our kids,” he said. “It’s important to me, and she totally got it.”

As a successful lawyer, he had the resources to go one step further and build his own beach house. The question was where.

So every summer for several years, the family went on what Mr. Yellen called “an annual shopping spree” — renting in various places to audition different beaches. “We did Cape Cod, Kiawah, Nantucket, La Jolla and East Hampton,” he said.

It was Montauk that won them over. “I don’t think there’s a nicer beach in the United States,” he said, adding that they were also taken with the easygoing vibe. “Montauk is very real.”

During a visit in 2015, they bought a termite-ravaged 1960s cottage a block from the beach for $975,000, with plans to tear it down and build anew. Then Mr. Yellen contacted Katherine Chia, a schoolmate from Amherst College who had become an architect and co-founded the New York firm Desai Chia Architecture. Although he and Ms. Chia hadn’t spoken in decades, Mr. Yellen had seen her work online and was impressed.

The Yellens drew up a long list of things they wanted in their house: low-maintenance materials, privacy from the street, separate studies, an oversized kitchen where they could entertain without bumping into guests, a shading strategy to reduce sudden changes in light (Ms. Yellen has a sensitivity that can cause headaches), a space the children could call their own, and an overall sense of peace.

The architects came back with a proposal that satisfied those requests in part by taking inspiration from the artists James Turrell, Ellsworth Kelly and Louise Nevelson. “The James Turrell references were really about Marianna’s sensitivity to light, and thinking about how to modulate the light,” Ms. Chia said. “With Ellsworth Kelly and Louise Nevelson, it was about chiaroscuro, and this back and forth in the facade, with dense areas versus airy moments.”

Mr. Yellen was delighted by the conceptual approach. “They kept us from getting overly suburban or conventional,” he said.

The final design was for a four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom house built to the maximum size allowed on the lot — 2,950 square feet — with outdoor living space on patios and decks that would make it feel larger.

The lower level of the house, which is cast-concrete, has three bedrooms and a family room that are largely the domain of the children. The upper level is clad in shou-sugi-ban boards, inside and out, for the look of wood that has weathered with age. Tough, end-grain wood floors and Caesarstone counters in the kitchen are intended to be worry-free, no matter how much sand is dragged inside or tomato sauce is spilled.

The architects designed a large kitchen using worry-free materials like end-grain wood flooring and Caesarstone counters.

Upstairs, the master suite and studies are in the back of the house, with the living room, dining area and kitchen at the front, looking out over wetlands through floor-to-ceiling, sliding glass doors that open onto a covered deck. “It’s almost like a treehouse experience, where you’re up in the branches,” Ms. Chia said.

To save energy, windows and a central stairwell were designed to take advantage of natural ventilation, and the roof is equipped with a solar array large enough to power the house. Aran Construction began building the house in January 2017 and finished last October, at a cost of about $2.5 million.

The Yellens spent all of this past summer there — walking the beach, practicing yoga and watching Olivia become an avid surfer — and they plan to continue using the house throughout the year.

“This is a long-term family house,” Mr. Yellen said. “We can grow older in it, and be in other places as well, but for those critical times of the year” — like Thanksgiving, which they are looking forward to — “it will draw our family together. That’s part of the cleverness of the design.”

Priyanka Shah SMArchS, MCP '08 wins Lawrence B. Anderson Award

Reposted from sap.mit.edu. Original article here.

Priyanka Shah SMArchS, MCP '08 has received the 2017 Lawrence B. Anderson Award for her research proposal, "The Architecture of the Deal: Excavating forces behind architectural form in the largest urban projects in New York and Paris.” The award will support Shah’s investigation of local development deals, zoning regulations, financing mechanisms, and the difference between welfare and pro-market governance to locate relationships between these drivers and the resulting architecture of two neighborhoods: Hudson Yards and Clichy Batignolles.

Priyanka Shah works as an architect in New York City. Her research interests include the work of the French modernist Roger Anger, for which she received the Deborah J. Norden Fund Grant from the Architectural League of New York, and the relationship of urban form to social conditions, which she will pursue as part of her Anderson Award research. She also serves as a New York Chapter Steward for The Architecture Lobby.

The Lawrence B. Anderson Award was established in the spring of 1987, in honor of the former dean of the School of Architecture and Planning (1965-1971), to be presented every other year in support of creative documentation as a valuable form of learning. The endowment fund was initiated by two of Anderson’s former students, I. M. Pei ‘40 AR and William E. Hartmann ‘39 AR, as a lasting tribute to their teacher. Project documentation for each winner can be found in the Rotch Library and Visual Collections

07/19/2018: MITArchA Visit to the National Academy of Sciences

On July 17, 2018, over thirty MIT alumni, guests, and friends signed with MITArchA, AMITA, and the MIT Club of Washington DC to attend a unique event at the National Academy of Sciences. The event included: a tour of the building and the exhibitions, an outdoor film screening, and a scavenger hunt. The group met at the bronze Einstein statue on Constitution Avenue.

