MIT School of Architecture and Planning

MIT School of Architecture and Planning
Type Private
Established 1865 (first courses taught) 1932 (MITSAP established)
Dean Hashim Sarkis
Academic staff
Students 408
150 (Architecture)
56 (Urban Planning)
189 (Media Lab)
9 (Arts, Culture and Technology)
Location Infinite Corridor, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Campus Urban
Affiliations MIT

The MIT School of Architecture and Planning is one of the five schools of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Founded in 1865 by William Robert Ware, the School offered the first formal architectural curriculum in the United States, and the first architecture program in the world, operating within the establishment of a University. The school is considered a global academic leader in the design fields.

The current Dean of Architecture and Planning is Hashim Sarkis.[1]

In the 20th century, the School came to be known as a leader in introducing modernism to America. MIT has a history of commissioning progressive buildings, many of which were designed by faculty or former students associated with the School. In recent years, the Campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has commissioned a mix of modernist and post-modernist buildings.[2][3]



Architecture was first taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1868. Architecture was the 4th course of study in the history of the university. In 1932, when the president of MIT, Karl T. Compton, reorganized the Institute's academic structure, the School of Architecture was established, incorporating the Department of Architecture. The head of the Department of Architecture, William Emerson, became the first dean of the School of Architecture.


Urban Studies and Planning was originally a department of the School of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The City Planning course was first offered in September 1933.[4]

In 1944 the school was renamed the School of Architecture and Planning. In 1947, the Department of City and Regional Planning was established, which was renamed the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) in 1969.

Media Lab

Main article: MIT Media Lab

The idea for the Media Lab came into being in 1980 by Professor Nicholas Negroponte and former MIT President and Science Advisor to President John F. Kennedy, Jerome Wiesner. The Lab grew out of the work of MIT's Architecture Machine Group, and remains within MIT's School of Architecture and Planning.

Devoted to research projects at the convergence of multimedia and technology, the Media Lab was widely popularized in the 1990s by business and technology publications such as Wired and Red Herring for a series of innovative but practical inventions in the fields of wireless networks, field sensing, web browsers and the World Wide Web. The Media Lab works primarily on the question of physical-virtual interface. As Negroponte envisioned it, interface has become an architectural problem. There have been numerous notable research spinoffs growing out of the Media Lab including One Laptop per Child (OLPC), Electronic Ink and LEGO Mindstorms.

Visual Arts

The Program for Art, Culture and Technology (ACT), housed within the Department of Architecture, was created in the summer of 2009 by the merger of the Visual Arts Program (VAP) and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS). The CAVS, now the ACT Fellows program, was founded in 1968 with György Kepes as the director. The CAVS had the goal of encouraging collaboration among artists, scientists, and engineers, and it served as a precursor to the MIT Media Lab decades later. The successor ACT Fellows program is still held in high regard as a research center for practicing artists.

Center for Real Estate

The MIT Center for Real Estate was established in 1983 with the aim of improving the quality of the built environment. An intensive one-year program leads to a Master of Science in Real Estate degree.[5]

Deans of MIT School of Architecture and Planning

Dean Tenure Career
William Emerson 1932-1939 Architect
Walter R. MacCornack 1939-1944 Architect
William R. Wurster 1944-1950 Architect
Pietro Belluschi 1950-1965 Architect
Lawrence B. Anderson 1965-1971 Architect
William L. Porter 1972-1981 Architect
John de Monchaux 1981-1992 Architect and Urban Planner
William J. Mitchell 1992-2003 Architect and Urban Designer
Adèle Naudé Santos 2004-2014 Architect
Mark Jarzombek Interim Dean, July – December 2014 Architecture Historian
Hashim Sarkis 2015-present Architect and Urban Designer



The Department of Architecture is divided into five main research areas: Architectural Design; Building Technology; Design and Computation; History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art (for which MIT was the first to establish such a program); and the Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) program. Further, there are three special research groups: Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (in partnership with Harvard University), the Center for Real Estate and the Special Interest Group in Urban Settlements.

The Department offers several degrees, including:

The department is currently led by Meejin Yoon.

Media Laboratory

The MIT Media Lab Program in Media Arts and Sciences (MAS) offers two degrees

Urban Studies and Planning

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) has four specialization areas: City Design and Development; Environmental Policy; Housing, Community and Economic Development; and the International Development Group. There are also three cross-cutting areas of study: Transportation Planning and Policy; Urban Information Systems (UIS); and Regional Planning.

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning offers the following degrees

Center for Real Estate

The MIT Center for Real Estate was established in 1983 with the aim of improving the quality of the built environment. An intensive one-year program leads to a Master of Science in Real Estate degree.

Financial support

A substantial portion of the annual budget, which supports half tuition and full-tuition scholarships in addition to the school's costs, is generated through donations from alumni in both the public and the private sector. Students also have the opportunity to be fully funded when traveling abroad through MISTI.