The National Academy of Sciences was established under Abraham Lincoln in 1863 as a private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars. There are many connections between MIT and the NAS including a number of key persons such as Charles Vest, the former MIT president who served as the president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The National Academy of Sciences building was designed in 1924 by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, business partner of Ralph Adams Cram, professor and chairman of Architecture at MIT. The building was expanded under the aegis of Harrison and Abramovitz, with an auditorium featuring advanced acoustic design by Cyril Harris who was later involved in the Metropolitan Opera, the Kennedy Center, and the Lincoln Theater. 

Attendees were able to view many exhibitions in the Academy of Sciences, including Aquahoya, developed by the MIT Media Lab. After the tour there was a scavenger hunt and an outdoor screening of the 1974 science fiction film Westworld, featuring Yul Brynner.

06/22/2018: 150 Years of Course IV: NYC Preview Event at the New Museum

 On June 22, 2018, the MIT Club of New York joined forces with MITArchA (MIT Architecture Alumni) and the Department of Architecture to celebrate the upcoming 150th anniversary of Architecture at MIT. Scheduled to coincide with the 2018 AIA Conference on Architecture, this event was held at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Over 140 alumni from class years ranging from 1955 to 2018 were in attendance.

Jacob Kain, M.Arch ’00, President of MITArchA, kicked off the event with a brief introduction. He introduced MITArchA, explained its history and reason for being, and encouraged attendees to engage with the Department and their alumni colleagues. Kenneth Namkung, M.Arch ’03 (board member of MITArchA and a VP of the Club of New York) spoke briefly about the alumni community, describing MITArchA as a new but powerful force within the alumni universe. He touched on the storied history of Course IV, noting that its graduates include: the first African-American architect in history, the first professional female architect in America, and two Pritzer Prize winners amongst its alumni before introducing Department Head J. Meejin Yoon.

Professor Yoon began her talk by discussing Course IV’s founding under William Robert Ware, the philosophy that guided those early years, and the Department’s tradition of progressiveness and activism. She described the Institute as an open and generous place that rewards risk-taking, spoke about its commitment to improving the built environment, and discussed the social and environmental values that undergird design education at MIT. Professor Yoon encouraged alumni to attend the upcoming 150th anniversary-related events in Cambridge, including: Experiments in Pedagogy, an exhibition at the MIT Museum, and a symposium on design and research.

Associate Professor Ana Miljacki then took the stand to discuss the Master of Architecture program. She discussed the size of the program—there are about 100 M.Arch students at any time, with an incoming class of between 24 to 30 students. The applicant pool has grown steadily in recent years, and the admissions rate is currently about 10%. In addition, the incoming class now has more women than men. Miljacki discussed the curriculum itself—it is split into Core Studios, which emphasize different entries into architecture as a vocation, and Research Studios, which explore a variety of experimental topics.

Mark Jarzombek, Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture, then took the stand to discuss the structure and ethos of the Department, stating that the Institute supports long and productive careers through the tenure process. The Department currently has 38 tenured faculty (attaining tenure at MIT is not easy), creating an enduring academic community that has helped propel MIT Architecture to a #1 ranking worldwide.

Associate Professor Skylar Tibbits then spoke about his work within the Department, beginning with his work in undergraduate education, describing his role in the BSAD program, as well as his efforts in creating the Design Minor, which reaches undergraduate students from all disciplines. Tibbits then discussed his research group, the Self-Assembly Lab, which works in “programmable materials”. He showed a number of innovative studio and research projects including: 4D Printing (customizable smart materials), Rock Printing, which combines robotically assembled textiles and granular materials to create self-supporting dry masonry structures, and a design studio which focused on rapidly deployable structures for extreme environments.

A number of accomplished local alumni then came to the stage to discuss the impact of the Department on their careers and personal lives. Speakers including: Marcel Botha, SMArchS ’06, Elliot Felix, M.Arch ’06, Mimi Hoang ’93, Scott Lawin ’93, and Andrea Lamberti ’91, gave engaging, insightful, and deeply personal stories about the role that Course IV played in their lives and careers. Professor Yoon then returned to the stage to present awards to other local alumni, including: I.M. Pei ’40, Richard Dattner ’60, Nico Kienzl, SMBT ’99, and William Pederson, M.Arch ’64. After the event ended, the festivities continued with an after-party on a rooftop on the Lower East Side.





Mackenzie Muhonen (MArch ’19) awarded 2018 Kohn Pederson Fox Traveling Fellowship

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Article reposted from architecture.mit.edu. Read original article here.

Please join us in congratulating Mackenzie Muhonen (MArch ’19), one of three recipients of the 2018 Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF) Traveling Fellowship for her portfolio and proposal, "Learning from Love Motels: The Semiotics of a Civic Bedroom." Muhonen will travel to five cities in Brazil during a five-week trip this summer.