In 2016 MIT was placed 1st on QS World University Rankings ranking of design programs in the world. In 2017 DesignIntelligence ranked the MArch program 2nd. The program's ten-year average ranking, places it 4th, overall, on DesignIntelligence's ranking of programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.

Research, Projects & Partnerships

In addition to its degree programs, MIT administers research initiatives in design, technology, history and structure. The school publishes the annual peer-reviewed journal Thresholds, and Building Discourse, and other design books and studio works.


MIT@Lawrence is a partnership between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), several Lawrence, Massachusetts-based community organizations, and the City of Lawrence. The partnership is aimed at facilitating affordable housing development, building community assets, and improving youth pathways to advancement. It is funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

MIT Senseable City Lab

The MIT Senseable City Laboratory aims to investigate and anticipate how digital technologies are changing the way people live and their implications at the urban scale. Director Carlo Ratti founded the Senseable City Lab in 2004 within the City Design and Development group at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, as well as in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab. Recent projects include "The Copenhagen Wheel"[6] which debuted at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, "Trash_Track" [7] shown at the Architectural League of New York and the Seattle Public Library, "New York Talk Exchange" [8] featured in the MoMA The Museum of Modern Art, and Real Time Rome included in the 2006 Venice Biennale of Architecture.


Uncommon to design education, MIT's programs are integrated in the greater University in both curriculum, resources and campus. The network of continuous buildings that combines to create the campus shares common spaces and circulations with neighboring fields.

Rogers Building

Most of the School facilities are located in or near the Rogers Building, at the main entrance to the central MIT campus (chiefly designed by William Welles Bosworth - the hallway spaces have been nicknamed the infinite corridor. The 4th floor lobby 7 of the infinite corridor is lined with studio spaces and classrooms while other classrooms are dispersed throughout the campus. MIT and SA+P have venues along the infinite corridor with exhibits that regularly feature the work of faculty, researchers and students in addition to the MIT Museum- Wolk Gallery, Keller Gallery, the Deans Office Gallery, Rotch Library, and the PLAZmA Digital Gallery. The 'glass bowl' nature of the spaces along the infinite corridor invite colleagues across the school for observation and collaboration.

Rotch Library

Originally built in 1938 as part of the William Barton Rogers Building designed by William Welles Bosworth with Harry J. Carlson. MIT’s Rotch Library of Architecture and Planning is one of the premier architecture libraries in the United States, supporting the first architecture program in the country. Rotch Library is also home to the Aga Khan Documentation Center, the GIS Lab, the Visual Collection and the Rotch Limited Access collections.

Although the library acquired an additional half floor of space in the mid-1950s, the collection had outgrown its 9,200 square-foot facility by the 1970s. However, its challenging site made plans for expansion difficult. A solution was proposed by Schwartz/Silver Architects – to suspend the floor from roof girders. These support the weight of the books from above, allowing the elimination of floor beams to maximize the narrow site. Six floors fit into the same space as the four of the original building, while still allowing for a 17-foot clearance for a truck turnaround below. A narrow, sky-lit atrium between the old building and the addition allows sunlight to reach offices and studios in the upper floors, mitigating entire elimination of views and natural light. The result is an addition that has been referred to as a ‘glass cage,’ which contains the stacks, limited-access collection, and exhibition gallery, while the renovated Bosworth building holds the main reading room and administrative offices.

Fab Labs

MIT SAP has multiple fab labs including two in the infinite corridor, a wood shop in N51, the Media Lab shop, the design center lab, among others

Media Lab Buildings

At the Eastern Gateway of the campus, the Wiesner building (designed by I.M.Pei and later expanded by Fumihiko Maki) mainly house the media lab programs, the List Visual Arts Center, the School of Architecture and Planning's Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT), and MIT's Program in Comparative Media Studies.

In 2009, the Media Lab expanded into a new building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. The local architect of record is Leers Weinzapfel Associates, of Boston. The 163,000-square-foot (15,100 m2), six-story building features an open, atelier-style, adaptable architecture specifically designed to provide the flexibility to respond to emerging research priorities. High levels of transparency throughout the building's interior make ongoing research visible, encouraging connections and collaboration among researchers.

Distinguished Alumni and Faculty


Current Faculty

Former Faculty


  1. "School of Architecture and Planning: About Us". MIT. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  2. Dillon, David (2004-02-22). "Starchitecture on Campus". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2006-10-24.
  3. Flint, Anthony (October 13, 2002). "At MIT, Going Boldly Where No Architect Has Gone Before". Boston Globe.
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  6. For Bicyclists Needing a Boost, This Wheel May Help, NYT, December 14, 2009
  7. Following Trash and Recyclables on Their Journey, NYT, September 16, 2009
  8. New York and the Vanguard of Digital Design, NYT City Room blog, February 22, 2008

Further reading

Coordinates: 42°21′54.50″N 71°05′35.58″W / 42.3651389°N 71.0932167°W / 42.3651389; -71.0932167

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