“Love motels are a ubiquitous architectural typology in Brazilian cities. A stop at the motel—or moteis for plural— is as commonplace as a visit to the market,” writes Muhonen. “As an urban system, the love motel generates a tectonic visibility that lacks scholarship.” Following Lauro Cavalcanti and Dinah Guimaraens’s seminal text, Arquitetura de Moteis Cariocas: Espaço e Organização Social, Muhonen will survey the semiotic language of Brazilian love motels.

Muhonen’s research in Brazil is the subject of her M.Arch thesis project in Fall 2017. “The goal is to offer a new reading of the Brazilian city, as predicated on an architecture of human desire, escapism, and the absurd,” she states. 

Muhonen studied Architectural History, Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to MIT, she spent a year in Brazil as a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro. View her portfolio submission for the Fellowship.

Previous recipients of the KPF Traveling Fellowship include Hoi Lung Damian Chan (MArch 2009), T. Buck Sleeper (MArch 2010), and Erioseto Hendranata (MArch 2014). Dennis (Hoi Kwan) Cheung and Alan Lu (MArch 2013) received an Honorable Mention in 2012, and Maya Shopova (MArch 2018) received an Honorable Mention in 2017. 

The other two winners of the 2018 fellowships are Eric Hsu (Rice University) and Eduardo Martinez-Mediero Rubio (Harvard GSD).This year’s jury included Andrea Simitch, Chair of the Department of Architecture at Cornell; Kiel Moe, Associate Professor of Architecture and Energy at Harvard GSD; Inaqui Carnicero of Columbia University GSAPP and Rica Studio; and Hana Kassem and Rob Whitlock, Principals at KPF.

Each year, KPF awards three travel grants to students in their penultimate year at one of 26 design schools in the United States. Winners of the annual competition are selected by portfolio review. The goal of the award is to allow students to broaden their education through a summer of travel before their final year at school. Each winner receives $10,000 in support of their travels.

Leslie Lok, M. Arch ’11 and Sasa Zivkovic, M. Arch ’12 announced as winners of 2018 Folly/Function Competition

Leslie Lok, M. Arch ’11 and Sasa Zivkovic, M. Arch ’12, co-principals of HANNAH Architecture and Design, and faculty at Cornell University, produced the winning proposal for the 2018 edition of Folly/Function, an annual juried design/build competition for architects and designers.

Their proposal, titled RRRolling Stones, is a moveable outdoor seating system made from 3D-printed concrete and uses the standard ergonomics of a functional chair to create durable, mobile outdoor seating. RRRolling Stones are designed for all-season use and may be rotated to reveal new seating profiles or tumbled across the Park’s landscape by users. Their playful design encourages creative interaction and emboldens park visitors to configure them in original arrangements based on preference and need.

The RRRolling Stones seating was prototyped and 3D-printed at the Cornell Robotic Construction Laboratory in Ithaca, New York. Executed in layers of a special cement mixture reinforced with nylon fibers, the seats’ striated surfaces reveal their incremental manufacturing process. During printing, the seats’ interior is supported with a bed of gravel, enabling the creation of their cantilevered forms. A layer of gravel remains imprinted on each chair’s interior surface, giving it a geologic character. This innovative production process begets a distinct aesthetic layered with rousing and unanticipated associations.

Their proposal was selected from a group of international submissions by a jury of leaders in the fields of architecture and design.

Learn more here: https://archleague.org/competition/folly-function-2018/


HANNAH is an experimental design practice for speculative and built projects across scales, addressing subjects of architecture and urbanism. The office, led by Leslie Lok and Sasa Zivkovic, focuses on contemporary building practices and utilizes specialized novel material and fabrication methods. HANNAH’s object of inquiry is material, process, and construction.

Learn more at http://hannah-office.org/

Coryn Kempster, M.Arch ’08, wins 2018 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers

Coryn Kempster, M.Arch ’08, co-founder of Coryn Kempster Julia Jamrozik and adjunct assistant professor of architecture at SUNY-Buffalo, was announced as one of the winners of the 2018 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, intended to foster up-and-coming architectural and design talent. The 2018 theme, Objective, asked entrants to examine the role of objectivity in contemporary society.

Kempster received a BA from the University of Toronto and an MArch degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduating from MIT in 2008, he gained professional experience as an architect at Herzog & de Meuron and a Project Director at Harry Gugger Studio in Switzerland before founding his own office in 2014.

Currently located in Buffalo and Toronto, Coryn Kempster Julia Jamrozik endeavours to create spaces, objects and situations that interrupt the ordinary in critically engaging and playful ways. Together they have won numerous competitions and have exhibited and published in Canada, the US, Germany, France, Italy and South Korea, including solo shows at Vtape and Convenience Gallery in Toronto.

Learn more via the Architectural League website: