MIT News - Architecture MIT News is dedicated to communicating to the media and the public the news and achievements of the students, faculty, staff and the greater MIT community. en Wed, 04 Mar 2020 23:59:59 -0500 New approach to sustainable building takes shape in Boston A five-story mixed-use structure in Roxbury represents a new kind of net-zero-energy building, made from wood. Wed, 04 Mar 2020 23:59:59 -0500 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office <p>A new building about to take shape in Boston’s Roxbury area could, its designers hope, herald a new way of building residential structures in cities.</p> <p>Designed by architects from MIT and the design and construction firm Placetailor, the five-story building’s structure will be made from cross-laminated timber (CLT), which eliminates most of the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with standard building materials. It will be assembled on site mostly from factory-built subunits, and it will be so energy-efficient that its net carbon emissions will be essentially zero.</p> <p>Most attempts to quantify a building’s greenhouse gas contributions focus on the building’s operations, especially its heating and cooling systems. But the materials used in a building’s construction, especially steel and concrete, are also major sources of carbon emissions and need to be included in any realistic comparison of different types of construction.</p> <p>Wood construction has tended to be limited to single-family houses or smaller apartment buildings with just a few units, narrowing the impact that it can have in urban areas. But recent developments — involving the production of large-scale wood components, known as mass timber; the use of techniques such as cross-laminated timber; and changes in U.S. building codes — now make it possible to extend wood’s reach into much larger buildings, potentially up to 18 stories high.</p> <p>Several recent buildings in Europe have been pushing these limits, and now a few larger wooden buildings are beginning to take shape in the U.S. as well. The new project in Boston will be one of the largest such residential buildings in the U.S. to date, as well as one of the most innovative, thanks to its construction methods.</p> <p>Described as a Passive House Demonstration Project, the Boston building will consist of 14 residential units of various sizes, along with a ground-floor co-working space for the community. The building was designed by Generate Architecture and Technologies, a startup company out of MIT and Harvard University, headed by John Klein, in partnership with Placetailor, a design, development, and construction company that has specialized in building net-zero-energy and carbon-neutral buildings for more than a decade in the Boston area.</p> <p>Klein, who has been a principal investigator in MIT’s Department of Architecture and now serves as CEO of Generate, says that large buildings made from mass timber and assembled using the kit-of-parts approach he and his colleagues have been developing have a number of potential advantages over conventionally built structures of similar dimensions. For starters, even when factoring in the energy used in felling, transporting, assembling, and finishing the structural lumber pieces, the total carbon emissions produced would be less than half that of a comparable building made with conventional steel or concrete. Klein, along with collaborators from engineering firm BuroHappold Engineering and ecological market development firm Olifant, will be presenting a detailed analysis of these lifecycle emissions comparisons later this year at the annual Passive and Low Energy Architecture (<a href="">PLEA</a>) conference in A Coruña, Spain, whose theme this year is “planning post-carbon cities.”</p> <p>For that study, Klein and his co-authors modeled nine different versions of an eight-story mass-timber building, along with one steel and one concrete version of the building, all with the same overall scale and specifications. Their analysis showed that materials for the steel-based building produced the most greenhouse emissions; the concrete version produced 8 percent less than that; and one version of the mass-timber building produced 53 percent less.</p> <p>The first question people tend to ask about the idea of building tall structures out of wood is: What about fire? But Klein says this question has been thoroughly studied, and tests have shown that, in fact, a mass-timber building retains its structural strength longer than a comparable steel-framed building. That’s because the large timber elements, typically a foot thick or more, are made by gluing together several layers of conventional dimensioned lumber. These will char on the outside when exposed to fire, but the charred layer actually provides good insulation and protects the wood for an extended period. Steel buildings, by contrast, can collapse suddenly when the temperature of the fire approaches steel’s melting point and causes it to soften.</p> <p>The kit-based approach that Generate and Placetailor have developed, which the team calls Model-C, means that in designing a new building, it’s possible to use a series of preconfigured modules, assembled in different ways, to create a wide variety of structures of different sizes and for different uses, much like assembling a toy structure out of LEGO blocks. These subunits can be built in factories in a standardized process and then trucked to the site and bolted together. This process can reduce the impact of weather by keeping much of the fabrication process indoors in a controlled environment, while minimizing the construction time on site and thus reducing the construction’s impact on the neighborhood.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/" style="width: 500px; height: 333px;" /></p> <p><em style="font-size: 10px;">Animation depicts the process of assembling the mass-timber building from a set of factory-built components. Courtesy of&nbsp;Generate Architecture and Technologies</em></p> <p>“It’s a way to rapidly deploy these kinds of projects through a standardized system,” Klein says. “It’s a way to build rapidly in cities, using an aesthetic that embraces offsite industrial construction.”</p> <p>Because the thick wood structural elements are naturally very good insulators, the Roxbury building’s energy needs for heating and cooling are reduced compared to conventional construction, Klein says. They also produce very good acoustic insulation for its occupants. In addition, the building is designed to have solar panels on its roof, which will help to offset the building’s energy use.</p> <p>The team won a wood innovation grant in 2018 from the U.S. Forest Service, to develop a mass-timber based system for midscale housing developments. The new Boston building will be the first demonstration project for the system they developed.</p> <p>“It’s really a system, not a one-off prototype,” Klein says. With the on-site assembly of factory-built modules, which includes fully assembled bathrooms with the plumbing in place, he says the basic structure of the building can be completed in only about one week per floor.</p> <p>“We're all aware of the need for an immediate transition to a zero-carbon economy, and the building sector is a prime target,” says Andres Bernal SM ’13, Placetailor’s director of architecture. “As a company that has delivered only zero-carbon buildings for over a decade, we're very excited to be working with CLT/mass timber as an option for scaling up our approach and sharing the kit-of-parts and lessons learned with the rest of the Boston community.”</p> <p>With U.S. building codes now allowing for mass timber buildings of up to 18 stories, Klein hopes that this building will mark the beginning of a new boom in wood-based or hybrid construction, which he says could help to provide a market for large-scale sustainable forestry, as well as for sustainable, net-zero energy housing.</p> <p>“We see it as very competitive with concrete and steel for buildings of between eight and 12 stories,” he says. Such buildings, he adds, are likely to have great appeal, especially to younger generations, because “sustainability is very important to them. This provides solutions for developers, that have a real market differentiation.”</p> <p>He adds that Boston has set a goal of building thousands of new units of housing, and also a goal of making the city carbon-neutral. “Here’s a solution that does both,” he says.</p> <p>The project team included&nbsp;Evan Smith and Colin Booth at Placetailor Development; in addition to Klein<strong>,</strong>&nbsp;Zlatan Sehovic, Chris Weaver, John Fechtel, Jaehun Woo, and Clarence Yi-Hsien Lee at Generate Design; Andres Bernal, Michelangelo LaTona, Travis Anderson, and Elizabeth Hauver at Placetailor Design<strong>; </strong>Laura Jolly and Evan Smith at Placetailor Construction<strong>; </strong>Paul Richardson and Wolf Mangelsdorf at Burohappold<strong>; </strong>Sonia Barrantes and Jacob Staub at Ripcord Engineering; and<strong> </strong>Brian Kuhn and Caitlin Gamache at Code Red.</p> Architect's rendering shows the new mass-timber residential building that will soon begin construction in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood.Images: Generate Architecture and TechnologiesResearch, Architecture, Building, Sustainability, Emissions, Cities, Energy, Greenhouse gases, Carbon, Startups, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), School of Architecture and Planning QS World University Rankings rates MIT No. 1 in 12 subjects for 2020 Institute ranks second in five subject areas. Tue, 03 Mar 2020 19:01:01 -0500 MIT News Office <p>MIT has been honored with 12 No. 1 subject rankings in the QS World University Rankings for 2020.</p> <p>The Institute received a No. 1 ranking in the following QS subject areas: Architecture/Built Environment; Chemistry; Computer Science and Information Systems; Chemical Engineering; Civil and Structural Engineering; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering; Linguistics; Materials Science; Mathematics; Physics and Astronomy; and Statistics and Operational Research.</p> <p>MIT also placed second in five subject areas: Accounting and Finance; Biological Sciences; Earth and Marine Sciences; Economics and Econometrics; and Environmental Sciences.</p> <p>Quacquarelli Symonds Limited subject rankings, published annually, are designed to help prospective students find the leading schools in their field of interest. Rankings are based on research quality and accomplishments, academic reputation, and graduate employment.</p> <p>MIT has been ranked as the No. 1 university in the world by QS World University Rankings for eight straight years.</p> Afternoon light streams into MIT’s Lobby 7.Image: Jake BelcherRankings, Computer science and technology, Linguistics, Chemical engineering, Civil and environmental engineering, Mechanical engineering, Chemistry, Materials science, Mathematics, Physics, Economics, EAPS, Business and management, Accounting, Finance, DMSE, School of Engineering, School of Science, School of Architecture and Planning, Sloan School of Management, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), Architecture, Biology, Aeronautical and astronautical engineering Preventing energy loss in windows Mechanical engineers are developing technologies that could prevent heat from entering or escaping windows, potentially preventing a massive loss of energy. Mon, 06 Jan 2020 15:30:01 -0500 Mary Beth Gallagher | Department of Mechanical Engineering <p>In the quest to make buildings more energy efficient, windows present a particularly difficult problem. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heat that either escapes or enters windows accounts for roughly 30 percent of the energy used to heat and cool buildings. Researchers are developing a variety of window technologies that could prevent this massive loss of energy.</p> <p>“The choice of windows in a building has a direct influence on energy consumption,” says Nicholas Fang, professor of mechanical engineering. “We need an effective way of blocking solar radiation.”</p> <p>Fang is part of a large collaboration that is working together to develop smart adaptive control and monitoring systems for buildings. The research team, which includes researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Leon Glicksman, professor of building technology and mechanical engineering at MIT, has been tasked with helping Hong Kong achieve its ambitious goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2025.</p> <p>“Our idea is to adapt new sensors and smart windows in an effort to help achieve energy efficiency and improve thermal comfort for people inside buildings,” Fang explains.</p> <p>His contribution is the development of a smart material that can be placed on a window as a film that blocks heat from entering. The film remains transparent when the surface temperature is under 32 degrees Celsius, but turns milky when it exceeds 32 C. This change in appearance is due to thermochromic microparticles that change phases in response to heat. The smart window’s milky appearance can block up to 70 percent of solar radiation from passing through the window, translating to a 30 percent reduction in cooling load.&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to this thermochromic material, Fang’s team is hoping to embed windows with sensors that monitor sunlight, luminance, and temperature. “Overall, we want an integral solution to reduce the load on HVAC systems,” he explains.</p> <p>Like Fang, graduate student Elise Strobach is working on a material that could significantly reduce the amount of heat that either escapes or enters through windows. She has developed a high-clarity silica aerogel that, when placed between two panes of glass, is 50 percent more insulating than traditional windows and lasts up to a decade longer.</p> <p>“Over the course of the past two years, we’ve developed a material that has demonstrated performance and is promising enough to start commercializing,” says Strobach, who is a PhD candidate in MIT’s Device Research Laboratory. To help in this commercialization, Strobach has co-founded the startup <a href="">AeroShield Materials</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Lighter than a marshmallow, AeroShield’s material comprises 95 percent air. The rest of the material is made up of silica nanoparticles that are just 1-2 nanometers large. This structure blocks all three modes of heat loss: conduction, convection, and radiation. When gas is trapped inside the material’s small voids, it can no longer collide and transfer energy through convection. Meanwhile, the silica nanoparticles absorb radiation and re-emit it back in the direction it came from.</p> <p>“The material’s composition allows for a really intense temperature gradient that keeps the heat where you want it, whether it’s hot or cold outside,” explains Strobach, who, along with AeroShield co-founder Kyle Wilke, was named one of <a href="">Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Energy</a>. Commercialization of this research is being supported by the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation.</p> <p>Strobach also sees possibilities for combining AeroShield technologies with other window solutions being developed at MIT, including Fang’s work and research being conducted by Gang Chen, Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering, and research scientist Svetlana Boriskina.</p> <p>“Buildings represent one third of U.S. energy usage, so in many ways windows are low-hanging fruit,” explains Chen.</p> <p>Chen and Boriskina previously worked with Strobach on the first iteration of the AeroShield material for their project developing a solar thermal aerogel receiver. More recently, they have developed polymers that could be used in windows or building facades to trap or reflect heat, regardless of color.&nbsp;</p> <p>These polymers were partially inspired by stained-glass windows. “I have an optical background, so I’m always drawn to the visual aspects of energy applications,” says Boriskina. “The problem is, when you introduce color it affects whatever energy strategy you are trying to pursue.”</p> <p>Using a mix of polyethylene and a solvent, Chen and Boriskina added various nanoparticles to provide color. Once stretched, the material becomes translucent and its composition changes. Previously disorganized carbon chains reform as parallel lines, which are much better at conducting heat.</p> <p>While these polymers need further development for use in transparent windows, they could possibly be used in colorful, translucent windows that reflect or trap heat, ultimately leading to energy savings. “The material isn’t as transparent as glass, but it’s translucent. It could be useful for windows in places you don’t want direct sunlight to enter — like gyms or classrooms,” Boriskina adds.</p> <p>Boriskina is also using these materials for military applications. Through a three-year project funded by the U.S. Army, she is developing lightweight, custom-colored, and unbreakable polymer windows. These windows can provide passive temperature control and camouflage for portable shelters and vehicles.</p> <p>For any of these technologies to have a meaningful impact on energy consumption, researchers must improve scalability and affordability. “Right now, the cost barrier for these technologies is too high — we need to look into more economical and scalable versions,” Fang adds.&nbsp;</p> <p>If researchers are successful in developing manufacturable and affordable solutions, their window technologies could vastly improve building efficiency and lead to a substantial reduction in building energy consumption worldwide.</p> A smart window developed by Professor Nicholas Fang includes thermochromic material that turns frosty when exposed to temperatures of 32 C or higher, such as when a researcher touches the window with her hand. Photo courtesy of the researchers.Mechanical engineering, School of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Energy, Architecture, Climate change, Glass, Nanoscience and nanotechnology Design for the Hayden Library renovation takes shape Renovated spaces will be more flexible and welcoming, maximizing views and natural light. Thu, 12 Dec 2019 12:12:01 -0500 Brigham Fay | MIT Libraries <p>The MIT Libraries, working with&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Kennedy &amp; Violich Architecture</a>&nbsp;(KVA), have developed the design for the upcoming Hayden Library renovation. As seen in architectural concept renderings, the new design accommodates the library’s multiple uses with dynamic areas for collaboration, research, and community-building, as well as quiet study.&nbsp;</p> <p>Reopening in fall 2020, the renovated library will include a transformation of the first floor and parts of the second floor. New research and event program space, infrastructure upgrades, and improved accessibility will better&nbsp;support the ways that today’s MIT community uses library space. If donor funding is secured, Lipschitz Courtyard, adjacent to Hayden, will also be renovated concurrently with the library to provide a compelling outdoor community green space with new landscaping and seating areas.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We asked KVA to create spaces that reflect the library of the future — participatory, creative, dynamic — while also preserving what makes Hayden such a popular study destination: quiet, restful space with beautiful views,” says Chris Bourg, director of the MIT Libraries. “Their design will not only make the library more open and welcoming; it will invite community members to make connections between ideas, collections, and each other.”</p> <p><strong>Research crossroads</strong></p> <p>KVA’s design concept for Hayden Library, “Research Crossroads,” is designed to enable new ways to study, collaborate, and conduct research with the library’s collections. The first floor has been designed as a dynamic and flexible community space for research and dialogue, where a new café, event space, and reservable study rooms will encourage impromptu gatherings, collaborative study, and community events. Two new double-height pavilion structures, clad in translucent glass and ash wood, are located in an X-shaped configuration that opens up views to the Lipschitz Courtyard and the Charles River.&nbsp;</p> <p>“The Research Crossroads design concept was guided by the inspiring new vision for Hayden that MIT Libraries has developed,” says Sheila Kennedy, founding principal of KVA and&nbsp;<a href="">professor of architecture</a>&nbsp;in MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. “The new design and renovation project will help bring the physical spaces of Hayden into a future where research collaboration and inclusive community building are becoming increasingly important.”&nbsp;</p> <p>“This design puts research physically and figuratively at the center of the library,” says Bourg. “The research rooms will be visible as you enter, signaling that the library is an active and vibrant space where people are interacting with knowledge and each other.”</p> <p>The entire first floor of the new Hayden, more than 10,000 square feet of space, will be accessible 24 hours a day to anyone with an MIT ID. The first and second floors of the library will be connected with an expanded new elevator and a new public stair and circulation path. At the east end of the first floor, a flexible event and teaching space can be configured in different ways to host events ranging from lectures to book signings, as well as library workshops and classes.</p> <p>The second-floor reading room will remain a place for quiet study,&nbsp;suffused with natural light and featuring river views. Adjacent to the reading room will be staff offices for subject librarians and experts in scholarly communications, with areas for consultation with MIT students, faculty, and researchers. New flexible work space on the east side of Building 14’s second floor will provide additional space for study, research, and working with library collections.</p> <p><strong>Accessibility and sustainability&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Access and sustainability have been priorities throughout the design process. An accessible, full-size elevator, the removal of non-accessible mezzanines, and the addition of new gender-inclusive restrooms and a lactation room will all contribute to a more inclusive and welcoming library. In addition to aiming for <span class="ILfuVd"><span class="e24Kjd">Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design</span></span> Gold certification, the Hayden renovation will also be piloting two new certifications for MIT: Fitwel, a building certification focused on positive impacts for occupant health and wellbeing, and an interior design strategy that uses environmentally responsible materials.&nbsp;</p> <p>To realize this vision for the new Hayden, the library will be closed from mid-December until fall 2020. Access to the basement-level general collections will close on Dec. 15, and all study spaces (including the 24-hour space) close on Dec. 19 at 5 p.m.&nbsp;</p> <p>An&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">exhibit</a>&nbsp;about the Hayden Library renovation opens in the Maihaugen Gallery (14N-130) in December and will remain on view throughout construction.&nbsp;</p> A conceptual rendering for MIT's Hayden Library shows a new stair that leads to the mezzanine level and the second-floor reading room. Study rooms, computer stations, and flexible furniture configurations all benefit from views to the Charles River and Boston skyline through Hayden’s double-height windows. Image: Kennedy and Violich ArchitectureSchool of Architecture and Planning, Community, Facilities, Campus buildings and architecture, Architecture, Libraries MIT researchers examine cities worldwide for 2019 Seoul Architecture and Urbanism Biennale Transportation, communication, development, and social interaction are explored through the lens of the urban. Wed, 11 Dec 2019 12:35:01 -0500 School of Architecture and Planning <p>Inspired by the question “What are the problems our cities must confront?”, faculty, students, and alumni from the MIT School of Architecture and Planning participated in the 2019 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, which ran from September to November.</p> <p>The Biennale’s Cities Exhibition, curated by Rafael Luna MArch ’10 and Dongwoo Yim, invited participation from researchers in more than 80 cities worldwide, asking them to examine their most pressing concerns through the lens of the Biennale’s theme of “Collective City.” Their curatorial process included both identifying issues specific to cities and uncovering unexplored connections among them — and creating a new discourse in response.</p> <p>In their statement, the curators said, “[O]ur cities are a collective of spatial, temporal, and social environments and at the same time, organisms that constantly change due to the intervention of unintentional or unplanned factors. Even a [perfectly planned] city can reveal a new consequence due to the new variables; a city devised without solid plans creates a new order through the optimal interactions of the city’s elements. In all of these processes, temporal, spatial, and social elements are combined and work together. Thus, each city continues to evolve through every moment.”</p> <p>This year, the MIT-related participants and projects in the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism included:</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities" target="_blank">Aldo: A Social Infrastructure</a>, from Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster MArch ’08, examines Buffalo, New York — a 19th-century boomtown that declined sharply in the mid-20th century. Despite recent investment and activity, parts of Buffalo remain blighted by poverty and segregation. Aldo addresses this inequality with social infrastructures for playful public encounters, creating spaces for people from varied economic, political, and racial backgrounds to share experiences. &nbsp;</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities">Bangkok’s Urban Presence</a><a href=";cate=cities" target="_blank">: Toward the Future of Smart Urbanity</a>, by Non Arkaraprasertkul MS ’07 and Shouheng Shen, proposes interventions to address mobility obstacles in Bangkok, Thailand, such as traffic congestion. This work envisions a new “Smart Urbanity” that is scientific, data-driven, and socially sensitive to space and place. By investigating the challenges faced by pedestrians, this work seeks to provide a generalization of how and why we should not ignore physical realities when creating a sense of place.</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities">Big Plans: Made for China</a>, by Michael Sorkin Studio/Michael Sorkin MArch ’74, presents several projects that arise from fundamental predicates of the good city: neighborhoods; primacy of pedestrians; free mix of uses; recalculation of the ratio of green, blue, and built space; high levels of local autonomy; and the most radical environmental infrastructure possible. At a time when there is intense discussion of what, exactly, are the qualities of Chinese urbanism, these projects reflect a wide range — from the quasi-fantastical to the fully realizable.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities">Boston Understories</a>, by Landing Studio (Dan Adams and Lecturer of Urban Design and Planning Marie Law Adams MArch ’06), uses the lens of the regulatory sign to contemplate spaces and activities under highway viaducts. Markers such as “no trespassing” signs fail to reflect the actuality of these sub-infrastructural spaces — where the market forces development into infrastructural margins, ecological systems converge with mobility networks, and public works intermingle with public recreation. Boston Understories introduces a new, more plural taxonomy of signs to encourage, amplify, and make legible actual and imagined collective domains of urban viaduct spaces.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities">Creative Collectives</a>, from the platau platform for architecture and urbanism (Sandra Frem MS ’09, Boulos Douaihy, and Sabin), looks at the spatial history of the collective in Beirut — from political to social and economic — from 2000 to the present. It also investigates emerging forms of collectives at the intersection of private and communal, such as creative and entrepreneurial clusters. The project imagines a speculative future where Beirut is overlaid by a network of nodes — Creative Collectives — with specific criteria: creative reappropriation of vulnerable urban fabric and open spaces for positive negotiation among conservation, individual modes of practice, and collective experience.&nbsp;</p> <p>The <a href=";cate=cities">Heterotopial City</a> project by Ibañez Kim (Associate Professor Mariana Ibañez, Simon Kim SM ’08, Andrew Homick, Adam Schroth, Sarah Davis, Angeliki Tzifa, Tian Ouyang, and Kyuhun Kim) addresses master planning’s out-of-touch visions for urbanism and architecture; the complex role of citizenship in a highly dispersed communications landscape; and the shifting concept of natures without separate identities such as human/nonhuman, wild/civilized, public/private, and inside/outside. A crypto-city composed of familiar places is the location of new collective commons, synthetic natures, and hybrid environments; this city compresses elements of real metropolises to reveal our current human nature and suggest alternative actions.&nbsp;</p> <p>Introduction to Collective Consequences, by exhibition curators Luna and Yim, revealed their curatorial efforts and decisions as they interpreted the biennale’s main theme of Collective Cities. Collective consequences are an accumulation of multiple layers — the results of both planned and unplanned intentions. The Cities Exhibition was created with open-ended curation to allow for dialogue and chemistry between individual exhibits. The introductory exhibition provided methods for reading a city as a platform to understand different ways of discussing contemporary topics related to cities.</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities">Los Angeles: Towards an Automated Transitopia</a>, from associate professor of planning Andres Sevtsuk and Evan Shieh, envisions the year 2047, when the autonomous vehicle has catalyzed a mobility paradigm shift toward autonomous public transit in Los Angeles. A model of regional urban growth provides methods to combat the negative effects of the private automobile: urban sprawl, traffic congestion, environmental unsustainability, and mobility inequality.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities">Manila Improstructure</a>, by Dietmar Offenhuber SM ’08 and Katja Schechtner, focuses on social practices in Manila’s streetlight and electricity grid. The project investigates how actors shape the infrastructural system through “improstructure” — infrastructure governance as an improvisational process of “call and response” among a diverse set of actors. This perspective is applied to ongoing modernization efforts by the City of Manila and its utility companies.</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities">Moving Nairobi</a>: Stories of Urban Mobility from the Civic Data Design Lab (project leader Sarah Williams and researchers Carmelo Ignaccolo and Dylan Halpern) explores Nairobi, Kenya — from wealthy neighborhoods to low-income communities — through the eyes of four commuters as they walk, ride motorcycles, take buses, and hire Ubers. Human movement data acquired from Uber and cell phones are presented in animated displays to illustrate the city's congestion; video shows four people's daily commutes, played in sync as their paths are drawn within a map.</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities">Retro-Utopian Alternatives for Belgrade, Serbia</a>, from the Collective Architecture Studio (Associate Professor Ana Miljački and graduate students Rodrigo Cesarman, Stratton Coffman, Sarah Wagner, Catherine Lie, Boliang Du, Gabrielle Heffernan, Benjamin Hoyle, Marisa Waddle, Sydney Cinalli, Yutan Sun, and Eytan Levi) explores both space for the common good and self-managed architectural enterprises through the lens of the architecture of Belgrade in the second half of the 20th century. &nbsp;</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities">Sit(e)lines of a Garden City</a>, by Associate Professor Rafi Segal, Monica Hutton SM ’18, Jung In Seo, and collaborating artist Gili Merin, explores the port city of Haifa, Israel, via its system of urban stairs in the&nbsp; neighborhoods of the garden city of Mount Carmel. Constructed in the 20th century, the stairs are surrounded by multifamily housing and vegetation and cut across varied ethnic neighborhoods, but many stairs are now neglected and without clear jurisdiction. This project explores how urban stairs could strengthen neighborhood identity by expanding and activating leftover green spaces and introducing new, small-scale interior and exterior commercial spaces.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=";cate=cities">The Big Equalizer</a>, from Oficina de Resiliencia Urbana and Edwina Portocarrero PhD ’18, is an immersive installation exploring the perceptual effects of earthquakes. Outfitted with transducers, a living room's furniture vibrates and the room resonates with sounds collected during Mexico's last devastating earthquakes: live newscasts, chants of rescue workers, personal accounts. Visitors are encouraged to take cover — beneath the table, under the door frame — changing their experience of space and place.</p> Seoul Architecture and Urbanism Biennale attendees interact with the "Sit(e)lines of a Garden City" installation on the port city of Haifa, Israel.Photo courtesy of the researchers.School of Architecture and Planning, Architecture, Korea, Alumni/ae, Faculty, Global, Arts, Design Transformation by design Skylar Tibbits makes materials that water, heat, or mechanical forces can alter into new shapes. Wed, 27 Nov 2019 12:25:02 -0500 Denis Paiste | Materials Research Laboratory <p>Consider the range of possibilities from 4D printed materials that transform underwater, or fibers that snap into a particular shape when they are cut out of a flat panel, or coaxing shifting sands in the ocean into building artificial islands, and you will have some idea of the breadth of research that&nbsp;<a href="">Skylar Tibbits</a>, MIT associate professor of design research in the Department of Architecture, pursues.<br /> <br /> Tibbits’&nbsp;<a href="">Self-Assembly Lab</a>&nbsp;at MIT demonstrated, through studies in a water tank simulating ocean conditions, that specific geometries could generate self-organizing sand bars and beaches. To test this approach in the real world, the lab is currently conducting field experiments based on their lab work with a group called&nbsp;<a href="">Invena</a>&nbsp;in the Maldives — a chain of islands, or atolls, in the Indian Ocean, many of which are at risk of erosion and, at worst, submersion from rising sea levels.</p> <p>Wind and waves naturally build up sand bars in the ocean environment and just as naturally sweep them away. The idea of the Maldives project is to harness the power of waves and their interaction with specifically placed underwater bladders to promote sand accumulation where it is most needed to protect shorefronts from flooding, rather than building land-based barriers that are inevitably worn away or overwhelmed.</p> <p>Sand alone may not ensure permanency to these “directed” islands, so the Self-Assembly Lab hopes to incorporate vegetation into future efforts, drawing on classic motifs of landscape engineering such as mangrove forests that anchor an ecosystem. “In the bladders underwater, you could seed them with vegetation to make them stay,” Tibbits said in a presentation to the MIT Industrial Liaison Program’s&nbsp;<a href=";tabname=agenda&amp;day=All">Research and Development Conference</a>&nbsp;on Nov. 13.</p> <p>Tibbits also discussed his collaborations on “4D printing,” objects that are formed by multi-material 3D printing but designed to transform over time, whether that transformation is activated by mechanical stress, water absorption, light exposure, or some other mechanism. One method to create adaptable materials is by pairing two different materials that expand or contract at different rates. In a collaboration with Stratasys and Autodesk, he designed a single strand of material that, as soon as it is immersed in water, folds itself into the letters M - I - T.</p> <p>Working with BMW, the Self-Assembly Lab designed&nbsp;<a href="">silicone cushion clusters</a>&nbsp;that are 3D-printed in liquid and can be inflated cell by cell, thus changing their overall shape, stiffness, or movement. This material could be the basis for more comfortable seating that adjusts to individual passengers.</p> <p>The Self-Assembly Lab is conducting active textile research in collaboration with&nbsp;<a href="">Ministry of Supply</a>, fiber extrusion specialty firm&nbsp;<a href="">Hills Inc.</a>, the University of Maine, and Iowa State University. So far, the group has produced sweater yarns that can be heated to conform to an individual wearer’s body shape, with a long-term goal of producing climate-adaptive textiles. This work is partly funded by <a href="">Advanced Functional Fabrics of America</a>, and that portion of the research is administered through the Materials Research Laboratory.</p> <p>The Self-Assembly Lab also developed a method to 3D-print liquid metal into powder that creates fully formed parts that can be lifted out of the powder. The parts are made of a material that can be re-melted to form new parts.</p> <p>Using carbon-based materials in a project for Airbus, the Self-Assembly Lab developed thin blades that can fold and curl by themselves to control the airflow to the engine. The “programmable” carbon work was carried out with Carbitex LLC, Autodesk, and MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms.</p> <p>For a chair project with Biesse and Wood-Skin, the Self-Assembly Lab designed a small table that marries 3D-printed wood fiber panels and pre-stressed textiles. The table can be shipped flat, then jump into several different arrangements because of the flexibility of the textile.</p> <p>By 3D-printing a stiffer material in a circular pattern onto a flat mesh, for example, the researchers showed that cutting out the circle from the flat plane causes it to snap into a hyperbolic parabola shape. The researchers include MIT computer science Professor Erik Demaine; Christophe Guberan, a visiting product designer from Switzerland; and David Costanza MA ’13, SM ’15.</p> <p>Tibbits worked with Steelcase to develop a process for 3D printing plastic into liquid for furniture parts, called rapid liquid printing. This process prints within a gel bath to provide support for the printed parts and minimize the effect of gravity. With this printing technique they can print centimeter- to meter-scale parts in minutes to hours with a range of high-quality industrial materials like silicone rubber, polyurethane, and acrylics.</p> <p>The common theme across all these different projects is Tibbits’ belief that the future of industrial production lies in the transformative power of harnessing smart, programmable materials. “We want to think about what’s coming next and see if we can really lead that,” Tibbits says.</p> The Maldives, a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean, are at risk of erosion and, at worst, submersion from rising sea levels. MIT's Skylar Tibbits is conducting field experiments with a group called Invena in the Maldives to harness the power of waves with underwater bladders to promote sand accumulation where it is most needed to protect shorelines from flooding.Photo: Denis Paiste/Materials Research LaboratoryMaterials Research Laboratory, Architecture, Center for Bits and Atoms, 3-D printing, 4-D printing, Self-assembly, Faculty, Special events and guest speakers, School of Architecture and Planning High school students learn about commercial real estate through the Center for Real Estate Residential course provides immersive experience for 28 juniors and seniors from around the United States. Tue, 19 Nov 2019 15:55:01 -0500 School of Architecture and Planning <p>Seeking a way to introduce culturally diverse high school students to the study of commercial real estate, the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE) has created a 12-day, in-residence course and welcomed 28 juniors and seniors to campus this past summer. Participants came from high schools in Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.</p> <p>To develop the program, which launched in July and will run again in summer 2020, CRE collaborated with the nonprofit NEXUS Summer Programs. The Real Estate Executive Council (REEC, a national trade association established to promote the interests of minority executives in commercial real estate) and NAIOP Massachusetts (the local office of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, formerly the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks), provided support to bring the student participants to campus.</p> <p>“We exist to provide college-bound teens with the tools needed to thrive on campus,” says Ric Ramsey, founder of NEXUS Summer Programs. “Alongside a focus on both academic and career development, NEXUS also provides immersive experiences in self-discovery, including opportunities to build confidence and self-sufficiency away from home.”</p> <p>In addition to learning about the fundamental aspects of commercial real estate, participants received SAT prep and presentation coaching from industry experts, and were introduced to the many career opportunities available within the industry. In their post-program evaluations, the student participants gave the program’s modules consistently high ratings.</p> <p>“The NEXUS program is a critical component in helping our industry attract new talent from a diverse population,” says Reesa Fischer, executive director of NAIOP Massachusetts, “We were so impressed with the potential of these students and their enthusiasm about commercial real estate.”</p> <p>Residential housing, hospitality, and commercial real estate development projects are booming in the Boston, Massachusetts area, largely in response to shopping trends and the shifting needs of area residents. In addition to traditional classroom instruction about commercial real estate, participants toured the sites of two local commercial development projects, organized by CRE alumni.</p> <p>A tour of Hub on Causeway, a dynamic, mixed-use property at the original Boston Garden, was organized by Melissa Schrock MSRED ’12, vice president of development at Boston Properties. Closer to campus, Amanda Strong MSRED ’02, director of asset management for the MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo), coordinated a tour of Kendall Square at MIT, the massive redevelopment project taking place on and adjacent to the MIT campus. The program also featured site tours of the Fenway by Samuels and Associates, a local development firm working in that area, that included a tour of Fenway Park.</p> <p>In addition, Marcella Barriere MSRED ’13, a real estate project executive at Google, organized a tour of the corporate office and provided presentation space. After coaching, site tours, and discussion, the student teams formally pitched their commercial real estate project ideas to a panel of judges at Google headquarters.</p> <p>The institutional collaboration enabled the participating organizations to advance shared goals. “REEC is very excited to have NAIOP and MIT join our efforts to transform the composition of the real estate industry,” says Kirk Sykes, the chairman of REEC’s board of directors.</p> <p>“It was important for CRE to host NEXUS,” says Kelly Cameron, CRE’s career development officer. “We need culturally diverse students to see MIT as a viable school choice when it’s time to start applying to colleges and universities, but also to see commercial real estate as an actual career option — I think we accomplished both.”</p> NEXUS program participants pose with the MIT seal in Lobby 7. The NEXUS program provides college-bound students with the tools needed to thrive on campus, focusing on academic and career development, and offers opportunities to build confidence and self-sufficiency away from home. Photo: Taidgh McClorySchool of Architecture and Planning, Center for Real Estate, Architecture, Urban studies and planning, Diversity and inclusion, K-12 education, Classes and programs, Education, teaching, academics, Careers, Real estate Engineers put Leonardo da Vinci’s bridge design to the test Proposed bridge would have been the world’s longest at the time; new analysis shows it would have worked. Wed, 09 Oct 2019 23:59:59 -0400 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office <p>In 1502 A.D., Sultan Bayezid II sent out the Renaissance equivalent of a government RFP (request for proposals), seeking a design for a bridge to connect Istanbul with its neighbor city Galata. Leonardo da Vinci, already a well-known artist and inventor, came up with a novel bridge design that he described in a letter to the Sultan and sketched in a small drawing in his notebook.</p> <p>He didn’t get the job. But 500 years after his death, the design for what would have been the world’s longest bridge span of its time intrigued researchers at MIT, who wondered how thought-through Leonardo’s concept was and whether it really would have worked.</p> <p>Spoiler alert: Leonardo knew what he was doing.</p> <p>To study the question, recent graduate student Karly Bast MEng ’19, working with professor of architecture and of civil and environmental engineering John Ochsendorf and undergraduate Michelle Xie, tackled the problem by analyzing the available documents, the possible materials and construction methods that were available at the time, and the geological conditions at the proposed site, which was a river estuary called the Golden Horn. Ultimately, the team built a detailed scale model to test the structure’s ability to stand and support weight, and even to withstand settlement of its foundations.</p> <p>The results of the study were presented in Barcelona this week at the conference of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures. They will also be featured in a talk at Draper in Cambridge, Massachusetts, later this month and in an episode of the PBS program NOVA, set to air on Nov. 13.</p> <p><strong>A flattened arch</strong></p> <p>In Leonardo’s time, most masonry bridge supports were made in the form of conventional semicircular arches, which would have required 10 or more piers along the span to support such a long bridge. Leonardo’s bridge concept was dramatically different — a flattened arch that would be tall enough to allow a sailboat to pass underneath with its mast in place, as illustrated in his sketch, but that would cross the wide span with a single enormous arch.</p> <p>The bridge would have been about 280 meters long (though Leonardo himself was using a different measurement system, since the metric system was still a few centuries off), making it the longest span in the world at that time, had it been built. “It’s incredibly ambitious,” Bast says. “It was about 10 times longer than typical bridges of that time.”</p> <p>The design also featured an unusual way of stabilizing the span against lateral motions — something that has resulted in the collapse of many bridges over the centuries. To combat that, Leonardo proposed abutments that splayed outward on either side, like a standing subway rider widening her stance to balance in a swaying car.</p> <p>In his notebooks and letter to the Sultan, Leonardo provided no details about the materials that would be used or the method of construction. Bast and the team analyzed the materials available at the time and concluded that the bridge could only have been made of stone, because wood or brick could not have carried the loads of such a long span. And they concluded that, as in classical masonry bridges such as those built by the Romans, the bridge would stand on its own under the force of gravity, without any fasteners or mortar to hold the stone together.</p> <p>To prove that, they had to build a model and demonstrate its stability. That required figuring out how to slice up the complex shape into individual blocks that could be assembled into the final structure. While the full-scale bridge would have been made up of thousands of stone blocks, they decided on a design with 126 blocks for their model, which was built at a scale of 1 to 500 (making it about 32 inches long). Then the individual blocks were made on a 3D printer, taking about six hours per block to produce.</p> <p>“It was time-consuming, but 3D printing allowed us to accurately recreate this very complex geometry,” Bast says.</p> <p><strong>Testing the design’s feasibility</strong></p> <p>This is not the first attempt to reproduce Leonardo’s basic bridge design in physical form. Others, including a pedestrian bridge in Norway, have been inspired by his design, but in that case modern materials — steel and concrete — were used, so that construction provided no information about the practicality of Leonardo’s engineering.</p> <p>“That was not a test to see if his design would work with the technology from his time,” Bast says. But because of the nature of gravity-supported masonry, the faithful scale model, albeit made of a different material, would provide such a test.</p> <p>“It’s all held together by compression only,” she says. “We wanted to really show that the forces are all being transferred within the structure,” which is key to ensuring that the bridge would stand solidly and not topple.</p> <p>As with actual masonry arch bridge construction, the “stones” were supported by a scaffolding structure as they were assembled, and only after they were all in place could the scaffolding be removed to allow the structure to support itself. Then it came time to insert the final piece in the structure, the keystone at the very top of the arch.</p> <p>“When we put it in, we had to squeeze it in. That was the critical moment when we first put the bridge together. I had a lot of doubts” as to whether it would all work, Bast recalls. But “when I put the keystone in, I thought, ‘this is going to work.’ And after that, we took the scaffolding out, and it stood up.”</p> <p>“It’s the power of geometry” that makes it work, she says. “This is a strong concept. It was well thought out.” Score another victory for Leonardo.</p> <p>“Was this sketch just freehanded, something he did in 50 seconds, or is it something he really sat down and thought deeply about? It’s difficult to know” from the available historical material, she says. But proving the effectiveness of the design suggests that Leonardo really did work it out carefully and thoughtfully, she says. “He knew how the physical world works.”</p> <p>He also apparently understood that the region was prone to earthquakes, and incorporated features such as the spread footings that would provide extra stability. To test the structure’s resilience, Bast and Xie built the bridge on two movable platforms and then moved one away from the other to simulate the foundation movements that might result from weak soil. The bridge showed resilience to the horizontal movement, only deforming slightly until being stretched to the point of complete collapse.</p> <p>The design may not have practical implications for modern bridge designers, Bast says, since today’s materials and methods provide many more options for lighter, stronger designs. But the proof of the feasibility of this design sheds more light on what ambitious construction projects might have been possible using only the materials and methods of the early Renaissance. And it once again underscores the brilliance of one of the world’s most prolific inventors.</p> <p>It also demonstrates, Bast says, that “you don’t necessarily need fancy technology to come up with the best ideas.”</p> Recent graduate student Karly Bast shows off the scale model of a bridge designed by Leonardo da Vinci that she and her co-workers used to prove the design’s feasibility. Image: Gretchen ErtlCivil and environmental engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, School of Engineering, Architecture, History, School of Architecture and Planning, Research, 3-D printing Deploying drones to prepare for climate change PhD student Norhan Bayomi uses drones to investigate how building construction impacts communities’ resilience to rising temperatures. Fri, 04 Oct 2019 00:00:00 -0400 Daysia Tolentino | MIT News correspondent <p>While doing field research for her graduate thesis in her hometown of Cairo, Norhan Magdy Bayomi observed firsthand the impact of climate change on her local community.</p> <p>The residents of the low-income neighborhood she was studying were living in small, poorly insulated apartments that were ill-equipped for dealing with the region’s rising temperatures. Sharing cramped quarters — with families in studios less than 500 square feet — and generally lacking air conditioning or even fans, many people avoided staying in their homes altogether on the hottest days.</p> <p>It was a powerful illustration of one of the most terrible aspects of climate change: Those who are facing its most extreme impacts also tend to have the fewest resources for adapting.</p> <p>This understanding has guided Bayomi’s research as a PhD student in the Department of Architecture’s Building Technology Program. Currently in her third year of the program, she has mainly looked at countries in the developing world, studying how low-income communities there adapt to changing heat patterns and <a href="" target="_blank">documenting</a> global heatwaves and populations’ adaptive capacity to heat. A key focus of her research is how building construction and neighborhoods’ design affect residents’ vulnerability to hotter temperatures.</p> <p>She uses drones with infrared cameras to document the surface temperatures of urban buildings, including structures with a variety of designs and building materials, and outdoor conditions in the urban canyons between buildings.</p> <p>“When you look at technologies like drones, they are not really designed or commonly used to tackle problems like this. We’re trying to incorporate this kind of technology to understand what kind of adaptation strategies are suitable for addressing climate change, especially for underserved populations,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Eyes in the sky</strong></p> <p>Bayomi is currently developing a computational tool to model heat risk in urban areas that incorporates building performance, available urban resources for adaptation, and population adaptive capacity into its data.</p> <p>“Most of the tools that are available right now are mostly using statistical data about the population, the income, and the temperature. I’m trying to incorporate how the building affects indoor conditions, what resources are available to urban residents, and how they adapt to heat exposure — for instance, if they have a cooling space they could go to, or if there is a problem with the power supplies and they don’t have access to ceiling fans,” she says. “I’m trying to add these details to the equation to see how they would affect risk in the future.”</p> <p>She recently began <a href="">looking at similar changes</a> in communities in the Bronx, New York, in order to see how building construction, population adaptation, and the effects of climate change differ based on region. Bayomi says that her advisor, Professor John Fernández, motivated her to think about how she could apply different technologies into her field of research.</p> <p>Bayomi’s interest in drones and urban development isn’t limited to thermal mapping. As a participant in the School of Architecture and Planning’s DesignX entrepreneurship program, she and her team founded Airworks, a company that uses aerial data collected by the drones to provide developers with automated site plans and building models. Bayomi worked on thermal imaging for the company, and she hopes to continue this work after she finishes her studies.</p> <p>Bayomi is also working with Fernández’s Urban Metabolism Group on an aerial thermography project in collaboration with Tarek Rakha PhD ’15, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech. The project is developing a cyber-physical platform to calibrate building energy models, using drones equipped with infrared sensors that autonomously detect heat transfer anomalies and envelope material conditions. Bayomi’s group is currently working on a drone that will be able to capture these data and process them in real-time.</p> <p><strong>Second home</strong></p> <p>Bayomi says the personal connections that she has developed at MIT, both within her program and across the Institute, have profoundly shaped her graduate experience.</p> <p>“MIT is a place where I felt home and welcome. Even as an Arabic muslim woman, I always felt home,” she says. “My relationship with my advisor was one of the main unique things that kept me centered and focused, as I was blessed with an advisor who understands and respects my ideas and gives me freedom to explore new areas.”</p> <p>She also appreciates the Building Technology program’s “unique family vibe,” with its multiple academic and nonacademic events including lunch seminars and social events.</p> <p>When she’s not working on climate technologies, Bayomi enjoys playing and producing music. She has played the guitar for 20 years now and was part of a band during her undergraduate years. Music serves an important role in Bayomi’s life and is a crucial creative outlet for her. She currently produces rock-influenced trance music, a genre categorized by melodic, electronic sounds. She released her first single under the moniker Nourey last year and is working on an upcoming track. She likes incorporating guitar into her songs, an element not typically heard in trance tunes.</p> <p>“'I’m trying to do&nbsp; something using guitars with ambient influences in trance music, which is not very common,” she says.</p> <p>Bayomi has been a member of the MIT Egyptian Students Association since she arrived at MIT in 2015, and now serves as vice president. The club works to connect Egyptian students at MIT and students in Egypt, to encourage prospective students to apply and provide guidance based on the members’ own experiences.</p> <p>“We currently have an amazing mix of students in engineering, Sloan [School of Management], Media Lab, and architecture, including graduate and undergraduate members. Also, with this club we try to create a little piece of home here at MIT for those who feel homesick and disconnected due to culture challenges,” she says.</p> <p>In 2017 she participated in MIT’s Vacation Week for Massachusetts Public Schools at the MIT Museum, and in 2018 she participated in the Climate Changed ideas competition, where her team’s <a href="" target="_blank">entry</a> was selected as one of the top three finalists.</p> <p>“I am keen to participate whenever possible in these kind of activities, which enhance my academic experience here,” she says. “MIT is a rich place for such events.”</p> Norhan BayomiImage: Jake BelcherGraduate, postdoctoral, Students, Profile, Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Drones, Climate change, Africa, Middle East, Music A new lens into the past Summer program in civil and environmental engineering examines the intersection of modern engineering and cultural heritage. Thu, 19 Sep 2019 14:30:01 -0400 Taylor De Leon | Fatima Husain | Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering <p>Remnants of ancient Roman structures withstand centuries of wear and warfare across Europe, recording the history and culture of the people who lived around them. But hidden within mortar, and hinted by delicate cracks and chips, the structures record something else that could improve how similar materials are built today: ancient engineering.</p> <p>For the fourth summer in a row, 16 rising sophomores visited civilization-spanning structures and monuments in Italy through the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s ONE-MA3 program, which integrates the study of art, architecture, and archaeology. During the three-week field course, which is supported by the&nbsp;<a href="">AREA3 Association</a>&nbsp;(Associazione per la Ricerca e l'Educazione nell'Arte, Archeologia e Architettura), students conducted research on ancient artifacts and structural materials to inspire new research projects grounded in time, which they explore further in the fall semester in 1.057 (Heritage Science and Technology).&nbsp;</p> <p>Admir Masic, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering who leads the program, says, “Bringing students into the field is the easiest way to stimulate their curiosity.” Along with CEE, Masic is also an archaeological materials faculty fellow for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) at the Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology (CMRAE). In his research, Masic and his team apply principles of chemistry and materials science to characterize and organize human-made materials used both in the past and at present.&nbsp;</p> <p>ONE-MA3 “offers students a hands-on experience to learn about how materials are the backbone of infrastructure, and how the field has evolved over thousands of years,” says McAfee Professor of Engineering and CEE department head Markus Buehler. Buehler considers the summer program a quintessential MIT experience — by studying ancient construction materials in the field, students are able to connect theoretical concepts to practical settings, and can begin to tackle modern issues in construction.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Constructing sustainable structures</strong></p> <p>One material, Roman concrete, served as the foundation for the course. Unlike the quick-to-disintegrate, weather-sensitive and pothole-prone concrete used to construct roads and highways today, Roman concrete hardens and repairs itself in the presence of water.&nbsp;</p> <p>Conventional modern concrete is usually composed of three materials: water, rock, and cement. However, that formula is deceptively simple: The specific compositions of those materials can make or break the resulting structure. In the case of Roman concrete, those specific compositions are not well understood, only archived in the structures themselves.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Understanding the reasons behind the resilience of Roman concrete could pave new paths,” says Janille Maragh, a graduate student and three-time teaching assistant for the program who worked alongside graduate student Linda Seymour. “It’s one thing to do research using cultural heritage data, but without context, it’s difficult to grasp the magnitude of the problem.”&nbsp;</p> <p>To kick off the summer program, students gathered at the castle in Sermoneta, a historical village located in the Italian countryside. There, they learned about the significance of lime, a key ingredient in Roman concrete, and they tried their hand at composing Roman concrete using different aggregates such as&nbsp;pozzolana<em> </em>(volcanic ash),&nbsp;cocciopesto (ground clay bricks), and pumice under the instruction of local guest lecturers. The aggregates studied were readily present in different environmental and volcanic settings in ancient Rome, and don’t require a carbon emission-heavy industrial process to create, unlike aggregates and materials used in modern concrete today.&nbsp;</p> <p>One main goal of this specific exercise, and the program in general, is to elicit creative and advanced ways to engineer new materials and technologies. Through experimentation with different materials, proportions, and compression testing of the resulting samples and structures, students learned first-hand the challenges behind creating mortars that are both durable and sustainable. They presented the reasoning behind their chosen compositions to their peers ahead of their next lessons.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Traveling time</strong></p> <p>Reflecting the Institute’s motto, "mens et manus" ("mind and hand"), Masic led students on excursions to various historical and archeological sites around Italy to give students the opportunity to interact with different materials, examine their uses first-hand, and contemplate the cultural significance of ancient structures and the materials that built them. Through lectures and field exercises, students studied the chemical makeup, historical significance, and conservation methods of preserved structures in order to set the stage for future engineers to build structures that last and positively impact society.&nbsp;</p> <p>“My hope for ONE-MA3 is that this experience will allow participants to grow as humans and as students,” Masic says. “The program allows students to view our modern world with a completely new perspective.”&nbsp;</p> <p>By using ancient Roman materials as the building blocks for modern structures in the presence of architectural and structural paragons, students were exposed to a learning opportunity not available in the classrooms of Cambridge, Massachusetts.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sophomore Anna Landler, a student who participated in the 2019 iteration of ONE-MA3, says the program helped her grasp concepts crucial to civil and environmental engineering that would take months to understand in the classroom. “Being out in the field, where we were able to see and feel these objects, helps me understand them better and know how they interact with the world around us … I wouldn’t be nearly as inspired as I would be if it was in a lecture format or a textbook.”&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition to studying ancient technologies, students learned about restoration, the practice of best preserving artifacts. In a tour of the Vatican museum, students heard from Guy Devreux, the head of the museum’s laboratory for stone conservation, as he described and showed them behind-the-scenes restoration of marble sculptures. Sophomore Sophia Mittman, a student majoring in materials science and engineering, says the experience enhanced her passion for conservation. “Everything we learned came alive right in front of us, whether it was producing 3-D models of structures and statues … It is an incredible way to learn from ancient technologies and discover how they can be adapted and applied to modern technology today,” states Mittman.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The students also visited Pompeii — the ancient city buried by four to six meters of volcanic ash due to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Excavations at Pompeii offer archeologists a glimpse into Roman life, freezing people and their environments in time. There, students were presented with a pressing issue: No one knows how to effectively preserve Pompeii and its ruins. They also explored the American Academy in Rome with the Director and MIT Professor John Ochsendorf, where they examined significant ancient texts, such as Galileo Galilei’s original works and the first edition of the Italian copy of Vitruvius.&nbsp;</p> <p>Motivated by a newfound passion for cultural heritage, students next studied photogrammetry for 3-D modeling in an effort to digitally document and preserve museum artifacts and structures. “I think there is an intriguing combination between using digital arts and media in order to explain these engineering concepts to those who may not understand it as well, or don’t have the kind of opportunity to meet with experts and professors, it is definitely important to reach youth around the world and encourage them. I felt that I have been able to explore my interests during the program, and it has allowed me to ask questions and grow a lot,” says sophomore Ben Bartschi.</p> <p><strong>Looking forward</strong></p> <p>After exploring the extravagant baroque palaces in Turin, the students made their way to the Egyptian Museum, Museo Egizio, where they had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and investigate ancient Egyptian artifacts, roughly 3,000 years old. They used non-invasive characterization tools to study and collect data on the centuries-old materials. They also learned about the fascinating Egyptian Blue pigment, invented 5,000 years ago, which continues to be used in modern science and technology today.</p> <p>“The fact that we are dedicating so much time to ourselves to engage in this process makes us realize the amount of time, care, and importance of conservation,” Landler says. Without visiting and studying ancient materials, structures, and cultural artifacts in their environments, “you don’t really understand the labor that goes into this job.”&nbsp;</p> <p>With each iteration of the program, ONE-MA3 students learn the significance of looking into the past to inspire innovation today, and the imperative cultural heritage enabled and preserved due to feats of civil, environmental, and material engineering. Many, including Masic, are excited to see the acquired knowledge applied as students begin the new academic year.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Advancement lies at the interface of various disciplines,” says Masic. “To be able to innovate, we need to observe and challenge many different perspectives. When it comes to ancient technologies, this holds true as well: It’s a great avenue for innovation, and we hope to translate that into inspiration for modern materials and structures.”</p> <p>Contributors to ONE-MA3 include: Restorer and art conservator Roberto Scalesse from the Società Erresse, IT specialist Gianfranco Quaranta from the Artech Laboratories srl, chemist and conservation scientist Marco Nicola from the Adamantio srl and the University of Turin, professor of archaeology and ancient technology Dorothy Hosler from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, Duncan Keenan-Jones from University of Queensland, Christian Greco and Enrico Ferraris from the Museo Egizio, Guy Devreux from the Musei Vaticani, Tommaso Agnoni from the Roffredo Caetani Foundation, Francesco Di Mario from the Soprintendenza Archeologia and Belle Arti e Paesaggio per le Provincie di Frosinone and Latina e Rieti, Lisa Accurti from the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio Città Metropolitana di Torino, Bruno de Nigris and Massimo Osanna from the Parco Archeologico di Pompei, Mastro Gilberto Quarneti, Gianni Nerobutto from the Calchèra San Giorgio, Alessandro and Gian Luigi Nicola from the Nicola Restauri srl, Mauro Volpiano and Claudia Cassatella from the Politecnico di Torino, Riccardo Antonino from Società Robin and Politecnico di Torino, Stefano Trucco and Anna Piccirillo from the Centro per la Conservazione e Restauro “La Venaria Reale,” Dario Parigi from the Aalborg University, Michal Ganobjak from the Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Chiara Mastreopolito, Alessandro Marello and Alessandro Bazzacco from the Adamantio srl, Piercarlo Innico from the Associazione Acropolis, Giuseppe Donnaloia from Società CACO3, Franco Vitelli from Società Sectilia, and freelancers Michele Sinisi, Claudia Rivoli, Francesca Mancinelli, and Livio Secco.&nbsp;</p> MIT engineering students display the frescoes and mosaics that they created at the Caetani Castle in Sermoneta, Italy. Photo: Max KesslerCivil and environmental engineering, School of Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Concrete, Architecture, Anthropology, Classes and programs, History, STEM education, DMSE, Global, International initiatives Uncovering links between architecture, politics, and society “Every building is ultimately a compromise” involving many stakeholders, says architectural historian Timothy Hyde. Tue, 10 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0400 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office <p>A building is many things: a stylistic statement, a form shaped to its function, and a reflection of its era.</p> <p>To MIT architectural historian Timothy Hyde, a building represents something else as well.</p> <p>“Every building is ultimately a compromise,” says Hyde. “It’s a compromise between the intentions of architects, the capacities of builders, economics, politics, the people who use the building, the people who paid for the building. It’s a compromise of many, many inputs.”</p> <p>Even when architecture is stylish and trend-setting, then, buildings are developed within political, legal, and technological limits. And Hyde, formerly a practicing architect himself, has built a niche for himself at MIT as a scholar exploring those issues.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a relatively short span, Hyde, an associate professor at MIT, has written two books on the relationship between architecture and society, one exploring modernism and democracy in 20th&nbsp;century Cuba, and the other looking at the connections between architecture and power in modern Britain.</p> <p>In both, Hyde, whose sharp archival work matches his grasp of buildings, shows how buildings have co-evolved along with the political and legal practices of the contemporary world.</p> <p>“I really think about myself first as a historian of modernity,” Hyde explains. “Architectural history is the particular vehicle that I use to explore the history of modernity.”</p> <p><strong>The writing on the wall</strong></p> <p>Hyde grew up in New York City’s Greenwich Village and double-majored in English and architecture at Yale University. He then received a master of architecture degree from Princeton University and became a practicing architect, mostly working on residences. But he kept writing about architecture, a fairly common practice in the field.</p> <p>“In architecture, as a profession, writing has always been a companion to the building,” Hyde says. “Many architects write.” But before long, he says, “I just had a recognition that the ideas I wanted to explore were best expressed through writing, as opposed to through building.”</p> <p>At about the same time, Hyde was teaching a course at Northeastern University and soon realized he wanted to fully commit to the academic life.</p> <p>“Instead of trying to write alongside my practice, I realized at that point I wanted to flip the two around and focus on writing as a historian, and to be able to teach and work in academia but still remain engaged in a contemporary conversation about architecture,” Hyde says.</p> <p>Hyde thus returned to school, earning his PhD at Harvard University. He sought out an academic position, and at MIT, has landed in the Program in History, Theory, and Criticism, a highly active group of architectural and art historians within the School of Architecture and Planning.</p> <p>“We’re a humanities discipline, but we’re affiliated very tightly to a professional practice that is itself a composite of art and engineering,” Hyde says. “So the role of the historian within the architecture program is a very broad one. We can talk about many facets of buildings.”</p> <p><strong>Cuba, Britain, and … the South Pole?</strong></p> <p>One hallmark of architectural history at MIT is geographic scope: Professors at the Institute have often made a point of examining the subject in global terms. Hyde takes that approach as well.</p> <p>Hyde’s 2012 book on Cuba — “Constitutional Modernism: Architecture and Civil Society in Cuba, 1933-1959” — stemmed from his realization that Cuba at the time “was an incredibly exciting and fertile place for cultural exchanges and avant-garde aesthetics, and had an economic boom that allowed the commissioning of very innovative projects.”</p> <p>When Cuba drafted a new constitution in the 1940s, philosophers, artists, and writers were a part of the process. Architectural thinking, Hyde contends, was an integral part of the planning and vision of the country — although that became discarded after Cuba’s communist revolution of the late 1950s.</p> <p>“I wrote about the relationship between a national project that was being articulated in political and legal terms, and a national project that was being articulated in terms of architecture and planning,” Hyde says.</p> <p>His book on Britain — “Ugliness and Judgment,” published in 2019 — explores several distinct episodes in which aesthetic disagreements over architecture in London helped produce modern social and legal practices. For instance, Britain’s libel law took shape in response to failed lawsuits filed by Sir John Soane, whose early 19th-century buildings were the object of stinging put-downs from critics.</p> <p>Moreover, in Britain, environmental science and policy have important roots in a controversy of the Houses of Parliament, rebuilt in stone in the 1840s. When the parliament building quickly became smothered in soot, it instigated a decades-long process in which the country gradually charted out new antipollution laws.</p> <p>Hyde is currently working on a third book project, which looks at the historical legacy of buildings that have vanished, from Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond to shelters in Antarctica. Their presence as architectural objects was crucial to the people who inhabited them; Hyde is exploring how this shapes our understanding of the history surrounding them.</p> <p>“Thoreau’s cabin at Walden has an enormous textual presence, but it has virtually no physical presence,” Hyde says. “If the architecture is so central to Thoreau’s book, yet no longer has a presence as a material object, how should architectural history approach that?”</p> <p><strong>Working well with others</strong></p> <p>Beyond his own work, Hyde has helped establish a new, cooperative group of scholars in his field, the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative.</p> <p>The group holds workshops and produces published volumes and pamphlets in architectural history, to aid scholars who often work in isolation. Their edited volume, “Governing by Design: Architecture, Economy, and Politics in the Twentieth Century,” was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.</p> <p>The idea, Hyde says, is “to try to allow for a collaborative conversation that is otherwise not cultivated very strongly within the field.” The group’s in-depth workshops provide scholars with substantive feedback about works in progress.</p> <p>“Having a workshop where you can spend two days talking about each other’s work is an enormous luxury, and something that I have not experienced elsewhere in our field,” Hyde says.</p> <p>Scholars participating in the collaborative can thus can enjoy a win-win situation, pursuing their own work while getting help from others. Perhaps every building is a compromise — but architectural history don’t have to be one.</p> “I really think about myself first as a historian of modernity,” says Associate Professor Timothy Hyde. “Architectural history is the particular vehicle that I use to explore the history of modernity.”Image: Bryce VickmarkSchool of Architecture and Planning, Architecture, Design, History, Law, Politics, Faculty, Profile, Program in HTC 3Q: Jeremy Gregory on measuring the benefits of hazard resilience MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub scientist explains how rating systems akin to LEED for resilient construction can make communities more hazard-resistant. Wed, 07 Aug 2019 12:30:01 -0400 Andrew Logan | Concrete Sustainability Hub <p><em>According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the combined cost of natural disasters in the United States was $91 billion in 2018. The year before, natural disasters inflicted even greater damage — $306.2 billion. Traditionally, investment in mitigating these damages has gone toward disaster response. While important, disaster response is only one part of disaster mitigation. By putting more resources into disaster readiness, communities can reduce the time it takes to recover from a disaster while decreasing loss of life and damage costs. Experts refer to this preemptive approach as resilience.</em></p> <p><em>Resilience entails a variety of actions. In the case of individual buildings, it can be as straightforward as increasing the nail size in roof panels, using thicker windows, and increasing the resistance of roof shingles. On a broader scale, it involves predicting vulnerabilities in a community and preparing for surge pricing and other economic consequences associated with disasters.</em></p> <p><em>MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub Executive Director Jeremy Gregory weighs in on why resilience hasn’t been widely adopted in the United States and what can be done to change that.</em></p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>What is resilience in the context of disaster mitigation?<strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>A:</strong> Resilience is how one responds to a change, usually that is in the context of some type of disaster — whether it’s natural or manmade. There are three components of resilience: How significant is the damage due to the disaster? How long does it take to recover? What is the level of recovery after a certain amount of time?</p> <p>It’s important to invest in resilience since we can mitigate significant expenses and loss of life due to disasters before they occur. So, if we build more resilient in the first place, then we don’t end up spending as much on the response to a disaster and communities can more quickly become operational again.</p> <p>Generally, building construction is not particularly resilient. That’s primarily because the incentives aren’t aligned for creating resilient construction. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which handles disaster response, invests significantly more in post-disaster mitigation efforts than it does in pre-disaster mitigation efforts — the funds are an order of magnitude greater for the former. Part of that could be that we’re relying on an agency that’s primarily focused on emergency response to help us prepare for avoiding an emergency response. But primarily, that’s because when buildings are purchased, we don’t have information on the resiliency of the building.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>What is needed to make resilience more widely adopted?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> Essentially, we need a robust approach for quantifying the benefits of resilience for a diverse range of contexts. For a lot of buildings, the construction decisions are not made in consultation with the ultimate owner of the building. A developer has to make decisions based on what they think the owner will value. And right now, owners don’t communicate that they value resilience. I think a big part of that is that they don’t have enough quantitative information about why one building is more resilient than another.</p> <p>So, for example, when it comes to the fuel economy of our automobiles, we now have a consistent way to measure that fuel economy and communicate fuel consumption costs over the life cycle of the vehicle. Or similarly, we have a way of measuring the energy consumption of appliances that we buy and quantifying those costs throughout the product life. We currently don’t have a robust system for quantifying the resilience of a building and how that will translate into costs associated with repairs due to hazards over the lifetime of the building.</p> <p><strong>Q: </strong>Is building resilient expensive?<strong> </strong></p> <p><strong>A: </strong>Building resilient does not have to be significantly more expensive than conventional construction. Our research has shown that more resilient construction can cost less than 10 percent more than conventional construction. But those increased initial costs are offset by lower expenses associated with hazard repairs over the lifetime of the building. So, in some of the cases we looked at in residential construction, the payback periods for the more hazard-resistant construction were five years or less in areas prone to hurricane damage. Our other research on the break-even mitigation percentage has shown that, in some of the most hurricane-prone areas, you can spend up to nearly 20 percent more on the initial investment of the building and break even on your expenses over a 30-year period, including from the damages due to hazards, compared to a conventional building that will sustain more damage.</p> <p>It’s important for owners to know how significant these costs are and what the life-cycle benefits are for more hazard-resistant construction<strong>. </strong>Once developers know that homeowners value that information, that will create more market demand for hazard-resistant construction and ultimately lead to the development of safer and more resilient communities.</p> <p>A similar shift has occurred in the demand for green buildings, and that’s primarily due to rating systems like LEED [<span class="ILfuVd"><span class="e24Kjd">Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design]</span></span>: developers now construct buildings with green rating systems because they know there is a market premium for those buildings, since owners value them. We need to create a similar kind of demand for resilient construction.</p> <p>There are several resilient rating systems already in place. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, for example, has developed the <a href="">Fortified</a> rating system, which informs homeowners and builders about hazard risks and ranks building designs according to certain levels of protection. The U.S. Resiliency Council’s <a href="">Building Rating System</a> is another model that offers four rating levels and currently focuses primarily on earthquakes. Additionally, there is the <a href="">REli</a> rating by the U.S. Green Building Council — the same organization that runs the LEED ratings. These are all good efforts to communicate resilient construction, but there are also opportunities to incorporate more quantitative estimates of resilience into the rating systems.</p> <p>The rise of these kinds of resilience rating systems is particularly timely since the annual cost of hazard-induced damage is expected to increase over the next century due to climate change and development in hazard-prone areas. But with new standards for quantifying resilience, we can motivate hazard-resistant construction that protects communities and mitigates the consequences of climate change.</p> An aerial photograph of a home built to FEMA standards in the aftermath of Hurricane KatrinaPhoto: John Fleck/Wikimedia CommonsConcrete Sustainability Hub, Civil and environmental engineering, School of Engineering, Sustainability, Hurricanes, Natural disasters, Climate change, Urban studies and planning, Architecture Tekuma Frenchman designs new marine city in China School of Architecture and Planning alumni and faculty team up to create an ecologically restorative urban waterfront. Wed, 24 Jul 2019 13:50:01 -0400 Devi Lockwood | School of Architecture and Planning <p>Following their graduation in 2016, two dual-degree students from the MIT Center for Real Estate (CRE) and the Department of Architecture — Kun Qian MSRED '16, MArch ’16 and Marwan Aboudib MSRED '16, MArch ’16 — asked Professor Dennis Frenchman if he would join with their firm, Tekuma, to create an international design practice. &nbsp;</p> <p>“They came to me and said, ‘Look, we have this project opportunity in Jinan, [China],’” says Frenchman, the Class of ’22 Professor of Urban Design and Planning and now CRE director. “Would you like to join us?”</p> <p>Frenchman said yes. The resulting urban design and innovation studio, <a href="">Tekuma Frenchman</a>, practices worldwide, applying Frenchman’s research at MIT to many scales of intervention — from planning cities for millions in China to art and cultural installations in the Middle East and Boston, Massachusetts. In addition to Qian, Aboudib, and Frenchman, the partnership includes urban designer Naomi Hebert and a staff of 10 working in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Dubai; and Beijing. &nbsp;</p> <p>The firm’s projects include design of Seoul Digital Media City in South Korea; the Digital Mile in Zaragoza, Spain; Ciudad Creativa Digital, Guadalajara, Mexico; Media City: UK in England; Twofour54 in Abu Dhabi; Jinan North New District and Chanqing University City in China; and, more recently, projects in cities across the Middle East. &nbsp;</p> <p>In 2018, Tekuma Frenchman won the <a href="">Shenzhen New Marine City International Design Competition</a> in China. Their design, titled “Ocean Edge,” will be home to 50,000 people on 5.5 square kilometers of reclaimed land.</p> <p>The competition was part of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan for the Development of the National Marine Economy, which aims to advance manufacturing industry along China’s southern coast.</p> <p>Shenzhen is a city of more than 12 million in the Guangdong province of southern China, where Hong Kong links to China’s mainland. Shenzhen was the first special economic zone in China that encouraged outside investment and is the home to high-tech industries in computer science, robotics, artificial intelligence, and data storage.</p> <p>The urban design competition for Shenzhen New Marine City received over 140 design submissions from international firms. A jury of nine design professionals and senior academics selected Tekuma Frenchman’s proposal. The organizers wanted a scheme that would be both innovative and operable, and become a world-class demonstration site for the future of marine economy and sustainability.</p> <p>Frenchman’s winning scheme integrates marine ecology, marine industry, marine culture, and coastal landscape, providing the design framework for a visionary development. Land reclamation for Ocean Edge has already begun, and key aspects of the development will be in place by 2022. It is expected that the project will take about 20 years to complete.</p> <p><strong>Piers and mangroves as a solution</strong></p> <p>The waterfront site poses many challenges. To minimize the use of fill and disruption of water flow, Tekuma Frenchman decided to put parts of the city on piers, islands, and autonomous floating structures.</p> <p>A 1-kilometer central entertainment pier will connect Shenzhen’s convention center with the ocean and anchor recreation areas along the waterfront. This pier and boardwalk area includes a ferry terminal, port offices, deep-sea aquarium, theater, cinemas, clubs, water sports, seafood restaurants, and specialty retail shops.</p> <p>Tekuma Frenchman’s design will regenerate an indigenous mangrove forest to protect the shoreline from waves, retain soil, support biodiversity, and help clean the water. The design also provides a habitat for fish. The growth of the forest will be monitored by sensors controlling the mix of freshwater runoff with salt water, ensuring an ideal habitat for optimum growth of marine fauna and flora. In this way, Ocean Edge both senses and responds to the natural environment.</p> <p>Sea-level rise and storm surge from the South China Sea is a concern in Shenzhen. Ocean Edge helps prevent flooding by using the regenerated mangrove forest as a natural protection from storm surge. “There’s a sustainable matrix into which this contemporary city is built,” Frenchman says.</p> <p><strong>Promoting ocean industry</strong></p> <p>The heartbeat of the city is a new industry cluster dedicated to deep-sea exploration and resource extraction, using autonomous undersea vehicles.</p> <p>Robotic vehicles will be researched, developed, and deployed from Ocean Edge to, for example, scavenge manganese nodules from the ocean floor or to manage fish and agricultural production. A spine of development, accessible directly to the water, will house private labs, academic research institutions, and public agencies devoted to understanding and exploiting the resources of the South China Sea.</p> <p>Production and manufacturing for this industry cluster are woven in with housing and entertainment.</p> <p>“Most of the new cities out there are built as places to consume — shopping, eating, culture,” Frenchman says. “What’s interesting about the Ocean Edge design in Shenzhen is its focus on making a productive city with emerging 21st century industries and lifestyles at its heart. Ocean Edge will become a key link in the chain of manufacturing cities which make up the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Innovation Corridor.”</p> <p>“Over the years we have been researching and implementing a new methodology to design cities that celebrate production, making places that are human-centric and productive,” says Kun Qian. “We believe that the future is moving toward a productive urbanism, where companies from all economic sectors also participate in the shaping of our public realm and creating unique experiences for people. The Ocean Edge proposal is a great testimony to this approach.”</p> <p>“What differentiates our firm is that our work goes beyond design,” says partner Marwan Aboudib. “The key is our integration of design with real estate economics and technology. Our understanding and ability to bring those domains together enables us to create more vibrant cities in which people can excel. We make it possible for cities to thrive, which creates stronger returns for businesses and residents.”</p> <p>For a video of Tekuma Frenchman’s winning design, see <a href="">Vimeo.</a></p> Mangroves will protect the shoreline from waves, retain soil, support biodiversity, and help clean the water. Image: Tekuma FrenchmanCenter for Real Estate, Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Alumni/ae, Faculty, China, Design, Transportation, Cities, Urban studies and planning, Sustainability MIT and Fashion Institute of Technology join forces to create innovative textiles Advanced functional fabrics workshop, held jointly with AFFOA and industrial partner New Balance, develops concepts for biodegradable footwear, active textiles. Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:00:02 -0400 Materials Research Laboratory <p>If you knew that hundreds of millions of running shoes are <a href="">disposed of in landfills</a> each year, would you prefer a high-performance athletic shoe that is biodegradable? Would being able to monitor your fitness in real time and help you avoid injury while you are running appeal to you? If so, look no further than the collaboration between MIT and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).&nbsp;</p> <p>For the second consecutive year, students from each institution teamed up for two weeks in late June to create product concepts exploring the use of advanced fibers and technology. The workshops were held collaboratively with Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (<a href="">AFFOA</a>), a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based national nonprofit whose goal is to enable a manufacturing-based transformation of traditional fibers, yarns, and textiles into highly sophisticated, integrated, and networked devices and systems.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Humans have made use of natural fibers for millennia. They are essential as tools, clothing and shelter,” says <a href="">Gregory C. Rutledge</a>, lead principal investigator for MIT in AFFOA and the Lammot du Pont Professor in Chemical Engineering. “Today, new fiber-based solutions can have a significant and timely impact on the challenges facing our world.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The students had the opportunity this year to respond to a project challenge posed by footwear and apparel manufacturer New Balance, a member of the AFFOA network. Students spent their first week in Cambridge learning new technologies at MIT and the second at FIT, a college of the State University of New York, in New York City working on projects and prototypes. On the last day of the workshop, the teams presented their final projects at the headquarters of Lafayette 148 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, with New Balance Creative Manager of Computational Design Onur Yuce Gun in attendance.</p> <p>Team<em> </em>Natural Futurism presented a concept to develop a biodegradable lifestyle shoe using natural material alternatives, including bacterial cellulose and mycelium, and advanced fiber concepts to avoid use of chemical dyes. The result was a shoe that is both sustainable and aesthetic. Team members included: Giulia de Garay (FIT, Textile Development and Marketing), Rebecca Grekin ’19 (Chemical Engineering), rising senior Kedi Hu (Chemical Engineering/Architecture), Nga Yi "Amy" Lam (FIT, Textile Development and Marketing), Daniella Koller (FIT, Fashion Design), and Stephanie Stickle (FIT, Textile Surface Design).</p> <p>Team CoMIT to Safety Before ProFIT<em> </em>explored the various ways that runners get hurt, sometimes from acute injuries but more often from overuse. Their solution was to incorporate intuitive textiles, as well as tech elements such as a silent alarm and LED display, into athletic clothing and shoes for entry-level, competitive, and expert runners. The goal is to help runners at all levels to eliminate distraction, know their physical limits, and be able to call for help. Team members included Rachel Cheang (FIT, Fashion Design/Knitwear), Jonathan Mateer (FIT, Accessories Design), Caroline Liu ’19 (Materials Science and Engineering), and Xin Wen ’19 (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science).</p> <p>"It is critical for design students to work in a team environment engaging in the latest technologies. This interaction will support the invention of products that will define our future," comments <a href="">Joanne Arbuckle</a>, deputy to the president for industry partnerships and collaborative programs at FIT.</p> <p>The specific content of this workshop was co-designed by MIT postdocs Katia Zolotovsky of the Department of Biological Engineering and Mehmet Kanik of the Research Laboratory of Electronics, with assistant professor of fashion design Andy Liu from FIT, to teach the fundamentals of fiber fabrication, 3-D printing with light, sensing, and biosensing. Participating MIT faculty included Yoel Fink, who is CEO of AFFOA and professor of materials science and electrical engineering; Polina Anikeeva, who is associate professor in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences; and Nicholas Xuanlai Fang, professor of mechanical engineering. Participating FIT faculty were Preeti Arya, assistant professor, Textile Development and Marketing; Patrice George, associate professor, Textile Development and Marketing; Suzanne Goetz, associate professor, Textile Surface Design; Tom Scott, Fashion Design; David Ulan, adjunct assistant professor, Accessories Design; and Gregg Woodcock, adjunct instructor, Accessories Design. &nbsp;</p> <p>To facilitate the intersection of design and engineering for products made of advanced functional fibers, yarns, and textiles, a brand-new workforce must be created and inspired by future opportunities. “The purpose of the program is to bring together undergraduate students from different backgrounds, and provide them with a cross-disciplinary, project-oriented experience that gets them thinking about what can be done with these new materials,” Rutledge adds.&nbsp;</p> <p>The goal of MIT, FIT, AFFOA, and industrial partner New Balance is to accelerate innovation in high-tech, U.S.-based manufacturing involving fibers and textiles, and potentially to create a whole new industry based on breakthroughs in fiber technology and manufacturing. AFFOA, a Manufacturing Innovation Institute founded in 2016, is a public-private partnership between industry, academia, and both state and federal governments.</p> <p>“Collaboration and teamwork are DNA-level attributes of the New Balance workplace,” says Chris Wawrousek, senior creative design lead in the NB Innovation Studio. “We were very excited to participate in the program from a multitude of perspectives. The program allowed us to see some of the emerging research in the field of technical textiles. In some cases, these technologies are still very nascent, but give us a window into future developments.” &nbsp;</p> <p>“The diverse pairing and short time period also remind us of the energy captured in an academic crash course, and just how much teams can do in a condensed period of time,” Wawrousek adds. “Finally, it’s a great chance to connect with this future generation of designers and engineers, hopefully giving them an exciting window into the work of our brand.”</p> <p>By building upon their different points of view from design and science, the teams demonstrated what is possible when creative individuals from each area act and think as one. “When designers and engineers come together and open their minds to creating new technologies that ultimately will impact the world, we can imagine exciting new multi-material fibers that open up a new spectrum of applications in various markets, from clothing to medical and beyond,” says Yuly Fuentes, MIT Materials Research Laboratory project manager for fiber technologies.&nbsp;</p> Summer 2019 MIT and FIT AFFOA Workshop in Advanced Functional Fabrics participantsPhoto: Garrett SouzaMaterials Research Laboratory, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical engineering, Design, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, School of Engineering, Collaboration, Classes and programs, Technology and society, DMSE, Chemical engineering, Students, Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Arts Philip Freelon, professor of the practice and champion of diversity in architecture, dies at 66 Noted architect designed landmark civic, cultural, and educational buildings. Mon, 15 Jul 2019 09:00:00 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning <p>Philip G. Freelon MArch ’77, professor of the practice in the MIT Department of Architecture, lead architect for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and a dedicated force for inclusivity within the field of architecture, died on July 9 in Durham, North Carolina, of the neuro-degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), with which he had been diagnosed in 2016. He was 66.</p> <p>For nine years beginning in 2007, Freelon taught 4.222 (Professional Practice), a required subject in the master’s in architecture program that uses current examples to illustrate the legal, ethical, and management concepts underlying the practice of architecture.</p> <p>“Phil was a remarkable architect, a motivating teacher, a spirited public intellectual and above all, an exceptional human being whose modesty and respect of others and their ideas put the best face on the architect and on the profession,” says Hashim Sarkis, dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P).&nbsp;</p> <p>A native of Philadelphia, Freelon attended Hampton University in Virginia before transferring to North Carolina State University, from which he graduated in 1975 with a bachelor of environmental design degree in architecture. He earned his master’s degree in architecture from MIT and at age 25 was the youngest person to pass the Architecture Registration Exam in North Carolina.</p> <p>The Freelon Group, which he founded in 1990, became one of the largest African American-owned architectural firms in the country.</p> <p>“Phil Freelon was a creative and productive alumnus of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning,” says Adèle Naudé Santos, SA+P dean when Freelon joined the faculty. “His buildings are beautifully crafted and spatially inventive, and we were proud to have him on our faculty. We are greatly saddened by his passing.”</p> <p>Freelon headed multifaceted design teams for museum projects and cultural institutions such as the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture in Charlotte, Emancipation Park in Houston, and the Anacostia and Tenleytown branches of the District of Columbia Public Library System.</p> <p>The practice joined with three other design firms as Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup to create the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. As lead architect and architect of record for the project, on which David Adjaye was lead designer, Freelon directed the programming and planning effort that set the stage for the museum’s design.&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2014, The Freelon Group joined global design firm Perkins and Will. Recent and current projects led by Freelon include North Carolina Freedom Park in Raleigh, the Durham County Human Services Complex, the Durham Transportation Center, and the Motown Museum Expansion in Detroit. He was appointed to the board of directors and the executive committee of Perkins and Will while serving dual roles as managing director and design director of the firm’s North Carolina practice.</p> <p>In addition to his role at MIT, he was an adjunct faculty member at North Carolina State University’s College of Design and lectured at Harvard University (where he was a Loeb Fellow), the University of Maryland, Syracuse University, Auburn University, the University of Utah, the University of California at Berkeley, Kent State University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, among others. A Peer Professional for the GSA’s Design Excellence Program, he also served on numerous design award juries including the National AIA Institute Honor Awards jury and the National Endowment for the Arts Design Stewardship Panel.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Phil was one of the hardest working people I ever knew,” said Lawrence Sass, associate professor in the Department of Architecture at MIT and director of the computation group. “I could not believe that someone so humble could have done so much. He was a dedicated professor in addition to being a trusted design professional, and a leader who lived in the spirit of a design giant. He taught from real-world experience. He was emotionally and professionally accessible. I will forever miss and remember his larger-than-life presence walking down the Infinite Corridor.”</p> <p>Freelon was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and the recipient of the AIA North Carolina’s Gold Medal, its highest individual honor. A LEED Accredited Professional, he was the 2009 recipient of the AIA Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture, and in 2011 was appointed by President Obama to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. The Freelon Group received 26 AIA design awards (regional, state, and local) and received AIA North Carolina’s Outstanding Firm Award (2001). Freelon’s furniture design received first prize in the PPG Furniture Design Competition, and he did design contract work with Herman Miller.</p> <p>His work has appeared in national professional publications including <em>Architecture</em>, <em>Progressive Architecture</em>, <em>Architectural Record</em>, and <em>Contract</em> magazine (Designer of the Year, 2008), and his and the firm’s work has been featured in <em>Metropolis</em> and <em>Metropolitan Home</em> magazines and the <em>The New York Times</em>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Freelon is survived by his wife of 40 years, Nnenna Freelon; his children Deen, Maya, and Pierce; three siblings; and six grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held on Sept. 28 at the Durham County Human Services Complex in Durham. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to NorthStar Church of the Arts, a nonprofit art and culture center founded by Nnenna and Phil Freelon.</p> Philip Freelon stands in the lobby of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, designed by the Freelon Group and HOK.Photo: Mark Herboth, courtesy of Perkins and WillAlumni/ae, Faculty, Architecture, Obituaries, History, Design, Diversity and inclusion, School of Architecture and Planning QS ranks MIT the world’s No. 1 university for 2019-20 Ranked at the top for the eighth straight year, the Institute also places first in 11 of 48 disciplines. Tue, 18 Jun 2019 20:01:00 -0400 MIT News Office <p>MIT has again been named the world’s top university by the QS World University Rankings, which were announced today. This is the eighth year in a row MIT has received this distinction.</p> <p>The full 2019-20 rankings — published by Quacquarelli Symonds, an organization specializing in education and study abroad — can be found at <a href=""></a>. The QS rankings were based on academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty, student-to-faculty ratio, proportion of international faculty, and proportion of international students. MIT earned a perfect overall score of 100.</p> <p>MIT was also ranked the world’s top university in <a href="">11 of 48 disciplines ranked by QS</a>, as announced in February of this year.</p> <p>MIT received a No. 1 ranking in the following QS subject areas: Chemistry; Computer Science and Information Systems; Chemical Engineering; Civil and Structural Engineering; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering; Linguistics; Materials Science; Mathematics; Physics and Astronomy; and Statistics and Operational Research.</p> <p>MIT also placed second in six subject areas: Accounting and Finance; Architecture/Built Environment; Biological Sciences; Earth and Marine Sciences; Economics and Econometrics; and Environmental Sciences.</p> Image: Christopher HartingRankings, Architecture, Chemical engineering, Chemistry, Civil and environmental engineering, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), Economics, Linguistics, Materials Science and Engineering, DMSE, Mechanical engineering, Aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Physics, Business and management, Accounting, Finance, Arts, Design, Mathematics, EAPS, School of Architecture and Planning, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, School of Science, School of Engineering, Sloan School of Management Transmedia Storytelling Initiative launches with $1.1 million gift Program creates a new hub for pedagogy and research in time-based media. Wed, 12 Jun 2019 10:00:00 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning <p>Driven by the rise of transformative digital technologies and the proliferation of data, human storytelling is rapidly evolving in ways that challenge and expand our very understanding of narrative. Transmedia — where stories and data operate across multiple platforms and social transformations — and its wide range of theoretical, philosophical, and creative perspectives, needs shared critique around making and understanding.</p> <p>MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P), working closely with faculty in the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) and others across the Institute, has launched the Transmedia Storytelling Initiative under the direction of Professor Caroline Jones, an art historian, critic, and curator in the History, Theory, Criticism section of SA+P’s Department of Architecture. The initiative will build on MIT’s bold tradition of art education, research, production, and innovation in media-based storytelling, from film through augmented reality. Supported by a foundational gift from David and Nina Fialkow, this initiative will create an influential hub for pedagogy and research in time-based media.</p> <p>The goal of the program is to create new partnerships among faculty across schools, offer pioneering pedagogy to students at the graduate and undergraduate levels, convene conversations among makers and theorists of time-based media, and encourage shared debate and public knowledge about pressing social issues, aesthetic theories, and technologies of the moving image.</p> <p>The program will bring together faculty from SA+P and SHASS, including the Comparative Media Studies/Writing program, and from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). The formation of the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing adds another powerful dimension to the collaborative potential.</p> <p>“We are grateful to Nina and David for helping us build on the rich heritage of MIT in this domain and carry it forward,” says SA+P Dean Hashim Sarkis. “Their passion for both innovation and art is invaluable as we embark on this new venture.”</p> <p>The Fialkows’ interest in the initiative stems from their longstanding engagement with filmmaking. David Fialkow, cofounder and managing director of venture capital firm General Catalyst, earned the 2018 Academy Award for producing the year's best documentary, “Icarus<em>.</em>” Nina Fialkow has worked as an independent film producer for PBS as well as on several award-winning documentaries. Nina has served as chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council since 2016.</p> <p>“We are thrilled and humbled to support MIT’s vision for storytelling,” say David and Nina Fialkow. “We hope to tap into our ecosystem of premier thinkers, creators, and funders to grow this initiative into a transformative program for MIT’s students, the broader community, and our society.”</p> <p><strong>The building blocks</strong></p> <p>The Transmedia Storytelling Initiative draws on MIT’s long commitment to provocative work produced at the intersection of art and technology.</p> <p>In 1967, the Department of Architecture established the Film Section and founded the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS). Over time, CAVS brought scores of important video, computer, and “systems” artists to campus. In parallel, the Film Section trained generations of filmmakers as part of Architecture’s Visual Arts Program (VAP). SA+P uniquely brought making together with theorizing, as Urban Studies and Architecture departments fostered sections such as History, Theory, Criticism (HTC), and the Architecture Machine group that became the Media Lab in 1985.</p> <p>A major proponent of “direct cinema,” the Film Section was based in the Department of Architecture until it relocated to the Media Lab. With the retirement of its charismatic leader, Professor Richard Leacock, its energies shifted to the Media Lab’s Interactive Cinema group (1987–2004) under the direction of the lab’s research scientist and Leacock’s former student, Glorianna Davenport.</p> <p>The 1990s’ shift from analog film and video to “digitally convergent” forms (based on bits, bytes, and algorithms) transformed production and critical understanding of time-based media, distributing storytelling and making across the Institute (and across media platforms, going “viral” around the globe).</p> <p>In parallel to Davenport’s Interactive Cinema group and preceding the Media Lab’s Future Storytelling group (2008–2017), the Comparative Media Studies program — now Comparative Media Studies/Writing (CMS/W) — emerged in SHASS in 1999 and quickly proved to be a leader in cross-media studies. The research of CMS/W scholars such as Henry Jenkins gave rise to the terms “transmedia storytelling” and “convergence” that have since become widely adopted.<br /> <br /> The program’s commitment to MIT’s “mens-et-manus” (“mind-and-hand”) ethos takes the form of several field-shaping research labs, including: the Open Documentary Lab, which partners with Sundance and Oculus, explores storytelling and storyfinding with interactive, immersive, and machine learning systems; and the Game Lab, which draws on emergent technologies and partners with colleagues in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering to create rule-based ludic narratives.&nbsp;Current CMS/W faculty such as professors William Uricchio, Nick Montfort, D. Fox Harrell, and Lisa Parks each lead labs that draw fellows and postdocs to their explorations of expressive systems. All have been actively involved in the discussions leading to and shaping this new initiative.</p> <p>Reflecting on the new initiative, Melissa Nobles, Kenan Sahin Dean of SHASS, says, “For more than two decades,&nbsp;the&nbsp;media, writing, and literature faculty in MIT SHASS have been at the forefront of examining the changing nature of media to empower storytelling, collaborating with other schools across the Institute. The Transmedia Initiative will enable our faculty in CMS/W and other disciplines in our school to work with the SA+P faculty and build new partnerships that apply the humanistic lens to emerging media, especially as it becomes increasingly digital and ever more influential in our society.”<br /> <br /> The Transmedia Storytelling initiative will draw on these related conversations across MIT, in the urgent social project of revealing stories created within data by filters and algorithms, as well as producing new stories through the emerging media of the future.</p> <p>“For the first time since the analog days of the Film Section, there will be a shared conversation around the moving image and its relationship to our lived realities,” says Caroline Jones. “Transmedia’s existing capacity to multiply storylines and allow users to participate in co-creation will be amplified by the collaborative force of MIT makers and theorists. MIT is the perfect place to launch this, and now is the time.”</p> <p>Involving members of several schools will be important to the success of the new initiative. Increasingly, faculty across SA+P use moving images, cinematic tropes, and powerful narratives to model potential realities and tell stories with design in the world. Media theorists in SHASS use humanistic tools to decode the stories embedded in our algorithms and the feelings provoked by media, from immersion to surveillance.&nbsp;</p> <p>SA+P’s Art, Culture and Technology program — the successor to VAP and CAVS — currently includes three faculty who are renowned for theorizing and producing innovative forms of what has long been theorized as “expanded cinema”: Judith Barry (filmic installations and media theory); Renée Green (“Free Agent Media,” “Cinematic Migrations”); and Nida Sinnokrot (“Horizontal Cinema”). In these artists’ works, the historical “new media” of cinema is reanimated, deconstructed, and reassembled to address wholly contemporary concerns.</p> <p><strong>Vision for the initiative</strong></p> <p>Understandings of narrative, the making of time-based media, and modes of alternative storytelling go well beyond “film.” CMS in particular ranges across popular culture entities such as music video, computer games, and graphic novels, as well as more academically focused practices from computational poetry to net art.</p> <p>The Transmedia Storytelling Initiative will draw together the various strands of such compelling research and teaching about time-based media to meet the 21st century’s unprecedented demands, including consideration of ethical dimensions.</p> <p>“Stories unwind to reveal humans’ moral thinking,” says Jones. “Implicit in the Transmedia Storytelling Initiative is the imperative to convene an ethical conversation about what narratives are propelling the platforms we share and how we can mindfully create new stories together.”</p> <p>Aiming ultimately for a physical footprint offering gathering, production, and presentation spaces, the initiative will begin to coordinate pedagogy for a proposed undergraduate minor in Transmedia. This course of study will encompass storytelling via production and theory, spanning from computational platforms that convert data to affective videos to artistic documentary forms, to analysis and critique of contemporary media technologies.</p> Left to right: David Fialkow; Nina Fialkow; Melissa Nobles, Kenan Sahin Dean of the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning; and Caroline Jones, professor in the Department of Architecture and director of the Transmedia Storytelling InitiativeGiving, Faculty, Students, Digital humanities, Data, Computation, Classes and programs, Media Lab, School of Architecture and Planning, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Comparative Media Studies/Writing, Computer science and technology, Film and Television, Augmented and virtual reality, School of Engineering, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, History of MIT, Architecture, Arts Untangling the social dynamics of water J-WAFS Fellow and DUSP PhD student Andrea Beck examines the success factors behind water utility partnerships in Africa. Mon, 10 Jun 2019 10:30:01 -0400 Archana Apte | Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab <p>Water operator partnerships, or WOPs, bring together water utility employees from different countries to improve public water delivery and sanitation services. “In these partnerships, interpersonal dynamics are so important,” explains Andrea Beck, “and I’m really passionate about hearing people’s stories.” Beck, a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) and a 2018-19 J-WAFS Fellow for Water Solutions, is studying the dynamics of water operator partnerships to understand how they create mutual benefit for water utilities worldwide.</p> <p>WOPs bring together utilities from different countries as peer-to-peer partnerships to encourage mutual learning. Topics covered by these partnerships range from operational issues to finance and human resources.&nbsp; WOPs were conceived by a United Nations advisory board in 2006 as an alternative to public-private partnerships and have since gained traction across Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with over 200 partnerships formed to date. Beck’s research focuses on the development of WOPs in global policy circles, differences between WOPs and public-private partnerships, and conditions for successful partnerships.</p> <p><strong>A journey of interest</strong></p> <p>Beck’s interest in water issues and African culture began long before she came to MIT. After finishing high school, Beck volunteered at a cultural center in rural Malawi, where she developed an appreciation for cultural immersion. Her undergraduate and master’s work focused on water resources and trans-boundary water cooperation; during her PhD studies at MIT, Beck shifted her focus to urban water issues, seeking a topic that more personally affected people at smaller scale. Water issues “have always been close to my heart,” she explains. When Beck returned to Malawi for her doctoral fieldwork in 2018, she found her urban water perspective “eye-opening.”&nbsp; “I was suddenly seeing all of the valves in the ground. I was looking for pipes,” she explained. “If I hadn’t studied that here [at DUSP], I would have been blind” to those elements.</p> <p>Inspired by Associate Professor Gabriella Carolini in the International Development Group at DUSP, Beck focused her doctoral research on water and sanitation services and the water operators that serve urban populations. In addition to Carolini, she is working with Professor Lawrence Susskind in the DUSP Environmental Policy and Planning Group and Professor James Wescoat in the Department of Architecture. Beck used the United Nations Habitat database of WOPs to gain an overview of all partnerships worldwide. From this background research, she decided to focus on partnerships in Africa due to their prevalence and her previous experience in the region.</p> <p>In 2018, MIT’s MISTI-Netherlands program sponsored Beck’s participation in a short course on partnerships for water supply and sanitation in the Netherlands. The course’s lecturers were part of a Dutch water company conducting international water partnerships with a range of African countries, including Malawi. Beck then used the connections from the short course and the support from her 2018-19 fellowship from the <a href="">Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS)</a> to research partnerships underway in the Lilongwe, Malawi water utility, which has worked with partners from the Netherlands, Rwanda, Uganda, and South Africa. She observed meetings between representatives, shadowed workers in the field, and conducted interviews. Beck found that many utilities faced similar challenges, such as non-revenue water, or water lost after pumping. She also found that utilities had much to gain from exchanges with colleagues and peers. For instance, the utility representatives in Lilongwe, Malawi were excited about their partnership with Rwanda because they saw an opportunity to share their experiences as peers.</p> <p>Beck found ample support at MIT for her dissertation project. “I’m drawing on development studies, urban planning, geography, and ethnographic approaches, and MIT has allowed me to bring all of this together,” she explains. Beck has received funding from J-WAFS, DUSP, MISTI-Netherlands, the Center for International Studies, and MISTI-Africa. “They’ve been great resources,” she says, “and I’ve felt that there is an understanding and an appreciation for qualitative research and the contributions it can make.” Beck also highlighted that the short course sponsored by MISTI-Netherlands, and the water utility connections she forged there, were “absolutely instrumental in [her] research.”</p> <p>Beck has great appreciation for the J-WAFS Fellowship as well. The open-ended nature of the funding gave her the academic freedom to pursue the research questions she was interested in, while the additional time allowed Beck to digest her fieldwork and think about how to drive her research forward in new ways.</p> <p><strong>Taking a deeper dive</strong></p> <p>In the future, Beck would like to study high-performing utilities across Africa, in places such as Morocco, Burkina Faso, and Swaziland. “I want to do more research into these utilities,” she explains, “and understand what other utilities could learn from them.” She will begin this work soon, having recently received an award from the Water Resource Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers that will support a research trip to Rabat, Morocco, to study WOPs there. She would also like to conduct additional interviews in the Netherlands, since Dutch representatives are involved in many utility partnerships in Africa.</p> <p>Beck’s qualitative research into partnership dynamics provides a necessary perspective on the effectiveness of WOPs. Being able to “follow along [with utility partners], hang out with them, chat with them while they’re doing their work, is something that has really enriched my research,” she explains. Beck’s analysis is one of the first to compare learning dynamics between north-south and south-south WOPs; most studies examine one partnership in detail. Her work could pinpoint ways to improve current water utility partnerships. As the world grows increasingly interconnected and water grows scarcer, integrating multiple perspectives into these issues will provide a more stable grounding to create robust solutions for issues of water access and social equity.</p> 2018-19 J-WAFS Fellow Andrea Beck sits by the Charles River. Photo: Andi Sutton/J-WAFSUrban studies and planning, School of Architecture and Planning, Architecture, MISTI, Center for International Studies, Water, Food, Agriculture, Africa, Urban planning, Sanitation, J-WAFS, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Students, Graduate, postdoctoral Felice Frankel donates image collection to the MIT Libraries Landscape architecture photographs will be shared as a learning resource. Tue, 28 May 2019 16:30:01 -0400 Brigham Fay | MIT Libraries <p>Felice Frankel, an award-winning photographer and a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, has donated nearly&nbsp;<a href="">600 images</a>&nbsp;to the MIT Libraries. The images will be housed in&nbsp;<a href="">Dome</a>, the libraries’ digital collections of images, media, maps, and more built as a companion site to&nbsp;<a href="">DSpace@MIT</a>.</p> <p>The photographs were taken during Frankel’s early career as a landscape architecture photographer. Many of the sites captured are iconic in the world of built landscape, such as Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute, Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, Richard Haag’s Bloedel Reserve, and Dan Kiley’s Miller Garden.&nbsp;</p> <p>The idea to share her collection broadly stemmed from conversations Frankel had with library staff about the importance of images and making them accessible. In 2016, Frankel gave a&nbsp;<a href="">brown bag talk</a>&nbsp;for the libraries’ Program on Information Science, where she argued that images and figures are first-class intellectual objects and should be considered just as important as text in publication, learning, and thinking.</p> <p>Frankel sees the collection as an educational tool: “The more people see quality, the more they will understand what quality is.”&nbsp;</p> <p>This visual collection can support teaching and learning in faculty curricula and student research in a variety of disciplines, but can be especially useful in landscape architecture, architecture, and art.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Recently, Frankel has become well-known for a different type of photography: scientific images.&nbsp;Her work was featured alongside that of Harold “Doc” Edgerton and Berenice Abbott in the recent MIT Museum exhibition "<a href="">Images of Discovery</a>," and her scientific images have been published in numerous articles and publications for general audiences, such as&nbsp;<em>National Geographic,&nbsp;Nature, Science, Newsweek, Scientific American, Discover, </em>and&nbsp;<em>Popular Science.</em> Frankel&nbsp;<a href="">teaches</a>&nbsp;researchers and others how to create compelling compositions and graphics and communicate complex scientific phenomena. Her book, "<a href="" target="_blank">Picturing Science and Engineering</a>," which includes a step-by-step guide to creating science images that are both accurate and visually stunning, was published by the MIT Press in 2018.<br /> <br /> “The [landscape architecture work] might look disparate from my work now, but it’s all about capturing structured information,” she says. “The scientific images are just as much landscapes. There’s a visual thread throughout the work: a way of composing.”</p> <p>For Frankel, the photos of built landscapes are about capturing an experience — getting a feel for a place from one small moment. She hopes their availability in Dome will expand access not just for designers or design students but for anyone interested in stunning design: “I’m eager to send it out into the world.”</p> "Ira's Fountain," Lawrence Halprin and AssociatesPhoto: Felice FrankelChemical engineering, School of Engineering, Photography, Architecture, Giving, Design, Arts, Staff, Libraries The politics of ugly buildings In new book, MIT’s Timothy Hyde looks at the architectural controversies that have helped shape Britain. Fri, 24 May 2019 00:00:00 -0400 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office <p>In 1984, when the British government was planning to build a flashy modernist addition to the National Gallery in London, Prince Charles offered a dissenting view. The proposed extension, he said, resembled “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.” A public controversy ensued, and eventually a more subtle addition was built.</p> <p>There is more to the story, however. Prince Charles’ public interventions into architecture fell into a legal gray area. Was he improperly trying use the influence of the British monarchy — now meant to be nonpolitical — to affect government policy?</p> <p>“It’s not quite clear whether Prince Charles was speaking as a private citizen or as a future monarch,” says Timothy Hyde, the Clarence H. Blackall Career Development Associate Professor in MIT’s Department of Architecture. He adds: “Because of his architectural pronouncements, a series of constitutional debates has emerged about how such opinions should be regulated, or if they should be regulated at all.”</p> <p>Indeed, Prince Charles’ public tussles over architecture have led to legal battles. In 2015, Britain’s Supreme Court ruled that 27 advocacy memos Prince Charles had written to various officials — on architecture, the environment, and other subjects — could not be kept private, meaning the public could scrutinize his activities. And more recently, Prince Charles has vowed not to make similar policy interventions should he become king.</p> <p>So for Prince Charles, debates over architecture have spilled into questions of political power. But as Hyde explores in a new book, “Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye,” published by Princeton University Press, this is hardly unique. In Britain alone, Hyde notes, controversies specifically over the “ugliness” of buildings have shaped matters from libel law to environmental policy.</p> <p>“Aesthetic arguments about ugliness have often served to tie architectural thinking to other kinds of debates and questions in parallel spheres of social and cultural production — things like science, law, professionalism,” Hyde says. “Debates about ugliness are very easily legible as debates about politics.”</p> <p><strong>Clearing the air</strong></p> <p>The impetus for the book, says Hyde, an architectural historian, came partly from the sheer number of people who have commented about “ugly” buildings to him.&nbsp;</p> <p>“It’s the frequency of that phrase, ‘What an ugly building,’ that really piqued my curiosity about ugliness,” Hyde says.</p> <p>“Ugliness is an undertheorized dimension of architecture, given how common that critique is,” he adds. “People always think buildings are ugly. Particularly as a historian of modern architecture, I encounter any number of people who say ‘Oh, you’re a modern architectural historian, can you explain, why would an architect ever think to do a building like that?’”</p> <p>Hyde’s book, however, is not simply about aesthetics. Instead, as he soon noticed, disputes centered around “ugly” buildings have a way of leaping into other domains of life. Consider libel laws. In the first decades of the 19th century, the prominent architect Sir John Soane filed a long series of libel cases against critics, which led to the larger evolution of the law.</p> <p>“There was a prevailing assumption at the time that a work of architecture, a work of art, a work of literature, was an embodiment of its creator,” Hyde says. A critique of a building, then, could be seen a personal attack on an individual. But as Soane filed one libel cases after another — against people who used terms like “a ridiculous piece of architecture” and “a palpable eyesore” — he lost again and again. A bad review, the legal community decided, was simply that.&nbsp;</p> <p>“In the cases that John Soane brought for libel, all of which he lost … the modern conception that we have within libel law, of art criticism being a special case, emerged,” Hyde says. “Now what we take for granted, this modern idea that one can criticize a work of architecture or book, without necessarily saying its creator is a bad or immoral person, begins to emerge as a legal concept.”</p> <p>Or take environmental policy, which gained traction in Britain due to concerns about the aesthetics of the Houses of Parliament. As Hyde details, the 19th century reconstruction of Britain’s Parliament — the old one burned in 1834 — soon became derailed, in the 1840s, by concerns that its limestone was already decaying and becoming ugly.</p> <p>A formal inquiry by the end of the 1850s concluded that the sulphuric “acid rain” from London’s sooty atmosphere was corroding the city’s buildings — an important step for the incorporation of science into 19th-century policymaking, and a finding that helped usher in Britain’s 1875 Public Health Act, which directly addressed such pollution.</p> <p><strong>The levers of power</strong></p> <p>“Ugliness and Judgment” has received praise from other architectural historians. Daniel M. Abramson, a professor of architecture at Boston University, calls it “a superb piece of scholarship, opening up new ways, through the lens of ugliness, to understand and connect a whole range of canonical figures, buildings, and themes.”</p> <p>To be sure, as Hyde readily notes, the geographic scope of “Ugliness and Judgement” is limited to Britain, and almost exclusively on London architecture. It could well be worthwhile, he notes, to look at controversies over architecture, ugliness, and power in other settings, which might have their own distinctive elements.</p> <p>Still, he notes, studying Britain alone uncovers a rich history stemming from the notion of “ugliness” by itself.</p> <p>“Disagreements over questions of ugliness are much more volatile than disagreements over questions of beauty,” Hyde says. When it comes to politics and the law, he observes, “In some sense, beauty doesn’t matter as much. ... The stakes are different.” Few people try to prevent buildings from being built, he notes, if they are merely a bit less beautiful than onlookers had hoped.</p> <p>Perceptions of ugliness, however, precipitate civic battles.</p> <p>“It’s a way to look for the levers of power,” Hyde says. &nbsp;</p> Timothy Hyde and his new book, “Ugliness and Judgment.”Photo: Tom Gearty/School of Architecture and PlanningSchool of Architecture and Planning, Architecture, Arts, History, Books and authors, Faculty, Research MIT team places second in 2019 NASA BIG Idea Challenge Multilevel Mars greenhouse could provide food to sustain astronauts for several years. Mon, 20 May 2019 13:00:01 -0400 Sarah Jensen | Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics <p>An MIT student team took second place for its design of a multilevel greenhouse to be used on Mars in NASA’s 2019 Breakthrough, Innovative and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge last month.&nbsp;</p> <p>Each year, NASA holds the BIG Idea competition in its search for innovative and futuristic ideas. This year’s challenge invited universities across the United States to submit designs for a sustainable, cost-effective, and efficient method of supplying food to astronauts during future crewed explorations of Mars. Dartmouth College was awarded first place in this year’s closely contested challenge.</p> <p>“This was definitely a full-team success,” says team leader Eric Hinterman, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro). The team had contributions from 10 undergraduates and graduate students from across MIT departments. Support and assistance were provided by four architects and designers in Italy. This project was completely voluntary; all 14 contributors share a similar passion for space exploration and enjoyed working on the challenge in their spare time.</p> <p>The MIT team dubbed its design “BEAVER” (Biosphere Engineered Architecture for Viable Extraterrestrial Residence). “We designed our greenhouse to provide 100 percent of the food requirements for four active astronauts every day for two years,” explains Hinterman.</p> <p>The ecologists and agriculture specialists on the MIT team identified eight types of crops to provide the calories, protein, carbohydrates, and oils and fats that astronauts would need; these included potatoes, rice, wheat, oats, and peanuts. The flexible menu suggested substitutes, depending on astronauts’ specific dietary requirements.</p> <p>“Most space systems are metallic and very robotic,” Hinterman says. “It was fun working on something involving plants.”</p> <p>Parameters provided by NASA — a power budget, dimensions necessary for transporting by rocket, the capacity to provide adequate sustenance — drove the shape and the overall design of the greenhouse.</p> <p>Last October, the team held an initial brainstorming session and pitched project ideas. The iterative process continued until they reached their final design: a cylindrical growing space 11.2 meters in diameter and 13.4 meters tall after deployment.</p> <p><strong>An innovative design</strong></p> <p>The greenhouse would be packaged inside a rocket bound for Mars and, after landing, a waiting robot would move it to its site. Programmed with folding mechanisms, it would then expand horizontally and vertically and begin forming an ice shield around its exterior to protect plants and humans from the intense radiation on the Martian surface.</p> <p>Two years later, when Earth and Mars orbits were again in optimal alignment for launching and landing, a crew would arrive on Mars, where they would complete the greenhouse setup and begin growing crops. “About every two years, the crew would leave and a new crew of four would arrive and continue to use the greenhouse,” explains Hinterman.</p> <p>To maximize space, BEAVER employs a large spiral that moves around a central core within the cylinder. Seedlings are planted at the top and flow down the spiral as they grow. By the time they reach the bottom, the plants are ready for harvesting, and the crew enters at the ground floor to reap the potatoes and peanuts and grains. The planting trays are then moved to the top of the spiral, and the process begins again.</p> <p>“A lot of engineering went into the spiral,” says Hinterman. “Most of it is done without any moving parts or mechanical systems, which makes it ideal for space applications. You don’t want a lot of moving parts or things that can break.”</p> <p><strong>The human factor</strong></p> <p>“One of the big issues with sending humans into space is that they will be confined to seeing the same people every day for a couple of years,” Hinterman explains. “They’ll be living in an enclosed environment with very little personal space.”</p> <p>The greenhouse provides a pleasant area to ensure astronauts’ psychological well-being. On the top floor, just above the spiral, a windowed “mental relaxation area” overlooks the greenery. The ice shield admits natural light, and the crew can lounge on couches and enjoy the view of the Mars landscape. And rather than running pipes from the water tank at the top level down to the crops, Hinterman and his team designed a cascading waterfall at the area’s periphery, further adding to the ambiance.</p> <p>Sophomore Sheila Baber, an Earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences (EAPS) major and the team’s ecology lead, was eager to take part in the project. “My grandmother used to farm in the mountains in Korea, and I remember going there and picking the crops,” she says. “Coming to MIT, I felt like I was distanced from my roots. I am interested in life sciences and physics and all things space, and this gave me the opportunity to combine all those.”</p> <p>Her work on BEAVER led to Baber’s award of one of five NASA internships at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia this summer. She expects to continue exploration of the greenhouse project and its applications on Earth, such as in urban settings where space for growing food is constrained.</p> <p>“Some of the agricultural decisions that we made about hydroponics and aquaponics could potentially be used in environments on Earth to raise food,” she says.</p> <p>“The MIT team was great to work with,” says Hinterman. “They were very enthusiastic and hardworking, and we came up with a great design as a result.”</p> <p>In addition to Baber and Hinterman, team members included Siranush Babakhanova (Physics), Joe Kusters (AeroAstro), Hans Nowak (Leaders for Global Operations), Tajana Schneiderman (EAPS), Sam Seaman (Architecture), Tommy Smith (System Design and Management), Natasha Stamler (Mechanical Engineering and Urban Studies and Planning), and Zhuchang Zhan (EAPS). Assistance was provided by Italian designers and architects Jana Lukic, Fabio Maffia, Aldo Moccia, and Samuele Sciarretta. The team’s advisors were Jeff Hoffman, Sara Seager, Matt Silver, Vladimir Aerapetian, Valentina Sumini, and George Lordos.</p> <p>The BIG Idea Challenge is sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Game Changing Development program and managed by the National Institute of Aerospace.</p> MIT team that designed BEAVER (Biosphere Engineered Architecture for Viable Extraterrestrial Residence), a proposed Martian greenhouse that could provide 100 percent of the food required by four astronauts for up to two yearsPhoto: William LitantNASA, Mars, Aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Urban studies and planning, EAPS, Physics, Architecture, Mechanical engineering, Leaders for Global Operations (LGO), System Design and Management, School of Engineering, School of Science, School of Architecture and Planning, Contests and academic competitions, Agriculture, Food, Space exploration Renowned architect I.M. Pei ’40 dies at 102 Designer of the Louvre pyramid and of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art left a distinctive mark on the MIT campus. Fri, 17 May 2019 17:15:01 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning <p>Celebrated architect I.M. Pei ’40 died on May 16 in New York City. He was 102.</p> <p>Over the course of a long international career, he designed notable buildings that included museums, cultural and research centers, civic buildings, and office towers. A dedicated modernist, he received the architecture world’s highest honors for his large body of work.</p> <p>Among his best-known projects are the glass pyramid entrance pavilion he designed for the Louvre museum in Paris, and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington.</p> <p>In 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy chose Pei to design the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Other Boston-area projects include the west wing of the Museum of Fine Arts.</p> <p>“Pei was a giant whose vast and varied output consistently rose to the civic responsibility of architecture, elevating cultural, institutional, and residential buildings alike to monuments of modern life,” says Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning.</p> <p>Pei designed four buildings for the MIT campus:</p> <ul> <li>Cecil and Ida Green Building for Earth Sciences (<a href="" target="_blank">Building 54</a>), 1962</li> <li>Camille Edouard Dreyfus Chemistry Building (<a href="" target="_blank">Building 18</a>), 1967</li> <li>Ralph Landau Building for Chemical Engineering (<a href="" target="_blank">Building 66</a>), 1976</li> <li>Wiesner Building (<a href="" target="_blank">Building E15</a>, original home of the MIT Media Lab), 1985</li> </ul> <p>“Pei's contribution to the physical environment of MIT has been significant, with several key buildings that established the form of the contemporary campus,” says Andrew Scott, professor and acting head of the Department of Architecture. “Building 66, which poses a triangular form that finely resolves the forces of the urban geometry, and Building 18, which elegantly frames the landscape of the inner quads, are still personal favorites and outstanding laboratory typologies to this day.”</p> <div class="cms-placeholder-content-video"></div> <p>Ieoh Ming Pei was born on April 26, 1917, in Canton (now Guangzhou), China. The son of a prominent banker, he grew up in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Pei began his college studies at the University of Pennsylvania before transferring to MIT, from which he graduated in 1940 with a bachelor of architecture degree. His thesis title was “<a href="" target="_blank">Standardized Propaganda Units for War Time and Peace Time China</a>.”</p> <p>He met his wife, Eileen (Ay-Ling) Loo, also from China, while he was at MIT and she was studying art at Wellesley College. They married when she graduated, in 1942; both then pursued graduate study at Harvard University, from which he received a master’s degree in 1946.</p> <p>After teaching briefly at Harvard, Pei worked for New York commercial real estate developer William Zeckendorf for 12 years. During this time he hired a former student, Henry Cobb, with whom he would be professionally associated for six decades. Pei founded his own firm, I.M. Pei and Associates (later Pei, Cobb and Freed), in 1955 with Cobb and Eason Leonard. Among a vast number of projects, the firm produced the 700-foot-tall John Hancock Tower in Boston, designed by Cobb.</p> <p>“I.M. Pei’s work across many contexts and cultures has an enduring, timeless quality,” says Scott. “He was a master-architect with a deep understanding and sophistication with issues of urbanism, scale of object and detail, spatial orchestration, and formal composition.”</p> <p>Among his many awards and honors were the Pritzker Prize in 1983; the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 1979; and the Japanese Praemium Imperiale, for lifetime achievement, in 1989.</p> <p>Pei was member of the MIT Corporation (1972–1977 and 1978–1983) and an honorary member of the Council for the Arts at MIT.</p> <p>He is survived by sons Li Chung Pei and Chien Chung Pei, both architects; daughter Liane Pei, a lawyer; and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His son T’ing Chung Pei MCP ‘67, an urban planner, died in 2003. Eileen Pei died in 2014.</p> I.M. Pei ’40 left a lasting mark on the MIT campus and community. He was a member of the MIT Corporation and an honorary member of the Council for the Arts at MIT.Image courtesy of Pei Partnership Architects.Alumni/ae, Obituaries, Design, Cambridge, Boston and region, Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Arts, MIT Corporation Six suborbital research payloads from MIT fly to space and back Space Exploration Initiative research aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard experiment capsule crossed the Karman line for three minutes of sustained microgravity. Fri, 03 May 2019 14:50:40 -0400 Stephanie Strom | MIT Media Lab <p>Blast off! MIT made its latest foray into research in space on May 2 via six payloads from the Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, tucked into Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable space vehicle that took off from a launchpad in West Texas.</p> <p>It was also the first time in the history of the Media Lab that in-house research projects were launched into space, for several minutes of sustained microgravity. The results of that research may have big implications for semiconductor manufacturing, art and telepresence, architecture and farming, among other things.</p> <p>“The projects we’re testing operate fundamentally different in Earth’s gravity compared to how they would operate in microgravity,” explained Ariel Ekblaw, the founder and lead of the Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative.</p> <p>Previously, the Media Lab sent projects into microgravity aboard the plane used by NASA to train astronauts, lovingly nicknamed “the vomit comet.” These parabolic flights provide repeated 15 to 30 second intervals of near weightlessness. The New Shepard experiment capsule will coast in microgravity for significantly longer and cross the Karman line (the formal boundary of “space”) in the process. While that may not seem like much time, it’s enough to get a lot accomplished.</p> <p>“The capsule where the research takes place arcs through space for three minutes, which gives us precious moments of sustained, high quality microgravity,” Ekblaw said. “This provides an opportunity to expand our experiments from prior parabolic flight protocols, and test entirely new research as well.”</p> <p>Depending on the results of the experiments done during New Shepard’s flight, some of the projects will undergo further, long-term research aboard the International Space Station, Ekblaw said.</p> <p>On this trip, she sent Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for the Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments, otherwise known as TESSERAE, into space. The ultimate goal for these sensor-augmented hexagonal and pentagonal &nbsp;“tiles” is to autonomously self-assemble into space structures. These flexible, reconfigurable modules can then be used for habitat construction, in-space assembly of satellites, or even as infrastructure for parabolic mirrors. Ekblaw hopes TESSERAE will one day support in-orbit staging bases for human exploration of the surface of the moon or Mars, or enable low Earth orbit space tourism.</p> <p>An earlier prototype, flown on a parabolic flight in November 2017, validated the research concept mechanical structure, polarity arrangement of bonding magnets, and the self-assembly physical protocol. On the Blue Origin flight, Ekblaw is testing a new embedded sensor network in the tiles, as well as their communication architecture and guidance control aspects of their self-assembly capabilities. “We’re testing whether they’ll autonomously circulate, find correct neighbors, and bond together magnetically in microgravity for robust self-assembly,” Ekblaw said.</p> <p>Another experiment aboard New Shepard combined art with the test of a tool for future space exploration — traversing microgravity with augmented mobility. Living Distance, an artwork conceived by the Space Exploration Initiative’s art curator, Xin Liu, explores freedom of movement via a wisdom tooth — yes, you read that correctly!</p> <p>The tooth traveled to space carried by a robotic device named EBIFA and encased in a crystalline container. Once New Shepard entered space, the container burst open and EBIFA swung into action, shooting cords out with magnetic tips to latch onto a metal surface. The tooth then floated through space with minimal interference in the virtually zero-gravity environment.</p> <p>“In this journey, the tooth became a newborn entity in space, its crystalline, sculptural body and life supported by an electromechanical system,” Xin Liu wrote. “Each of its weightless movements was carefully calculated on paper and modeled in simulation software, as there can never be a true test like this on Earth.”</p> <p>The piece builds on a performance art work called Orbit Weaver that Liu performed last year during a parabolic flight, where she was physically tethered to a nylon cord that floated freely and attached to nearby surfaces. Orbit Weaver and Living Distance may offer insights to future human space explorers about how best to navigate weightlessness.</p> <p>A piece of charcoal also made the trip to space inside a chamber lined with drawing paper, part of a project designed by Ani Liu, a Media Lab alumna. In microgravity, the charcoal will chart its own course inside the chamber, marking the paper as it floats through an arc far above the Earth.</p> <p>When the chamber returns to the Media Lab, the charcoal will join forces with a KUKA robot that will mimic the charcoal’s trajectory during the three-ish minutes of coasting in microgravity. Together, the charcoal and the robot will become a museum exhibit that provides a demonstration of motion in microgravity to a broad audience and illustrates the Space Exploration Initiative’s aim to democratize access to space and invite the public to engage in space exploration.</p> <p>Harpreet Sareen, another Media Lab alum, tested how crystals form in microgravity, research that may eventually lead to manufacturing semiconductors in space.</p> <p>Semiconductors used in today’s technology require crystals with extremely high levels of purity and perfect shapes, but gravity interferes with crystal growth on Earth, resulting in faults, contact stresses, and other flaws. Sareen and his collaborator, Anna Garbier, created a nano-sized lab in a box a little smaller than a half-gallon milk carton. The electric current that kicked off growth of the crystals during the three minutes the New Shepard capsule was suborbital was triggered by onboard rocket commands from Blue Origin.</p> <p>The crystals will be evaluated for potential industrial applications, and they also have a future as an art installation: Floral Cosmonauts.</p> <p>And then there are the 40 or so bees (one might say “apionauts”) that made the trip into space on behalf of the Mediated Matter group at the Media Lab, which is interested in seeing the impact space travel has on a queen bee and her retinue. Two queen bees that were inseminated at a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility in Louisiana went to space, each with roughly 20 attendant bees whose job it was to feed her and help control her body temperature.</p> <p>The bees traveled via two small containers — metabolic support capsules — into which they previously built honeycomb structures. This unique design gives them a familiar environment for their trip. A modified GoPro camera, pointed into the specially designed container housing the bees, was fitted into the top of the case to film the insects and create a record of their behavior during flight.</p> <p>Everything inside the case was designed to make the journey as comfortable as possible for the bees, right down to a tiny golden heating pad that was to kick into action if the temperature dropped too low for a queen bee’s comfort.</p> <p>Researchers in the Mediated Matter group will study the behavior of the bees when they return to Earth and are reintroduced to a colony at the Media Lab. Will the queens lay their eggs? Will those eggs hatch? And can bees who’ve been to space continue making pollen and honey once they’ve returned to Earth? Those are among the many questions the team will be asking.</p> <p>“We currently have no robotic alternative to bees for pollination of many crops,” Ekblaw said. “If we want to grow crops on Mars, we may need to bring bees with us. Knowing if they can survive a mission, reintegrate into the hive, and thrive afterwards is critical.”</p> <p>As these projects show, the Space Exploration Initiative unites engineers, scientists, artists, and designers across a multifaceted research portfolio. The team looks forward to a regular launch cadence and progressing through microgravity research milestones — from parabolic flights, to further launch opportunities with Blue Origin, to the International Space Station and even lunar landings.</p> MIT Media Lab researchers (l-r) Xin Liu, Felix Kraemer, Ariel Ekblaw, Pete Dilworth, Rachel Smith, and Harpreet Sareen stand in front of the Blue Origin capsule holding their six payloads.Media Lab, Space, astronomy and planetary science, Research, Industry, School of Architecture and Planning, Arts, Materials Science and Engineering, Architecture, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Aeronautical and astronautical engineering Grad students win Urban Land Institute challenge Their winning 2019 Hines Student Competition entry readies an urban space for the future while preserving the past. Fri, 19 Apr 2019 12:30:00 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning <p>A redevelopment plan for a Cincinnati site presented by a team from MIT and Harvard University has won the 2019&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Urban Land Institute</a> (ULI) Hines Student Competition. The annual ideas competition invites graduate students to devise a comprehensive design and development scheme for a large-scale urban site.</p> <p>The 2019 competition tasked teams with creating designs, plans, and a development scenario for an actual site in Cincinnati. The site includes a central business district and the downtown riverfront bisected by a highway. Given this urban fabric, teams were challenged with integrating all of the spaces to create a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented, sustainable, mixed-use neighborhood.</p> <p>The winning MIT-Harvard proposal,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">The CincyStitch</a>, reimagines the riverfront not as the physical edge of the city but as the organizing center of a better-connected region. The CincyStitch uses four narratives themes — culture and history, public realm, transportation, and new economies — to craft its vision for strategically expanding the site and creating connections despite physical and historical barriers. Within the proposal, these themes describe an urban space that can be future oriented while maintaining deep connections to its history.</p> <p>“We&nbsp;are very proud of the CincyStitch team,” says Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School&nbsp;of Architecture and Planning (SA+P). “The team is the embodiment of a defining characteristic of SA+P&nbsp;and MIT: the ability to&nbsp;gather talented individuals from diverse backgrounds to solve difficult problems.”</p> <p>Since 2003, the ULI Hines Student Competition has challenged students to collaborate across disciplines and imagine a better built environment. Groups of five students form teams to devise a development proposal for a real site in a North American city by providing designs, market-based financial data, and related narratives.</p> <p>Team proposals were required to illustrate innovative approaches to five general elements: planning context and analysis; a master land use plan; urban design; site-specific illustrations of new development; and development schedule and finances. This year’s competition involved 90 teams representing more than 40 universities in the United States and Canada. Four teams advanced to the final round of the competition that concluded on April 4.</p> <p>“The jury was impressed with all of the teams in terms of the completeness of their presentations, the creativity, and all of the thought that went into their proposals,” says ULI Hines Student Competition jury chairman Alex J. Rose.</p> <p>“The MIT-Harvard team stood out because it demonstrated the greatest cohesiveness by an interdisciplinary team to solve an urban challenge requiring multiple disciplines,” says Rose, senior vice president of Continental Development Corporation in El Segundo, California. “The team had a very clear strategy, an achievable plan, a clear and creative financial model, and a presentation that strongly supported and illustrated their plan.”</p> <p>The CincyStitch was led by city planning graduate student Joshua Brooks and included another team member from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), Alan Sage. Other team members included&nbsp;Department of Architecture student&nbsp;Zhicheng Xu,&nbsp;MIT Sloan School of Management student&nbsp;Shiqi Peng,&nbsp;and Matthew Macchietto of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD).</p> <p>Eran Ben-Joseph, professor and department head of DUSP, and Dennis Pieprz, a faculty member at the GSD and principal at Sasaki, were the team’s academic advisors. &nbsp;</p> <p>“All of us, in our approach to urban design, planning, finance, architecture and landscape architecture, really think of cities as human habitat,” Brooks says. “City building is something we consider as a calling, not just a profession. As we embarked on this assignment, we wanted to take a position on what we think cities should be, and our proposal does that.”</p> CincyStitch team members (l-r) Matthew Macchietto of Harvard and Zhicheng Xu, Shiqi Peng, Alan Sage, and Joshua Brooks of MIT share a moment with Alex Rose, the Hines Student Competition jury chair and senior vice president of Continental Development Corporation, at the competition finals in Cincinnati, Ohio.Photo courtesy of the Urban Land InstituteSchool of Architecture and Planning, Urban studies and planning, Architecture, Awards, honors and fellowships, Business and management, Cities, Design, Economics, Collaboration, Contests and academic competitions, Students, graduate, Graduate, postdoctoral Combining artificial intelligence with their passions Research projects show creative ways MIT students are connecting computing to other fields. Thu, 07 Mar 2019 17:30:01 -0500 Kim Martineau | MIT Quest for Intelligence <p>Computational thinking will be the mark of an MIT education when the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing opens this fall, and&nbsp;glimpses of what's to&nbsp;come were on display during the final reception of a three-day celebration of the college Feb. 26-28.</p> <p>In a tent filled with electronic screens, students and postdocs took turns explaining how they had created&nbsp;something new by combining computing with&nbsp;topics they felt passionate about, including predicting panic selling on Wall Street,&nbsp;analyzing&nbsp;the filler ingredients in common drugs, and developing more energy-efficient software and hardware.&nbsp;The poster session featured undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs from each of MIT’s five schools.&nbsp;Eight projects are highlighted here.</p> <p><strong>Low-cost screening tool for genetic mutations linked to autism</strong></p> <p>Autism is thought to have a strong genetic basis, but few of the genetic mutations responsible have been found. In collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, MIT researchers are using AI to explore autism’s hidden origins.&nbsp;</p> <p>Working with his advisors,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Bonnie Berger</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="applewebdata://E3132863-39CE-49C2-88A7-FCF385FFA23C/po-ru%20loh">Po-Ru Loh</a>, professors of math and medicine at MIT and Harvard respectively, graduate student&nbsp;<a href="">Maxwell Sherman</a>&nbsp;has helped develop an algorithm to detect previously unidentified mutations in people with autism which cause some cells to carry too much or too little DNA.&nbsp;</p> <p>The team has found that up to 1 percent of people with autism carry the mutations, and that inexpensive consumer genetic tests can detect them with a mere saliva sample. Hundreds of U.S. children who carry the mutations and are at risk for autism could be identified this way each year, researchers say.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>“Early detection of autism gives kids earlier access to supportive services,” says Sherman, “and that can have lasting benefits.”&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Can deep learning models be trusted?</strong></p> <p>As AI systems automate more tasks, the need to evaluate their decisions and alert the public to possible failures has taken on new urgency. In a project with the&nbsp;<a href="">MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab</a>, graduate student&nbsp;<a href="">Lily Weng</a>&nbsp;is helping to build an efficient, general framework for&nbsp;quantifying&nbsp;how easily deep neural networks can be&nbsp;tricked or misled into making mistakes.</p> <p>Working with a team led by&nbsp;<a href="">Pin-Yu Chen</a>, a researcher at IBM, and&nbsp;<a href="">Luca Daniel</a>, a professor in MIT’s&nbsp;<a href="">Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science</a>&nbsp;(EECS), Weng developed a method that reports how much each individual input can be altered before the neural network makes a mistake. The team is now expanding the framework to larger, and more general neural networks, and developing tools to quantify their level of vulnerability based on different ways of measuring input-alteration. The work has spawned a series of papers, summarized in a recent MIT-IBM <a href="" target="_blank">blog post</a>.</p> <p><strong>Mapping the spread of Ebola virus</strong></p> <p>By the time the Ebola virus spread from Guinea and Liberia to Sierra Leone in 2014, the government was prepared. It quickly closed its schools and shut its borders with the two countries. Still, relative to its population, Sierra Leone fared worse than its neighbors, with 14,000 suspected infections and 4,000&nbsp;<a href="">deaths</a>.</p> <p>Marie Charpignon, a graduate student in the MIT&nbsp;<a href="">Institute for Data, Systems, and Society</a> (IDSS), wanted to know why. Her search became a final project for&nbsp;<a href="">Network Science and Models</a>, a class taught by&nbsp;<a href="">Patrick Jaillet</a>, the Dugald C. Jackson Professor in EECS.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a network analysis of trade, migration, and World Health Organization data, Charpignon discovered that a severe shortage of medical resources seemed to explain why Ebola had caused relatively more devastation in Sierra Leone, despite the country’s precautions.</p> <p>“Sierra Leone had one doctor for every 30,000 residents, and the doctors were the first to be infected,” she says. “That further reduced the availability of medical help.”&nbsp;</p> <p>If Sierra Leone had not acted as decisively, she says, the outbreak could have been far worse. Her results suggest that epidemiology models should factor in where hospitals and medical staff are clustered to better predict how an epidemic will unfold.</p> <p><strong>An AI for sustainable, economical buildings</strong></p> <p>When labor is cheap, buildings are designed to use fewer materials, but as labor costs rise, design choices shift to inefficient but easily constructed buildings. That’s why much of the world today favors buildings made of standardized steel-reinforced concrete, says graduate student&nbsp;<a href="">Mohamed Ismail</a>.</p> <p>AI is now changing the design equation. In collaboration with TARA, a New Delhi-based nonprofit, Ismail and his advisor,&nbsp;<a href="">Caitlin Mueller</a>, an associate professor in the&nbsp;<a href="">Department of Architecture</a>&nbsp;and the&nbsp;<a href="">Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering</a>, are using computational tools to reduce the amount of reinforced concrete in India’s buildings.</p> <p>“We can, once again, make structural performance part of the architectural design process, and build exciting, elegant buildings that are also efficient and economical,” says Ismail.&nbsp;</p> <p>The work involves calculating how much load a building can bear as the shape of its design shifts. Ismael and Mueller developed an optimization algorithm to compute a shape that would maximize efficiency and provide a sculptural element. The hybrid nature of reinforced concrete, which is both liquid and solid, brittle and ductile, was one challenge they had to overcome. Making sure the models would translate on the ground, by staying in close contact with the client, was another.</p> <p>“If something didn’t work, I could remotely connect to my computer at MIT, adjust the code, and have a new design ready for TARA within an hour,” says Ismail.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Robots that understand language</strong></p> <p>The more that robots can engage with humans, the more useful they become. That means asking for feedback when they get confused and seamlessly absorbing new information as they interact with us and their environment. Ideally, this means moving to a world in which we talk to robots instead of programming them.&nbsp;</p> <p>In a project led by&nbsp;<a href="">Boris Katz</a>, a researcher at the&nbsp;<a href="">Computer&nbsp;Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab</a><a href="">oratory </a>and&nbsp;<a href="">Nicholas Roy</a>, a professor in MIT’s&nbsp;<a href="">Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics</a>, graduate student&nbsp;<a href="">Yen-Ling Kuo</a>&nbsp;has designed&nbsp;a set of experiments to understand how humans and robots can cooperate and what robots must learn to follow commands.</p> <p>In one video game experiment, volunteers are asked to drive a car full of bunnies through an obstacle course of walls and pits of flames. It sounds like “absurdist comedy,” Kuo admits, but the goal is straightforward: to understand how humans plot a course through hazardous conditions while interpreting the actions of others around them. Data from the experiments will be used to design algorithms that help robots to plan and explain&nbsp;their understanding of what others are doing.</p> <p><strong>A deep learning tool to unlock your inner artist&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Creativity is thought to play an important role in healthy aging, with research showing that creative people are better at adapting to the challenges of old age. The trouble is, not everyone is in touch with their inner artist.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Maybe they were accountants, or worked in business and don’t see themselves as creative types,” says&nbsp;<a href="">Guillermo Bernal</a>, a graduate student at the&nbsp;<a href="">MIT Media Lab</a>. “I started to think, what if we could leverage deep learning models to help people explore their creative side?”</p> <p>With Media Lab professor&nbsp;<a href="">Pattie Maes</a>, Bernal developed&nbsp;<a href="">Paper Dreams</a>, an interactive storytelling tool that uses generative models to give the user a shot of inspiration. As a sketch unfolds, Paper Dreams imagines how the scene could develop further and suggests colors, textures, and new objects for the artist to add. A “serendipity dial” lets the artist decide how off-beat they want the suggestions to be.</p> <p>“Seeing the drawing and colors evolve in real-time as you manipulate them is a magical experience,” says Bernal, who is exploring ways to make the platform more accessible.</p> <p><strong>Preventing maternal deaths in Rwanda</strong></p> <p>The top cause of death for new mothers in Rwanda are infections following a caesarean section. To identify at-risk mothers sooner, researchers at MIT, Harvard Medical School, Brigham Women’s Hospital, and Partners in Health, Rwanda, are developing a computational tool to predict whether a mother’s post-surgical wound is likely to be infected.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Researchers gathered C-section wound photos from 527 women, using health workers who captured the pictures with their smartphones 10 to 12 days after surgery. Working with his advisor,&nbsp;<a href="">Richard Fletcher</a>, a researcher in MIT’s&nbsp;<a href="">D-Lab</a>, graduate student Subby Olubeko helped train a pair of models to pick out the wounds that developed into infections.&nbsp;&nbsp;When they tested the logistic regression model on the full dataset, it gave almost perfect predictions.&nbsp;</p> <p>The color of the wound’s drainage, and how bright the wound appears at its center, are two of the features the model picks up on, says Olubeko. The team plans to run a field experiment this spring to collect wound photos from a more diverse group of women and to shoot infrared images to see if they reveal additional information.</p> <p><strong>Do native ads shape our perception of the news?</strong></p> <p>The migration of news to the web has given advertisers the ability to place ever more personalized, engaging ads amid high-quality news stories. Often masquerading as legitimate news, so-called “native” ads, pushed by content recommendation networks, have brought badly needed revenue to the struggling U.S. news industry. But at what cost?</p> <p>“Native ads were supposed to help the news industry cope with the financial crisis, but what if they’re reinforcing the public’s mistrust of the media and driving readers away from quality news?” says graduate student&nbsp;<a href="">Manon Revel</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Claims of fake news dominated the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, but politicized native ads were also common. Curious to measure their reach, Revel joined a project led by&nbsp;<a href="">Adam Berinsky</a>, a professor in MIT’s&nbsp;<a href="">Department of Political Science</a>,&nbsp;<a href="">Munther Dahleh</a>, a professor in EECS and director of IDSS,&nbsp;<a href="">Dean Eckles</a>, a professor at MIT’s&nbsp;<a href="">Sloan School of Management</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="">Ali Jadbabaie</a>, a CEE professor who is associate director of IDSS.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Analyzing a sample of native ads that popped up on readers’ screens before the election, they&nbsp;found that 25 percent could be considered highly political, and that 75 percent fit the description of clickbait. A similar trend emerged when they looked at coverage of the 2018 midterm elections. The team is now running experiments to see how exposure to native ads influences how readers rate the credibility of real news.&nbsp;</p> In a network analysis of data tied to Sierra Leone’s 2014 Ebola virus outbreak, PhD student Marie Charpignon discovered that poor health care access helped to explain why Sierra Leone fared worse than neighboring Guinea or Liberia relative to its population. Here, she explains her results during the Feb. 26-28 MIT Schwarzman College of Computing celebration.Image: Rose LincolnAlgorithms, Architecture, Artificial intelligence, School of Science, School of Engineering, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Sloan School of Management, School of Architecture and Planning, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), D-Lab, Technology and society, Machine learning, Software, IDSS, Students, graduate, Graduate, postdoctoral, MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab, Media Lab, Special events and guest speakers Israeli and Palestinian architects and planners seek common ground on innovation, entrepreneurship Visiting fellows engage with students in the School of Architecture and Planning to create startups aimed at social impact. Thu, 07 Mar 2019 11:10:01 -0500 School of Architecture and Planning <p>On a recent rainy day in Jerusalem, two unlikely startup partners, one Israeli and one Palestinian, sit at a table, scribbling ideas as they brainstorm with a group of visiting MIT students.</p> <p>These venture partners are among six architects and urban planners who participated in <a href="" target="_blank">Our Generation Speaks</a> (OGS), a fellowship program based at Brandeis University. OGS was founded in 2016 by Ohad Elhelo, an Israeli entrepreneur, as a way to bring young Israelis and Palestinians to a neutral space beyond the regional conflict, where the common bond of entrepreneurship could unite them and help build relationships.</p> <p>MITdesignX, a venture accelerator created three years ago in the School of Architecture and Planning, and MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) partnered this year with OGS to focus part of the program on architects and planners. &nbsp;</p> <p>The six MITdesignX/MISTI-associated fellows — from a total of 28 in the OGS program overall — spent last summer living, working, and studying together in Boston. They arrived as strangers, but emerged as three entrepreneurial startup companies dedicated to tackling urban and design issues.</p> <p>In August 2018, the fellows worked daily at MIT with the support of MITdesignX faculty, mentors, and student interns. They emerged with viable business models and new startups, and returned to the region with $50,000 per team in seed funding from OGS to start new businesses.</p> <p>Since then, together with MIT students, they have been working to create new technology, products, and services designed for social impact.</p> <p>“For a startup that at its core is dealing with the way people live and consume in their daily lives, the design discourse and approach that accompanies the thinking at MITdesignX was especially significant in understanding the value we offer and refining the idea through asking the right questions and building a user’s journey,” says fellow Yishai Lehavi, an Israeli architect and co-founder of one of the new ventures, Tulou, based in Tel Aviv.</p> <p>“The work with the interns during the three months of the accelerator period — plus the second part of the program, which included their working with us in Israel — was significant in many ways and boosted our venture with in-depth market surveys, a detailed financial model, a mockup of our app, and constant brainstorming that challenged the idea and its potential realization,” he says.</p> <p>“We could really have an impact on the evolution of the businesses,” says Ayrlea Porter, a Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) student intern. “Having the opportunity to work with the same founders, over time and across different geographies, allowed us to form deep and lasting relationships.”</p> <p><strong>A partnership emerges</strong></p> <p>After attending a demo day from the second cohort of OGS in 2017, MITdesignX Executive Director Gilad Rosenzweig saw the great potential for MIT to partner with the program.</p> <p>“We found that among the OGS teams in the previous year, a couple were dealing with urban issues, specifically housing and design,” he says. “The idea quickly emerged that they should have had the resources of MITdesignX and MIT to help as well.”</p> <p>Almost immediately a partnership was formed among MITdesignX, MISTI, and OGS to create an MIT track to support selected fellows with architectural, planning, and design backgrounds. Rosenzweig traveled to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Ramallah to join OGS interviews and choose six fellows from dozens of finalists.</p> <p>MITdesignX and MISTI developed a special program for one month of the OGS fellowship, providing its workspace in Building 7, mentorship, design thinking workshops, and most important, a group of talented graduate student interns from DUSP and the Department of Architecture.</p> <p>The fellows’ presence on campus created an opportunity for students at MIT to learn about planning, the environment, and housing in the region from the perspective of young professionals seeking to disrupt the status quo. The teams’ student interns helped with design work, finances, and the development of the storyline.</p> <p>“The internship was the key,” says Rosenzweig. “The masters in city planning and masters in architecture students joined the three startups established by the fellows, supporting their work with knowledge and excitement.”</p> <p>MISTI’s role was clear from the start: providing insight about the region and then enabling and preparing students to travel during MIT's Independent Activities Period to get hands-on experience. MISTI Assistant Director David Dolev says, “This program and others, like our MISTI-MEET program, are opportunities for our students to learn about entrepreneurship, science, and technology and its capacity to create positive change in the Middle East.”</p> <p><strong>Developing technology to manage domestic water use on the West Bank</strong></p> <p>The <a href="">three startups</a> created by the teams are Tulou, Quix, and WATA. Tulou is creating a sharing service for household equipment in apartment buildings, so that renters or owners can use a communal vacuum cleaner, drill, or ladder. Quix is a service for more transparent and affordable home maintenance and repairs.</p> <p>WATA was developed by an Israeli industrial designer from Jerusalem and a water engineer and planner from the Palestinian city of Nablus. Their startup addresses an important water management issue in the West Bank and elsewhere in developing regions around the world.</p> <p>Running water is not constant in the West Bank; in fact, water might be made available only once a week, and sometimes less often in high-consumption summer months. As a result, water is stored in large black tanks on rooftops of homes and apartment buildings, and families must control their use to avoid running out before water again flows through the pipes.</p> <p>People have to manually check their tanks with poles to measure their supply. And stagnant water is a health concern. These conditions lead to anxiety and expense for families, especially those who need to buy more-expensive privately supplied water between deliveries.&nbsp;</p> <p>WATA is developing a device to measure the quantity and quality of water in rooftop tanks and deliver that information to households through a smartphone app. Data can also be used by authorities to compare and help manage water usage and prevent the emergence of harmful bacteria.</p> <p>For students, contributing to the development of new urban startups and living in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for three weeks in January made an impact, one that will grow next year as the program recruits its next cohort of fellows and interns.</p> <p>“Working with Israeli and Palestinian fellows forced us to consider products, processes, and procedures from a perspective that was entirely new,” says Marissa Reilly, a DUSP intern. “Authentic foreign environments often feel impossible to understand as a tourist, but by working in Israel and spending time with the fellows, we were exposed to sides of the culture we would never otherwise have seen.”</p> Israeli and Palestinian fellows from Our Generation Speaks work with MIT student interns at MITdesignX, a venture accelerator in the School of Architecture and Planning, to develop startups that tackle urban and design issues.Photo: Gilad RosenzweigSchool of Architecture + Planning, DesignX, MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), Urban studies and planning, Architecture, Independent Activities Period, Startups, Center for Real Estate, Media Lab, Art, Art, Culture and Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Innovation Initiative, Classes and programs, Design, Cities, Mentoring, Education, teaching, academics, Entrepreneurship, Undergraduate, Graduate, postdoctoral, Funding, International relations, MISTI, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Center for International Studies QS World University Rankings rates MIT No. 1 in 11 subjects for 2019 Institute ranks within the top 2 in 17 of 48 subject areas. Tue, 26 Feb 2019 19:00:00 -0500 MIT News Office <p>MIT has been honored with 11 No. 1 subject rankings in the QS World University Rankings for 2019.</p> <p>The Institute received a No. 1 ranking in the following QS subject areas: Chemistry; Computer Science and Information Systems; Chemical Engineering; Civil and Structural Engineering; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering; Linguistics; Materials Science; Mathematics; Physics and Astronomy; and Statistics and Operational Research.</p> <p>MIT also placed second in six subject areas: Accounting and Finance; Architecture/Built Environment; Biological Sciences; Earth and Marine Sciences; Economics and Econometrics; and Environmental Sciences.</p> <p>Quacquarelli Symonds Limited subject rankings, published annually, are designed to help prospective students find the leading schools in their field of interest. Rankings are based on research quality and accomplishments, academic reputation, and graduate employment.</p> <p>MIT has been ranked as the No. 1 university in the world by QS World University Rankings for seven straight years.</p> Rankings, Computer science and technology, Linguistics, Chemical engineering, Civil and environmental engineering, Mechanical engineering, Chemistry, Materials science, Mathematics, Physics, Economics, EAPS, Business and management, Accounting, Finance, DMSE, School of Engineering, School of Science, School of Architecture and Planning, Sloan School of Management, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science (eecs), Architecture, Biology, Aeronautical and astronautical engineering Leventhal City Prize seeks to spark transformative urban design and planning approaches New prize honors legendary developer and philanthropist Norman B. Leventhal. Wed, 20 Feb 2019 14:20:00 -0500 School of Architecture and Planning <p>Vibrant, innovative cities most often result from&nbsp;powerful collaborations among diverse constituencies.</p> <p>To support this ideal, the MIT Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU) has announced the creation of a new interdisciplinary prize aimed at catalyzing innovative urban design and planning approaches worldwide, with a goal of improving&nbsp;the quality of life and&nbsp;environment for residents.&nbsp;</p> <p>The prize has been established in honor of the late Norman B. Leventhal, the visionary developer and philanthropist whose contributions transformed Boston’s urban landscape. His civic leadership drove Boston’s urban revival, through projects such as Rowes Wharf, Center Plaza, South Station, and One Post Office Square.</p> <p>A prize of $100,000 will be awarded on a three-year cycle to an interdisciplinary team of MIT faculty to work together with either a government agency, nonprofit organization, or civic leadership group anywhere in the world. The winning team must demonstrate the potential to improve the quality of life in cities through an innovative urban design and/or a planning project. The winners must also&nbsp;be able to incorporate the collaborative project in future teaching and research at MIT.</p> <p>The prize has a number of goals:&nbsp;to develop real-world urban design solutions that advance social and environmental change; to foster new pathways for unconventional projects to get realized; to create innovative solutions using the most advanced knowledge available; and to promote collaboration among MIT faculty, students, and civic entities.</p> <p>“What makes this prize really unique is that it is offered to a city and an MIT team to work together,” says Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning.&nbsp;“True to the mission of the LCAU and the legacy of Norman Leventhal, it fosters collaboration, imagination, and implementation at the same time.”</p> <p>For its first cycle, the Norman B. Leventhal City Prize will solicit novel responses related to LCAU’s triennial theme, <a href="" target="_blank">equitable resilience</a>. Equitable resilience foregrounds concerns for equity when planning, designing, and retrofitting cities with consideration of climate change and other environmental shocks or stresses. Making equity a central goal for resilience efforts, LCAU seeks proposals from all geographies that aim to develop physical design solutions that do not reinforce existing inequalities or create new ones.</p> <p>“Many cities worldwide are connecting resilience adaptation goals with general development needs and strategic planning efforts,” says Alan M. Berger, the Norman B. Leventhal Professor of Advanced Urbanism. “Although these efforts provide a good starting point, it is imperative to make explicit the differential vulnerability of various socioeconomic groups in the face of increasing severity and frequency of climate change-related risks and natural disasters.”</p> <p>Since its establishment in 2013 within the School of Architecture and Planning, the LCAU has sought to define the field of advanced urbanism, integrating research on urban design with processes of urbanization and urban culture, to meet the contemporary challenges facing the world’s cities.</p> <p>Drawing on MIT’s deep history in urban design and planning, architecture, and transportation, the LCAU coordinates multidisciplinary, multifaceted approaches to advance the understanding of cities and propose new forms and systems for urban communities. Support for this program was provided by the Muriel and Norman B. Leventhal Family Foundation and the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation.</p> <p>For more details on the prize, see <a href=""></a>.</p> The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway has become a signature landmark in Downtown Boston.Photo: Greenway Conservancy and Kyle Klein PhotographySchool of Architecture and Planning, Urban studies and planning, Awards, honors and fellowships, Environment, Climate change, Cities, Architecture Creating new spaces for art Professor Judith Barry’s attention-grabbing installations create thought-provoking experiences for viewers. Mon, 11 Feb 2019 10:31:23 -0500 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office <p>For the first half of 2018, a large contemporary artwork greeted people entering the famed Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. An image two stories high on the museum’s façade showed people in a refugee boat looking upward — where a drone was taking photos.</p> <p>“Global Displacement,” stated text printed over the image. “1 in 100 people worldwide are displaced from their homes.”</p> <p>The installation was the work of Judith Barry, a prominent contemporary American artist and the new director of the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT). Like much of Barry’s oeuvre, this work was attention-grabbing, but with subtle twists. For example, the people in the original photo had been replaced by portraits of faces gazing upward, taken by associates in Barry’s studio.</p> <p>Those looking closely at the work might find themselves asking new questions. For instance: What if you recognized people in refugee boats, or saw them as people much like yourself?</p> <p>“Art constructs a space that people can inhabit,” Barry says. “And when you enter into the space that art makes, if you engage with the work in that space, other kinds of experiences are possible.”</p> <p>Over three decades, Barry has gained acclaim while making new spaces for people to inhabit in galleries around the world. She has created video installations for major museums, performance art pieces, collages, and much more, all while exploring socially relevant topics.</p> <p>“I don’t have a signature style,” Barry says. “The form and the content are derived from my research process. And that’s been the case since the very beginning.”</p> <p>That applies to works such as the Gardner mural among many others she has developed. Barry’s acclaimed 2011 work, “Cairo Stories,” was a video installation based on 215 interviews with Egyptian women describing the conditions of daily life they encounter, and took nearly a decade to complete; it was reinstalled at the Mary Boone gallery in New York City this fall.</p> <p>“I met many people across Egyptian society that I never would have gotten to know had I done the project in a shorter period of time,” Barry says. “It took many years, and the experience was profoundly moving.”</p> <p>Barry’s emphasis on research, innovation, and social relevance all make her a natural fit at MIT; Barry joined the Institute in January 2018 as a professor with tenure and head of ACT.</p> <p><strong>A training in space</strong></p> <p>Barry was born in Columbus, Ohio, although, as she recounts of her life growing up, “We were moving all the time.” Like some other kids who move a lot, Barry developed some transportable skills — “I could draw, and I was athletic” — which, in her case, included dance. As an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley, Barry studied architecture, and subsequently found herself working for a large firm in the field.</p> <p>“I got to design bathrooms and hallways and HVAC systems — all the things young architects do,” Barry says. “That was not interesting. But when I began taking art classes, another world opened to me.”</p> <p>Indeed, Barry soon realized that art was a place where she could combine many of her interests. Inspired in part by the renowned artist (and MIT professor emerita) Joan Jonas, Barry developed performance art pieces in San Francisco in the 1970s. Before long she had expanded her repertoire to include video art installations. Indeed, as a leading video-art practitioner, Barry had exhibitions in venues such as the New York’s Whitney Museum fairly soon after leaving art school (at the San Francisco Art Institute).</p> <p>“It was so different then,” Barry says of the 1970s art scene — meaning it was more open to newcomers of many backgrounds. By the late 1980s, she thinks, careers in the field had already begun to depend more on professionalized study, with graduate art degrees becoming the norm for many aspiring artists.</p> <p>Still, as Barry notes, education is highly valuable. She herself has often used her architectural training in her career as an artist.</p> <p>“When you’re in the space of an art exhibition, art happens at that moment when the viewer and the artwork come into contact,” Barry says. “It doesn’t necessarily carry over into daily life or another experience. But there are those moments when you encounter an artwork and something happens — it’s the sense of discovery and your engagement that produces an art experience. I try to set places where this can happen when I design my work. I use my architecture training as a methodology to interrogate space, so that in certain spots, something happens spatially that might keep you engaged.”</p> <p>All told, Barry has been a prolific artist and gained international recognition for her challenging works. Among other honors, she received the Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts in 2000, the “Best Pavilion” award at the Cairo Biennale in 2001, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011. Barry’s work has been displayed multiple times at the Venice Biennale, the Whitney, and biennales in Berlin, Nagoya Biennale, Sao Paolo, Sydney, Sharjah (in the United Arab Emirates, where “Cairo Stories” debuted), among others.</p> <p><strong>At the Institute</strong></p> <p>Along the way, Barry spent one academic year teaching at MIT, in 2002-03, and says she is eager to explore new possibilities for teaching and creating art at ACT.</p> <p>“It’s a great opportunity to rethink the question of what art, culture, and technology might become in the 21st century, and especially at MIT where you’re in a maw of technology and which is unlike traditional art schools,” Barry says. “I hope to use my time as director to put together programs and projects that reflect this revised sense of art, culture, and technology.”</p> <p>Among other things, Barry notes, artists are grappling with issues of diversity in evolving ways: “In terms of culture, you have to ask, what is culture today? It is not one unified culture, but composed of many diverse cultures which are reflected in the student population at MIT.”</p> <p>Barry finds herself in an interesting position with regard to technology, as well. She has often used technologies in her work, even while depicting tensions that arise in part from technological forces.</p> <p>“Now we’re living in a technology-anxious time, where you read article after article about AI and robots taking over the world,” Barry says. “One of the major issues about technology facing society is your privacy, for instance. Or the anxiety that because machines do not rely on visual language, the need for mimesis [the depiction of things] will disappear. I hope questions about how technology affects daily life will become part of a much broader public debate.” &nbsp;</p> <p>Indeed, Barry adds, “Artists are often charged with the task of representation — in other words, finding ways to make these issues visible. Art has an important role to play in this discussion.”</p> Judith Barry's installation "Study for the Mirror and Garden" uses video and special effects, along with architectural mirroring, to evoke the secret gardens, hidden meanings, and picaresque narratives of the “converso” tradition in Spanish literature and culture — which allowed banished cultures to survive by hiding in plain sight.Courtesy of Judith Barry and Mary Boone Gallery, NYCSchool of Architecture and Planning, Art, Culture and Technology, Arts, Architecture, Faculty, Profile, Technology and society, Artificial intelligence First step on Volpe parcel planned for 2019 Building and landscape designs for new federal building are now complete. Tue, 05 Feb 2019 19:30:00 -0500 MIT News Office <p>Since the Cambridge City Council <a href="">approved</a> MIT’s rezoning petition for the 14-acre U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Volpe site in October 2017, a team of architects and landscape planners has been working to imagine a new home for the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Kendall Square.</p> <p>As part of its January 2017 <a href="">agreement</a> with the federal government, MIT will build a new headquarters for the U.S. DOT Volpe Center on approximately four acres. The building site is located in the northwest corner of the parcel, next to Binney Street and Loughrey Walkway, which runs between Broadway and Binney Street. The new facility will consolidate operations that are currently carried out in six different buildings on the site.</p> <p>The federal government, working through the General Services Administration (GSA), and MIT engaged architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to design the new building, which is slated to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold level. The design includes robust sustainability and resiliency features, including solar panels on the roof that will supply at least 30 percent of the building’s hot water demand, and high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and cooling equipment. The team designed the building’s massing, glazing, and interior layouts to maximize daylight into the building, and designed fins on the exterior façades to minimize heating and cooling loads. In addition, the site will incorporate best practices in storm water management.</p> <p>Although the project is not subject to local review, the design of the new 212-foot-tall center was subject to the federal government’s rigorous review process as part of the <a href="">GSA Design Excellence Program</a>. This process also considered design guidelines recommended by the City of Cambridge, included peer reviews, and ultimately was approved by the GSA’s regional chief architect and the chief architect of the U.S.</p> <p>MIT Managing Director of Real Estate Steve Marsh says: “This is a very complex project that is being executed on behalf of the United States government. The collaboration with the federal government has gone very well, and we are pleased with the outcome of the building and landscape design processes. I believe that the new U.S. DOT Volpe Center will be a welcome and vibrant addition to the broader Kendall Square community.”</p> <p>Inviting and engaging public spaces, including seating areas and walkways, will surround the federal headquarters. A primary goal of the public space is to bring the East Cambridge neighborhood and Kendall Square community together through a new north-south connection. The development of this currently inaccessible site, which comprises predominantly asphalt surface parking, will promote access to and from the residential neighborhood, the Charles River, the MBTA, and the many retail and restaurant offerings in Kendall Square.</p> <p>In order to achieve this sense of openness and connectivity, the GSA and MIT engaged&nbsp;artist Maya Lin, known for her large-scale, site-specific outdoor earthworks, in coordination with landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand, to create an engaging and inviting public landscape. Central to the open space will be Lin’s landscape-integrated art piece —&nbsp;a physical and visual representation of the Doppler effect, manifested in undulating grassy mounds that depict sound waves.</p> <p>The incorporation of a Maya Lin art piece within the site is part of the Federal government’s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Art in Architecture</a>&nbsp;program which commissions artworks for new buildings nationwide.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Since the outset of the project, the GSA has been focused on constructing a headquarters that is inviting and reflects the context of the site’s surroundings. GSA Regional Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service&nbsp;Glenn Rotondo says: “We are committed to creating a public realm that is well-integrated within the community.”</p> <p>Once completed, the new U.S. DOT Volpe development will include primarily below-grade vehicular parking and ample bicycle parking. In addition, over 100 new diverse native-species trees will be installed using current best practices in planting, and an extensive landscaping program will be available for the public to enjoy. Even though the federal government is exempt from Cambridge’s local tree ordinance, the tree replacement plan is designed to materially exceed the current local requirements for large projects. To prepare the site for construction, 21 private trees will be removed that are within the building’s footprint or security perimeter. Twenty of those trees are Norway Maples, an invasive species that Massachusetts prohibits from being sold, planted, or propagated. In addition, two street trees will need to be relocated or replaced to accommodate a curb cut required by the project.</p> <p>Enabling utility work on the Federal site is ongoing, and construction of the garage and building is expected to start later this year and take approximately three years. Once the new John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center is up and running, the Institute will be able to commence redevelopment of the remaining 10 acres of the original U.S. DOT Volpe parcel. MIT’s proposal for that portion of the site, which was presented to the community during the rezoning process, features housing (including 280 affordable units), commercial and lab space, retail, open space, a community center, and a job connector.</p> <p>MIT is currently advancing other commitments that were codified as part of the Volpe rezoning agreement. The Institute has already provided $500,000 toward the design of the Grand Junction multiuse community path, which will be followed by an additional $8 million contribution for continuing design and construction. MIT staff are currently working closely with the city and other stakeholders to implement this critical infrastructure project. In addition, the Institute is in the process of identifying a site for a new 500-bed graduate student residence hall — a commitment made to the City of Cambridge through the Volpe zoning process.</p> <p>The U.S. DOT Volpe building and landscape design is being shared with the Cambridge Planning Board tonight at the board’s annual Town Gown public meeting.</p> A view of the new U.S. DOT Volpe building as seen from Binney Street looking west.Image courtesy of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP (SOM)Kendall Square, Real estate, Campus buildings and architecture, Cambridge, Boston and region, Community, Administration, Innovation and Entrpreneurship (I&E), Startups, Arts, Architecture Applying physics to energy-efficient building design Christoph Reinhart is internationally known for using natural light to illuminate interiors and his lab&#039;s design tools are used by architects and urban planners worldwide. Wed, 16 Jan 2019 11:25:00 -0500 Kathryn M. O'Neill | MIT Energy Initiative <p>Developing a perfectly energy-efficient building is relatively easy to do — if you don’t give the building’s occupants any control over their environment. Since nobody wants that kind of building, Professor&nbsp;<a href="">Christoph Reinhart</a>&nbsp;has focused his career on finding ways to make buildings more energy-efficient while keeping user needs in mind.</p> <p>“At this point in designing buildings, the biggest uncertainty comes from user behavior,” says Reinhart, who heads the&nbsp;<a href="">Sustainable Design Lab</a>&nbsp;in MIT’s Department of Architecture. “Once you understand heat flow, it’s a very exact science to see how much heat to add or take from a space.”</p> <p>Trained in physics, Reinhart made the move to architecture because he wanted to apply the scientific concepts he’d learned to make buildings more comfortable and energy-efficient. Today, he is internationally known for his work in what architects call&nbsp;“daylighting” — the use of natural light to illuminate building interiors —&nbsp;and urban-level environmental building performance analysis. The design tools that emerged from his lab are used by architects and urban planners in more than 90 countries.</p> <p>The Sustainable Design Lab’s work has also produced two spinoff companies: Mapdwell, which provides individualized cost-benefit analyses for installing solar panels; and Solemma, which provides environmental analysis tools such as DIVA-for-Rhino, a highly optimized daylighting and energy modeling software component. Reinhart is a co-founder and strategic development advisor at Mapdwell, and he is CEO of Solemma.</p> <p>Through it all, physics has remained a central underpinning. “Everything our lab develops is based on physics first,” says Reinhart, who earned master’s degrees in physics from Albert Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg, Germany, and Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.</p> <p><strong>Informing design</strong></p> <p>A lifelong environmentalist, Reinhart says he was inspired to study architecture in part by the work of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, which built a completely self-sufficient solar house in Freiburg in the early 1990s.</p> <p>While finishing his master’s thesis, Reinhart says, he also read an article that suggested that features such as color can be more important than performance to architects choosing a solar system — an idea that drove him to find ways to empower architects to consider aesthetics and the environmental performance of their designs at the same time. He began this effort by investigating daylighting at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, Germany.</p> <p>Light is incredibly important from a design standpoint — architects talk of “painting with light” — but there are also significant technical challenges involved in lighting, such as how to manage heat and glare, Reinhart says.</p> <p>“You need good sky models and you need good rendering tools to model the light. You also need computer science to make it faster — but that’s just the basics,” Reinhart says, noting that the next step is to consider how people perceive and use natural light. “This really nuanced way of thinking is what makes daylighting so fun and interesting.”</p> <p>For example, designers typically render buildings with all the blinds open. If they learn that people will keep the blinds down 90 percent&nbsp;of the time with a given design, they are likely to rethink it, Reinhart says, because “nobody wants that.”</p> <p>The daylighting analysis software developed by Reinhart’s team in 1998 provides just this kind of information. Known as DAYSIM, it is now used all over the world to model annual daylight availability in and around buildings.</p> <p>Reinhart has also published&nbsp;textbooks on daylighting:&nbsp;“Daylighting Handbook I: Fundamentals and Designing with the Sun”&nbsp;was published in in 2014, and a&nbsp;second volume,&nbsp;“Daylighting Handbook II: Daylight Simulations and Dynamic Facades,” was released last October.</p> <p>“Daylighting was really my first way into architecture,” Reinhart says, noting that he thinks it’s wonderful that the field combines “rock solid science” like sky modeling with more subjective questions related to the users’ experience, such as: “When is sunlight a liability?” and “When does it add visual interest?”</p> <p><strong>Teaching and advising</strong></p> <p>After earning his doctorate in architecture from Technical University in 2001, Reinhart taught briefly at McGill University in Canada before being named an associate professor of architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. In 2009, the student forum there named him faculty member of the year.</p> <p>In 2012, he joined the faculty at MIT, where he typically supervises seven or eight graduate students, including about three working on their PhDs. Often, he also has students working in his lab through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. Several students&nbsp;majoring in computer science have proved particularly helpful, he says.</p> <p>“It’s amazing what MIT students can implement,” he says.</p> <p>Reinhart is also an instructor, of course, notably teaching 4.401/4.464 (Environmental Technologies in Buildings), which focuses on how to assess the energy efficiency of buildings.</p> <p>“There’s nothing more fun — especially at an institution like MIT — than to teach these concepts,” he says.</p> <p>The MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) is now working to make that subject available online via MITx, and the class is expected to be part of a planned graduate certificate in energy, according to Antje Danielson, MITEI’s director of education.</p> <p><strong>City-scale modeling</strong></p> <p>Meanwhile, Reinhart has scaled his own research up to modeling energy use at the city level. In 2016, he and colleagues unveiled an energy model for Boston that estimates the gas and electricity demands of every building in the city — and his team has since assessed other urban areas.</p> <p>This work has underscored for him how significant user behavior is to calculating energy use.</p> <p>“For an individual building you can get a sense of the user behavior, but if you want to model a whole city, that problem explodes on you,” Reinhart says, noting that his team uses statistical methods such as Bayesian calibration to determine likely behaviors.</p> <p>Essentially, they collect data on energy use and train the computer to recognize different scenarios, such as the energy used by different numbers of people and appliances.</p> <p>“We throw 800 user behaviors at a sample of buildings, and since we know how much energy these buildings actually use, we only keep those behavioral patterns that give us the right energy use,” Reinhart says, explaining that repeating the process produces a curve that indicates the buildings’ most likely uses. “We don’t know exactly where people are, but at the urban level, we get it right.”</p> <p>Determining how energy is being used at this broad scale provides critical information for addressing the needs of the energy system as a whole, Reinhart says. That’s why Reinhart is currently working with&nbsp;<a href="">Exelon Corporation</a>, a major national energy provider, to assess energy use in Chicago. “We can say, let’s foster these kinds of upgrades and pretty much guarantee that this is how the energy load throughout a neighborhood or for particular substations will change—which is just what utilities want to know,” he says.</p> <p><strong>The food-energy-water nexus</strong></p> <p>Recently, Reinhart has also begun investigating ways to make food production more energy-efficient and sustainable. His lab is developing a software component that can estimate food yields, associated use of energy and water, and the carbon emissions that result for different types of urban farms.</p> <p>For example, hydroponic container farming — a system of growing food without soil inside something like a shipping container — is now being promoted by companies in some cities, including Boston. This system typically uses more electricity than conventional farming does, but that energy use can be more than offset by the reduced need for transportation, Reinhart says. Already, Reinhart’s team has shown that rooftop and container farming on available land in Lisbon, Portugal, could theoretically meet the city’s total vegetable demand.</p> <p>This work exploring the nexus between food, energy, and water is just the next level of complexity for Reinhart in a career dedicated to moving the needle on sustainability. Fortunately, he’s not alone in his work; he has sent a host of young academics out into the world to work on similar concerns.</p> <p>Reinhart's former graduate students now work at universities including Cornell, Harvard, Syracuse, and the University of Toronto, and he continues to collaborate with them on projects.</p> <p>It’s like having a growing family, says Reinhart, a father of two. “Students never leave. It’s like kids.”</p> <div>This article appeared&nbsp;in the&nbsp;<a href="">Autumn 2018</a>&nbsp;issue of <em>Energy Futures</em>, the magazine of the MIT Energy Initiative.</div> Professor Reinhart (left) and architecture graduate student Hellen Rose Anyango Awino discuss a class assignment on measuring thermal comfort.Photo: Kelley Travers/MITEISchool of Architecture and Planning, Architecture, Sustainability, Design, Energy, Solar, Food, Water, Urban studies and planning, MIT Energy Initiative Hashim Sarkis named curator of 2020 Venice Biennale Architecture Exhibition Dean of MIT&#039;s School of Architecture and Planning will curate the global showcase for architectural work. Wed, 19 Dec 2018 06:54:59 -0500 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office <p>Hashim Sarkis, Dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, has been named curator of the Venice Biennale’s 17th International Architecture Exhibition, to be held in 2020.</p> <p>The exhibition is a premier global showcase for architectural work, and has been held every two years in Venice since 1980.</p> <p>“With Hashim Sarkis, La Biennale has provided itself with a Curator who is particularly aware of the topics and criticalities which the various contrasting realities of today's society pose for our living space,” said Paolo Baratta, president of the Venice Biennale, in a prepared statement.</p> <p>“The world is putting new challenges in front of architecture,” Sarkis says. “I look forward to working with participating architects from around the world to imagine together how we are going to rise to these challenges. Thank you President Baratta and the Venice Biennale team for providing architecture this important platform. I am both honored and humbled.”</p> <p>Sarkis received his BA in architecture and in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1987, and his MA and PhD from Harvard University, in 1989 and 1995, respectively. He was a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design from 1998 until January 2015, when he joined MIT.&nbsp;</p> <p>As an architectural practitioner, Sarkis also runs Hashim Sarkis Studios and has designed a wide variety of structures — including government buildings, schools, and residences — on multiple continents. An apartment building Sarkis designed in Tyre, Lebanon, has been named as one of the most significant buildings of the 21st century by “The Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture.”</p> <p>Sarkis has also written widely about modern architecture and urban design. His publications include the book “Circa 1958: Lebanon in the Pictures and Plans of Constantinos Doxiadis,” and the edited volumes “CASE: Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital” and “Josep Lluis Sert: The Architect of Urban Design” (co-edited with Eric Mumford).</p> <p>The International Architecture Exhibition will run from May through November of 2020.</p> Hashim SarkisPhoto: Sham SthankiyaArchitecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Design, Arts, Awards, honors and fellowships Q&amp;A: Roger Conover on a lifetime in publishing Longtime executive editor for art and architecture at the MIT Press discusses his experiences in the publishing world. Wed, 12 Dec 2018 11:50:01 -0500 MIT Press <p><em>After four decades at the MIT Press, <a href="" target="_blank">Roger Conover</a> will be stepping down from his full-time role as executive editor for art and architecture. During his extraordinary tenure, Conover’s curatorial vision has had an enormous impact on the publishing world and on the shape of writing about art. Craig Dworkin, author of "<a href="" target="_blank">No Medium</a>" and editor of <a href="" target="_blank">"Language to Cover a Page: The Early Writings of Vito Acconci</a>," recently sat down with Conover to talk about his long career.</em></p> <p><strong>Q:</strong>&nbsp;I wanted to start by asking how you made your way from literature to the visual arts. At the beginning of the 1970s, you were a published poet — having won an award from the Academy of American Poets and been granted a fellowship to spend time writing poetry in Ireland. In fact, you were cited by Hart Crane's biographer, John Unterecker, as one of the promising young poets of your generation, along with Paul Muldoon and Gregory Orr. That was in 1973. You also went to graduate school in English, were a licensed lobsterfisherman, and briefly worked in theater. &nbsp;But by the end of the decade you were the editor of art and architecture books for MIT Press. How did that happen?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong>&nbsp;The answer is a bit circuitous, but I’ll try my best. For two years in the early 1970s I lived in Ireland, thanks to a fellowship from the Watson Foundation: one year in Donegal, part of it spent commuting to the Yeats school in Sligo, and the second year in Dublin, where I met a number of poet-editors. I went there to channel [W.B.] Yeats, but by the time I left, it was much more about [Samuel] Beckett and [James] Joyce (by way of [Seamus] Heaney, [Charles Edward] Montague, [W.P.] Kinsella, [Derek] Mahon). When the grant was up I bought the cheapest ticket I could find back to the States: Dublin to Boston. I had the typical English major’s resume plus some poems published in Ireland and Wales. There weren’t many literary publishing houses in Boston, but there were a few. I sent my resume to all of them — Godine, Atlantic, Houghton-Mifflin, Little-Brown — with a cringeworthy cover letter recalling T.S. Eliot quitting his bank job to work for Faber and Faber, who in 1925 sought an&nbsp;editor “who combines literary gifts with business instincts.” In retrospect, I guess I can say that the only comparison is durational: We both stayed in our editorial positions for over 40 years. And that every editor makes mistakes; Eliot famously turned down Orwell’s&nbsp;“Animal Farm,” and I turned down too many good books to mention. &nbsp;</p> <p>[There were] no publishing offers for the latest poetry arrival in Boston. So I became a "Kelly Girl", a.k.a. a "temporary office worker" for Kelly Services, shifting from venue to venue making an hourly wage as a typist. I had never taken an art or architecture class, but I had taken a typing class in high school, and in the long arc of chance, that had as much as anything else to do with how I got the MIT Press position. We used Selectric typewriters in those days, with those redemptive self-correction ribbons. I had once won a boys’ typewriting competition in high school. So one day I’m asked by Kelly Services to show up at a firm called The Architects' Collaborative [TAC]. I don’t know if I was told that this was the firm founded by Walter Gropius when he left the Bauhaus (which he had also founded) to teach at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, but this would not have meant anything to me at the time. I had never taken an art or architecture class. I typed there for a few months, then I was offered a full-time job as a writer/editor in the graphic design department. Gropius was dead by then, but Ise Gropius would make an appearance now and then, and I got to know most of the other founding principals: Norman Fletcher, John Harkness, Sarah Harkness, and Louis McMillan were all still working there then. &nbsp;</p> <p>One day an ad appears in <em>The Boston Globe</em>. MIT Press was looking for an architecture editor. They had already published the monumental "Bauhaus" book by Hans Wingler, as well as earlier books by Walter Gropius, Moholy-Nagy, Josef Albers, and Oskar Schlemmer — all Bauhaus people. There were some MIT/TAC ties through Muriel Cooper, MIT Press’s first design director, who had designed some of those books, and through Gyorgy Kepes, who came to MIT from the New Bauhaus in Chicago and brought Muriel Cooper to MIT. In those days, she was setting MIT Press books in Helvetica on Selectric typewriters. We met, and talked Helvetica, Selectric, and Herbert Bayer, who I knew quite well by then because he was the modernist poet Mina Loy’s son-in-law. But that’s another story. To come to the point, I got lucky, poetry happened, and books came of it. I later published monographs on both Bayer and Cooper.</p> <p><strong>Q:</strong>&nbsp;With books as one common denominator, obviously, were there other continuities between what you had been doing with poetry and literature, and what you began doing with architecture and, later, art?&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>A:</strong>&nbsp;When I started, I knew much more about what made good writing than good art. If I didn’t know what made a building great, or a painting beautiful, at least I knew what a good sentence was. I went with that. The manuscripts I am drawn to have always had more to do with the quality of writing than the recognition of the author or the availability of the subject. That’s probably why over half of the books I have published are by first-time authors — people who had something to say rather than people writing books to secure careers or tenure. That’s still what I look for today. This bias is probably what led to a sympathy for architectural theory and a publishing program built around architectural discourse and poetics rather than practice. I am interested in the ways that writing occupies space in the environment, that buildings occupy intellectual ground, and that art blurs into life. I love seeing the movements and unexpected events that take place within these structures: buildings as vessels for ideas, poems as objects, art as existence. I am more interested in architecture as a conceptual medium, a language of possibility, and a way of materializing imagination than as a strictly professional or functional practice; the MIT Press list reflects that.</p> <p>I have enjoyed exploring the continuities you mention through the visionaries, outsiders, fugitives, and imposters who have contributed so much to the history of art, architecture, and literature even if they come from outside it. It is not an accident that MIT list is informed by writers and thinkers who were formed by Pataphysics, Dimensionism, Dadaism, Situationism, the Independent Group, the Sex Pistols, Black Mountain College, and Psychedelics, as well as from Buffalo, Halifax, Ljubljana, Bucharest, Laos, and Lagos. Like Guy Debord said, “we have to multiply poetic subjects and objects, and we have to organize games of these poetic objects among these poetic subjects.”&nbsp;</p> <p>In response to your question, I also want to say that the work of publishers like Dick Higgins,&nbsp;Gérard Lebovici,&nbsp;Seth Siegelaub, and Jonathan William — those four in particular — was tremendously influential. They all transected fields and occupied margins in ways that should not be forgotten.</p> <p><strong>Q:</strong>&nbsp;Part of your legacy at MIT has been to reframe certain genres of writing, and in some cases poetry specifically, as art practices — as analogues to sculpture and painting and performance. Do you think of your work as “literary” editing?</p> <p><strong>A:</strong>&nbsp;Some curators work for museums, some for artists. Some editors work for publishers, others for writers. I never considered myself working in service of either. I loved publishing the poems of Claude Cahun, the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, John Hejduk, Roger Connah, Frank O’Hara, Francis Picabia, etc., but I knew this was not my job.</p> <p><strong>Q:</strong>&nbsp;Thank you for taking the time to talk. Anyone who has edited almost 1,500 books is used to doing a lot of things at once, and I know that one of things you’ll be juggling is continued work on the poet/boxer/provocateur Arthur Cravan, who vanished without a trace in 1918. I’ve always thought that you share a lot with Cravan — given his&nbsp;outsider sensibility, literary acumen, and pugilistic wit —&nbsp;but it’s good to know that&nbsp;unlike&nbsp;him you won’t be vanishing.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>A:</strong> You’re quite welcome.</p> Roger ConoverPhoto: Maura McEvoyStaff, MIT Press, Arts, Design, Architecture, Books and authors, History of MIT, Humanities, Literature Gift from Carmen ’78 and John ’77 Thain supports Met Warehouse renovation project MIT Corporation members boost plan to relocate School of Architecture and Planning into historic building. Thu, 29 Nov 2018 17:20:01 -0500 MIT Resource Development <p>The proposed renovation of the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse as a new location for the MIT School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to a significant gift from Carmen ’78 and John ’77 Thain, both members of the MIT Corporation.&nbsp;</p> <p>The project, announced by the Institute in June, would create a new hub for interdisciplinary education and research in art, design, and urbanism at MIT with ties to dozens of other departments and centers across the Institute. Relocating SA+P to the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse, centrally located on campus, could expand MIT’s classroom and design studio space, increase exhibition capacity, create a new center for the arts, incorporate areas for collaboration-based work, and open new spaces for public use. The possible move would also bring SA+P into closer proximity with the residential population of MIT’s campus. A new makerspace in the renovated building, with expanded design and fabrication facilities, would be available to the entire MIT community.&nbsp;</p> <p>“We are happy to support the effort to reimagine the historic Metropolitan Storage Warehouse for SA+P,” says Carmen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture at the Institute. “This is an exciting opportunity for MIT to create new spaces that serve the needs of today’s students and educators while preserving a historic building of distinctive character at the heart of campus.” Adds John: “This renovation has the potential to benefit SA+P — and indeed the whole of MIT — in many ways, from adding modernized facilities to consolidating MIT’s strengths in cross-disciplinary design research and education to connecting communities across the Institute. Carmen and I are proud to be a part of this important project.”</p> <p>The Thains have a long history of support for the Institute. Carmen is a term member of the MIT Corporation and serves on the Corporation Visiting Committee for Architecture. She is a co-chair of the MIT Campaign for a Better World and a member of the MIT Campaign Leadership Council. John, a former chairman and CEO of the CIT Group, is a life member of the MIT Corporation and serves on the Corporation Executive Committee. He is chair of the Corporation Visiting Committee for the MIT Sloan School of Management and is on the MIT Sloan Americas Executive Board. He is also on the Corporation Visiting Committee for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. The couple have also hosted events during the MIT Campaign for a Better World. They are long-term supporters of the MIT Sloan Annual Fund and various core needs across campus.</p> <p>“For many years, John and Carmen's foresight, wisdom, and generosity have contributed greatly to the life of the Institute,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “Their support for the proposed conversion of the Metropolitan Storage Warehouse into a new design hub will help to transform a building whose purpose was to shield its contents from the outside into a vibrant, open community brimming with new ideas and inspirations and eager to share them with the world. We are deeply grateful to the Thains for their commitment to advancing MIT's mission.”</p> <p>SA+P is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top schools of architecture, planning, and design.&nbsp;It is a place of many “firsts”: the&nbsp;first department of architecture in the&nbsp;United States — which this year is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its first graduating class — and the oldest continuously running department of urban studies and planning. SA+P was also the first academic center for real estate to offer a professional degree and the first school to graduate an African-American architect (Robert Robinson Taylor in 1892).&nbsp;</p> <p>“For more than a century, SA+P has been turning out some of the most influential figures in architecture and design. Today, our students, faculty, and alumni are the leading voices in their fields, offering inspiring new visions for the built environment, a livable planet, and the innovation economy,” says Hashim Sarkis, dean of SA+P. “With the extraordinary support of the Thains, the Metropolitan Warehouse renovation project is poised to add fresh energy to this impactful work, generating opportunities for design research and education and creating a new gateway for MIT.”&nbsp;</p> Located at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street, the Metropolitan Warehouse opened in 1895 as a storage facility and was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1986. Photo: Jose-Luis Olivares/MIT NewsCampus buildings and architecture, Giving, Alumni/ae, Architecture, Urban studies and planning, School of Architecture and Planning Times Higher Education ranks MIT No.1 in business and economics, No.2 in arts and humanities Worldwide honors for 2019 span three MIT schools. Thu, 15 Nov 2018 13:25:01 -0500 School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences <p>MIT has taken the top spot in the Business and Economics subject category in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings and, for the second year in a row, the No. 2 spot worldwide for Arts and Humanities.<br /> <br /> The Times Higher Education World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by&nbsp;<em>Times Higher Education,</em> a leading British education magazine. The rankings use a set of 13 rigorous performance indicators to evaluate schools both overall and within individual fields. Criteria include teaching and learning environment, research volume and influence, and international outlook.</p> <p><strong>Business and Economics</strong></p> <p>The No. 1 ranking for Business and Economics is based on an evaluation of both the MIT Department of Economics — housed in the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences — and of the MIT Sloan School of Management.</p> <p>“We are always delighted when the high quality of work going on in our school and across MIT is recognized, and warmly congratulate our colleagues in MIT Sloan with whom we share this honor,” said Melissa Nobles, the Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS).</p> <p>The Business and Economics ranking evaluated 585 universities for their excellence in business, management, accounting, finance, economics, and econometrics subjects. In this category, MIT was followed by Stanford University and Oxford University.</p> <p>“Being recognized as first in business and management is gratifying and we are thrilled to share the honors with our colleagues in the MIT Department of Economics and MIT SHASS,” said David Schmittlein, dean of MIT Sloan.</p> <p>MIT has long been a powerhouse in economics. For over a century, the Department of Economics at MIT has played a leading role in economics education, research, and public service and the department’s faculty have won a total of nine Nobel Prizes over the years. MIT Sloan faculty have also won two Nobels, and the school is known as a driving force behind MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem: Companies started by MIT alumni have created millions of jobs and generate nearly $2 trillion a year in revenue.</p> <p><strong>Arts and Humanities</strong></p> <p>The Arts and Humanities ranking evaluated 506 universities that lead in art, performing arts, design, languages, literature, linguistics, history, philosophy, theology, architecture, and archaeology subjects. MIT was rated just below Stanford and above Harvard University in this category. MIT’s high ranking reflects the strength of both the humanities disciplines and performing arts located in MIT SHASS and the design fields and humanistic work located in MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P).</p> <p>At MIT, outstanding humanities and arts programs in SHASS — including literature; history; music and theater arts; linguistics; philosophy; comparative media studies; writing; languages; science, technology and society; and women’s and gender studies — sit alongside equally strong initiatives within SA+P in the arts; architecture; design; urbanism; and history, theory, and criticism. SA+P is also home to the Media Lab, which focuses on unconventional research in technology, media, science, art, and design.</p> <p>“The recognition from <em>Times Higher Education</em> confirms the importance of creativity and human values in the advancement of science and technology,” said Hashim Sarkis, dean of SA+P. “It also rewards MIT’s longstanding commitment to “The Arts” — words that are carved in the Lobby 7 dome signifying one of the main areas for the application of technology.”</p> <p>Receiving awards in multiple categories and in categories that span multiple schools at MIT is a recognition of the success MIT has had in fostering cross-disciplinary thinking, said Dean Nobles.</p> <p>“It’s a testament to the strength of MIT’s model that these areas of scholarship and pedagogy are deeply seeded in multiple administrative areas,” Nobles said. “At MIT, we know that solving challenging problems requires the combined insight and knowledge from many fields. The world’s complex issues are not only scientific and technological problems; they are as much human and ethical problems.”</p> “At MIT, we know that solving challenging problems requires the combined knowledge and insight from many fields. The world’s complex issues are not only scientific and technological problems; they are as much human and ethical problems,” says Melissa Nobles, the Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.Photo: Madcoverboy/Wikimedia CommonsAwards, honors and fellowships, Arts, Architecture, Business and management, Comparative Media Studies/Writing, Economics, Global Studies and Languages, Humanities, History, Literature, Linguistics, Management, Music, Philosophy, Theater, Urban studies and planning, Rankings, Media Lab, School of Architecture and Planning, Sloan School of Management, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences Ekene Ijeoma joins MIT Media Lab The new media arts and sciences faculty member merges social justice with design, architecture, music, performance, and technology. Wed, 07 Nov 2018 10:10:00 -0500 Stacie Slotnick | MIT Media Lab <p>Artist Ekene Ijeoma will join the MIT Media Lab, founding and directing the Poetic Justice research group, in January 2019. Ijeoma, who will be an assistant professor, works at the intersections of design, architecture, music, performance, and technology, creating multisensory artworks from personal experiences, social issues, and data studies.</p> <p>Ijeoma's work explores topics and issues ranging from refugee migration to mass incarceration. At its most basic level, the work aspires to embody&nbsp;human conditions, expand people's thoughts, and engage them in imagining change and acting on it. At the lab, Ijeoma will continue this work in developing new forms of justice through artistic representation and intervention.</p> <p>“New forms of justice can emerge through art that engages with social, cultural and political issues — ones that aren’t tied to codified laws and biased systems,” he&nbsp;says.</p> <p>When asked to define “poetic justice,” Ijeoma explained that, for him, the phrase is about using code-switching content, form, context, and function to create artwork with rhythm and harmony that extends our perceptions and exposes the social-political systems affecting us as individuals. An example of this is his “Deconstructed Anthems” project, an ongoing series of music performances and light installations that explores the inequalities of the American Dream and realities of mass incarceration through “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and “​Pan-African AIDS,” a sculpture examining the hypervisibility of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa and the hidden one in Black America.&nbsp;“​Pan-African AIDS,” is on display through April&nbsp;2019 at the Museum of the City of New York as part of the exhibit <a href="" target="_blank">Germ City: Microbes and the Metropolis</a>.</p> <p>Ijeoma’s art practice has been primarily project-based and commission-driven. His recent large works, both deeply conceptual yet highly technical projects, required research and development to happen concurrently with the production of the work. At the Media Lab, with more space for trial and error and failure, he will have the resources and facilities to stay reflective and proactive, to create work outside of commissions, and to expand more artworks into series. In addition, he will have opportunities for more listening to and meditating on issues.</p> <p>“Like many artists,” said Ijeoma, “A lot of my work comes from vibing and forward thinking —&nbsp;channeling my environment and signaling out the noise.” This aspect of his practice is reflected in work such as “The Refugee Project ” (2014), released a few months before the European refugee crisis, and “Look Up” (2016), released a few days before Pokemon Go; and more recently “Pan-African AIDS” which was presented as news was breaking on the underreported AIDS epidemic in the black populations in areas including the American South.</p> <p>Ijeoma’s work has been commissioned and presented by venues and events including the Museum of Modern Art, The Kennedy Center, the Design Museum, the Istanbul Design Biennial, Fondation EDF, the Annenberg Space for Photography, the Neuberger Museum of Art at the State University of New York at Purchase, and Storefront for Art and Architecture.</p> <p>“We are thrilled that Ekene Ijeoma will be joining the Media Lab and MAS program,” said Tod Machover, head of the Program in Media Arts and Sciences, the Media Lab’s academic program. “Ekene’s work is brilliant, bold, and beautiful, and the way he combines expression, reflection, innovation, and activism will place him at the absolute center of Media Lab culture, hopefully for many years to come.”</p> <p>Ekene Ijeoma graduated with a BS in information technology from Rochester Institute of Technology, and an MA in interaction design from Domus Academy. He has lectured and critiqued at Yale University, Harvard Law School, Columbia University, New York University, the School of Visual Arts, and The New School.</p> Artist Ekene Ijeoma sits with “​Pan-African AIDS,” a sculpture representing the hyper-visibility of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa and the hidden one in Black America.Photo: Kris Graves, courtesy of Ekene IjeomaSchool of Architecture and Planning, Media Lab, Arts, Faculty, Design, Architecture, Policy, Social justice, Music, Technology and society Unraveling the complex histories of Palestinian artwork “My job is to be critical and deep as an art historian, and not as a politician,” says PhD student Nisa Ari. Mon, 22 Oct 2018 23:59:59 -0400 Fatima Husain | MIT News correspondent <p>Before she was a PhD student searching through art history archives around the world, a young Nisa Ari attended museums with her family and tried to discern the histories behind the artwork and artifacts she saw. “It always had the appeal of detective work,” Ari says. Sometimes, when she’d walk into a new gallery, she’d challenge herself to identify artists from paintings at a distance: “That’s a Cézanne, that’s a Picasso, that’s a Léger.”</p> <p>When visiting her father’s family in Istanbul, the Colorado native would sit and sketch on the porch with her grandfather, an artist. Ari’s interests included the performing arts as well. “I was a singer,” Ari says. “That was my life, but I was really academically minded, too. So when it came time to go to college, I applied to music conservatories as well as [universities].” Ari decided to attend Stanford University — with the intention to move to New York City and live as a performer after completing her undergraduate degree.</p> <p>She enrolled in an art history class at Stanford during her first year — a decision which led her to major in art history. Following graduation, Ari spent five years auditioning for roles and performing in musical theater productions around the country. But she had a longing to return to the art world, and worked as an assistant director at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City. “That experience was good — it made me realize that I was not willing to totally commit myself to a life of performing,” Ari says. “There was a moment when I thought, it’s time to do a PhD.”</p> <p>Now, Ari is a doctoral candidate in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program at MIT, and studies the development of arts and crafts in Palestine from 1876 to 1948. Her transition back into academia was “relatively painless,” she says — and she still takes cues from her training as a performer to work though her dissertation. “I like to say I tap dance through grad school — I feel like I use the skills [gained in New York] all the time in what I do now.”</p> <p><strong>Seeking insight </strong></p> <p>Ari was drawn to the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program because of its strength in modern Middle Eastern art history. Her early research was rooted in the 1990s — a period when prominent nonprofits that supported the arts arrived in the Middle East. With guidance from co-advisors Nasser Rabbat, the director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT, and Caroline Jones, a professor of art history, Ari zeroed in on the idea of studying the development of Palestinian art during the 19th and 20th centuries. But it was a challenge: Three other students interested in Palestine had been stymied by a lack of access to artwork, the lack of a record of Palestinian artwork in archives, and the difficulties of working across the politics of the region. But Ari, who studied Arabic at Harvard University while enrolled at MIT and took summer research trips to Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Jordan through MISTI, was determined to follow through.</p> <p>Ari’s fieldwork is “more comparable to that of an anthropologist or sociologist” and involves travel to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, England, and Jordan. She looks through a plethora of documents that record the development of art by artists and social commentators alike: files, letters, photographs, postcards. Not all records are public — Ari often works to track down private collections as well. “There are several private Palestinian [art] collectors who live in Beirut, Lebanon. Those collections are more personal,” Ari says. While most of the artists Ari studies are now deceased, she sometimes comes across their descendants and listens to their stories.</p> <p>“I’m very interested in social relationships and social networks in terms of how they affect artistic production,” Ari says. “For me, the proof is always in the pudding. I always have to be able to still see it in the artwork to understand those relationships.”</p> <p>Between the end of the Ottoman empire in the early 20th century and the close of the British Mandate in 1948, Palestine underwent widespread political and social changes. Ari focuses on notable shifts in the region’s artwork and how art was used, from religious purposes to commercial and political ones. “I’m trying to understand how changes in art happened in Palestine as a result of this major political and social upheaval,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Informing research methods</strong></p> <p>Ari is also well aware of the political and social tensions stemming from the Arab-Israeli conflict in the countries she visits to perform her research. “It’s tough because it’s such an active situation, and people’s lives really are at stake,” Ari says. “There’s a kind of emotional labor involved in that there’s a lot of code switching that I have to do when I’m talking to an Israeli at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem versus when I’m meeting with a Palestinian art collector in Bethlehem. While my project stays the same, my approach has to change.”</p> <p>In some cases, Ari has to meet with curators and archivists multiple times before gaining access to archives: “Understandably, for some there’s a real fear about how you’re going to use the material.”</p> <p>“I’ve found that honesty is the best policy and just to present myself as best I can, because the whole purpose of the project is to preserve nuance where so much of it has been lost because of contemporary politics,” Ari says. “I think it really helps that I did not start from a place of politics for this particular project.”</p> <p>Ari cites her own heritage — her father’s family is orthodox Muslim and her mother’s is orthodox Jewish. “Having some background in both of these religious cultures has helped me to recognize the nuances of the situation. … My job is to be critical and deep as an art historian and not as a politician.”</p> <p>“I remind myself that I’m making a choice to do this every day when I’m crossing the border [between Israel and the Palestinian territories] — other people who are there with me don’t have that choice,” Ari says.</p> <p>Ari has also been co-editor of <em>Thresholds</em>, the MIT architecture department’s peer-reviewed journal; a dissertation fellow with the Mellon Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies; a research fellow with the Palestinian American Research Center; a dissertation fellow at Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan; and the recipient of an international research grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art. She also received the Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Art for a section from her dissertation, which was recently published in <em>Arab Studies Journal</em>.</p> <p>After MIT, Ari hopes to apply for postdoctoral fellowships and teaching positions and turn her dissertation into a book, with the long-term intention of teaching. “I intended to teach from the start,” she says.</p> Nisa Ari is a doctoral candidate in MIT's History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program.Courtesy of Nisa AriHistory, Humanities, Middle East, MISTI, Profile, Students, School of Architecture and Planning, Graduate, postdoctoral, Arts, Architecture, Program in HTC Addressing Africa&#039;s sustainable development Researchers and experts attend African Sustainable Development Conference at MIT. Fri, 19 Oct 2018 14:20:01 -0400 Taylor De Leon | Civil and Environmental Engineering <p>Climate change, a surging population, and increasing demand for food, housing and natural resources present Africa and the world with extraordinary challenges.</p> <p>On Sept. 24, numerous experts from diverse disciplines and areas of the world convened at MIT to discuss sustainable development in Africa. The conference was hosted by the Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique-MIT Research Program (UMRP), a collaboration with the Moroccan university (UM6P) led by MIT faculty director Elfatih A. B. Eltahir, the Breene M. Kerr Professor of Hydrology and Climate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.</p> <p>UMRP, which launched in 2016, is comprised of six projects led by MIT faculty, which are each built around the dissertation research of an MIT graduate student. The UMRP researchers work closely with the faculty and student colleagues from UM6P, who engage in complementary research.</p> <p>The African Sustainability Conference provided a showcase for these projects, featuring presentations from MIT and UM6P faculty, researchers, and international experts on climate and water, sustainable urbanization, precision agriculture, smart chemistry, and industrial optimization for the phosphate industry. Group discussions related to critical challenges and potential opportunities within each area followed each session.</p> <p>Eltahir began the conference by highlighting the significance of Africa in terms of global sustainability, noting that the substantial yet uncertain effects of climate change are already noticeable in agricultural productivity and infrastructure throughout the continent. Projections show that by 2050, Africa’s population will double from 1 billion to 2 billion people, creating an influx of urbanization.</p> <p>“We are forging an honest collaboration between MIT and a like-minded research and education partner in Africa with the mission of advancing sustainability goals, while also helping build UM6P’s institutional capacity to lead by example on the continent,” expressed Eltahir.</p> <p>Eltahir brings his background in hydrology and climate to his own UMRP research project, that focuses on improving water management and agricultural productivity in one of Morocco’s major river basins, the Oum-Er-Rbia watershed.</p> <p>“Climate change is a major challenge for the world, especially concerning Africa. Morocco is a country that suffers from interannual rainfall variability. We are focused on looking for ways to improve management for water resources and availability,” explained Eltahir.</p> <p>Morocco is highly vulnerable to heat waves and low precipitation, and those extremes are expected to intensify due to climate change. Eltahir’s research addresses these issues through a three-level modeling approach geared toward climatology and forecasting, hydrology, and operations in terms of agricultural planning and infrastructure.</p> <p>He hopes the program will continue to grow, allowing for further collaboration between MIT and UM6P, students, and faculty. Furthermore, some of the tools, models, and processes that are being utilized in Morocco and greater Africa, can be applied to other regions around the world who will face similar challenges due to climate change.</p> <p>In addition to Eltahir, the workshop brought together MIT professors John Fernández of the Department of Architecture, Benedetto Marelli of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Paul Barton of the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Christopher Cummins and Yogesh Surendranath of the Department of Chemistry. Including UM6P colleagues, invited international experts, and MIT graduate students, the conference highlighted efforts to implement resilience, adaptability, and sustainability into the future of African cities.</p> <p>John Fernández, director of MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative and professor of architecture, helped launch UMRP with the focus that there is an urgency needed for long-term sustainability, in the areas of society, economy, and climate.</p> <p>Through comprehensive material accounting of the needs of Moroccan cities, Fernández will be developing specific technology and policy recommendations for UM6P, providing the country with a template for long term urban sustainability.</p> <p>“One of our goals is to produce a UMRP urban resource tool that would allow Morocco and greater Africa to access data and reach informed decisions about urban sustainability,” said Fernández. The tool’s engine would be developed in partnership with UM6P and the tool itself would be offered online.</p> <p>The strains of urban population growth, and a predicted threefold increase in urban energy and urban land area globally is a primary motivation of the project. In addition, it is likely that low-income urban areas in Africa will be most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change due to unreliable and limited access to energy sources, water, and shelter.</p> <p>“With climate change, what happens in terms of the vulnerability of lower income segments of urban population, and at what point, with extreme heat, intense precipitation or climate-induced water shortage does urban vulnerability become urban survivability?” Fernández asked.</p> <p><strong>Securing resources for the future</strong></p> <p>In addition to climate concerns, agricultural production concerns were raised as well from both MIT and UM6P experts.</p> <p>Benedetto Marelli, the Paul M Cook Career Development Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, shared that he is focused on developing new technologies that can increase agricultural production. He stated that with a growing population, a 70 percent increase in food production will be necessary by 2050.</p> <p>Marelli is in the process of creating biofertilizers that can work with the plant, to boost germination and overcome environmental stressors such as pests, disease, heat waves, and drought.</p> <p>Manal Mhada, a postdoc from UM6P, presented her research on precision agriculture, and the efficient use of seeds and fertilizers. Her work focuses on human-centered solutions for Moroccan communities, and includes local farmers in her research projects.</p> <p>Mhada conducts close studies of the crop quinoa, with the intention of introducing it to Morocco in order to provide food and nutritional security. She acknowledges that climate change threatens agriculture, food security, and peace, but emphasizes that “big problems allow for immense opportunity.”</p> <p>Resilience became a common thread throughout the conference. Hassan Radoine, director of the School of Architecture and Design at UM6P, urges for a paradigm shift, explaining how most people perceive Africa as poor.</p> <p>“What is resilience? The responsiveness to risk and inventing new solutions. The reconstructing of a community or a place, is resilience,” Radoine said.</p> <p>Echoing this, Remy Sietchiping, UN-Habitat leader of regional and metropolitan planning, outlined the urban agenda of creating smart cities that encompass adaptability and most importantly, resilience.</p> <p>“You cannot buy sustainability,” Randoine said.</p> <p>During the last session of the conference, gears shifted towards the “smart chemistry” projects, which work closely with Moroccan company, OCP, the leading supplier of phosphate rock in the world. Paul M Cook Career Development Assistant Professor Yogeth Surendranath of the MIT Department of Chemistry presented on the natural resource, phosphorous, which is abundant to Morocco.</p> <p>However, the process of creating phosphate products demands an incredible amount of energy. Surendranath’s research is targeted at elucidating the process of electrochemical phosphate reduction in molten salts, in order to lower economic and environmental costs, and advance Morocco in the chemical markets.</p> <p>Henry Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry Christopher Cummins’ project is also working with phosphate, and has successfully created a new method for the synthesis of phosphorous. The method utilizes a “wet process,” which enables the reduction of energy inputs, waste, and overall harm to the environment.</p> <p>Following Cummins, Professor Paul Barton of the Department of Chemistry, discussed his project on optimal industrial symbiosis for the Jorf Lasfar platform, the phosphate mineral processing facility in Morocco. Barton is studying ways to optimize the phosphate resource, to generate returns on investment while also being mindful of energy and water consumption.</p> <p>Throughout the afternoon, goals for the future were at the forefront of everyone’s mind. UMRP aims to continue to conduct impactful research, tackle developmental challenges, and build a strong foundation for UM6P.</p> <p>“This conference provided a wonderful platform for UMRP to showcase their projects, build a community with UM6P and other colleagues, and help the growing institutional commitment of MIT to engage fruitfully in a future of sustainable development for Africa,” said UMRP Executive Director Kurt Sternlof.</p> <p>It was evident that the MIT faculty-led research is results-driven and exhibits a strong vision of a sustainable future. The idea that UMRP research projects develop small solutions to make big impacts, became a recurring element of the conference.</p> <p>“Whether discussing urban metabolism, industrial symbiosis, chemical processing or the hydrological cycle, the common theme of recognizing and optimizing closed loops of resource use — circular economies of production, consumption and renewal — was clear and compelling, and therein beats the heart of sustainability,” Sternlof said.</p> Hassan Radoine, director of the School of Architecture and Design at UM6P, presents at MIT on African urbanization.Photo: Taylor De LeonSpecial events and guest speakers, Sustainability, Agriculture, Africa, Climate change, Civil and environmental engineering, Chemistry, Architecture, Chemical engineering, School of Science, School of Engineering, School of Architecture and Planning, Development Translating research into impact Fourth annual Tata Center Symposium highlights the need to invest in technologies for the developing world from a market-driven perspective. Wed, 17 Oct 2018 12:40:00 -0400 Shivangi Misra | Tata Center for Technology and Design <p>The MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design&nbsp;has funded upwards of 100 projects since its inception,&nbsp;and finds itself at a crucial juncture of identifying market opportunities for some of its advanced-stage projects that require further support in order to be turned into profitable social enterprises.</p> <p>The Tata Center was&nbsp;first established at MIT six years ago&nbsp;by a generous donation provided by one of India’s oldest philanthropic organizations, Tata Trusts. With several advanced-stage projects now in the pipeline, the center’s leadership recognized a need to answer a fundamental question: How can the Tata Center provide further support, and what might&nbsp;that&nbsp;support look like, to research projects that have reached a state of maturity?</p> <p>The center's recently-concluded fourth annual symposium and workshop, a two-day event hosted at the Samberg Conference Center titled “Translating Research into Impact,”&nbsp;aimed to do just that.</p> <p>“This is a preoccupation for us. We’re no longer looking for things to do, we’ve found things to do. And we’ve brought technologies to a point at which they’re ready to go out into the world in the form of helpful products and services,” Tata Center Director Rob Stoner said as he welcomed students, industry partners, faculty, non-governmental organization representatives, and government officials from both India and the U.S. to the conference. “So, our focus has become&nbsp;translation —&nbsp;handing off technologies that may have reached the prototype or demonstration stage at MIT to entrepreneurial firms, government agencies, NGOs —&nbsp;anyone who has the vision and commitment to bring them to scale in India.&nbsp;It takes a focused effort to do that successfully.”</p> <p>Stoner was&nbsp;joined at the conference by Manoj Kumar, head of entrepreneurship and innovations at Tata Trusts and Maurizio Vecchione, the executive vice presdient of&nbsp;Global Good and Research, which is a collaboration between Intellectual Ventures and the Gates Foundation.</p> <p>In his&nbsp;opening keynote address, The Power of Developing World Technology: Reverse Innovation, Vecchione stressed the importance of investing in technologies for the developing world from a market-driven perspective. Focusing on the health care sector, Vecchione emphasized the need to dramatically increase research and development budgets targeted toward finding solutions for diseases like HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis in the developing world. The world’s population, primarily led by developing countries like China, India, Nigeria, and Mexico, is projected to reach 9 billion by 2040.&nbsp;</p> <p>The keynote was followed by a panel on scaling social enterprises with Jessica Alderman, the director of communications for&nbsp;Envirofit International;&nbsp;Alex Eaton, CEO of Sistema Biobolsa and Charity;&nbsp;and Manoj Sinha, CEO of&nbsp;Husk Power Systems. One of the core issues that emerged during the panel was the perceived dichotomy of impact versus profit.</p> <p>“The idea of profit is important. And profit is absolutely tied to impact,” Alderman said.&nbsp;“You will have a short-lived company if you don’t have a solid way of getting to profit.”</p> <p>Symposium attendees were also introduced to new Tata Center startups and multiple advanced-stage projects working on techologies including:</p> <ul> <li>urine-based tuberculosis diagnostics;</li> <li>affordable silicon-based nanofiltration;</li> <li>accessible intraperitoneal chemotherapy devices;</li> <li>intelligence deployment to improve agri-supply chains; and</li> <li>photovoltaic-powered village-scale desalination systems.</li> </ul> <p>The first day came to a close with a&nbsp;fireside chat with Ernest Moniz, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems Emeritus&nbsp;and former U.S.&nbsp;Secretary of Energy, followed by a town hall on funding social innovations with Ann Dewitt, COO of The Engine, Barry Johnson of the National Science Foundation, and Harkesh Kumar Mittal from&nbsp;India’s Department of Science and Technology.</p> <p>On the second day of the conference, Ann Mei Chang, the author of&nbsp;“Lean Impact” and former chief innovation officer at USAID, delivered an inspiring keynote address on the importance of thinking big, starting small, and pursuing impact relentlessly.</p> <p>This second day was dedicated to parallel sectorial workshops on Tata Center’s six focus areas:&nbsp;housing, health, agriculture, energy, environment, and water. Workshop participants included faculty from MIT, the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, Tata Fellows, active Tata Center collaborators,&nbsp;industry representatives, and&nbsp;representatives of some of India’s most influential NGOs.</p> <p>“So many projects end up not leaving the institution because of gaps in our support ecosystem,”&nbsp;Stoner said, drawing the event to a close. “We’re determined at the Tata Center not to let that happen with our projects by filling those gaps.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The MIT Tata Center’s efforts to build connections in the developing world are linked to MIT’s broader campaign to engage with global challenges, and to translate innovative research into entrepreneurial impact. That work continues year-round. The next Tata Center Symposium will be held at MIT on Sept.&nbsp;12&nbsp;and 13, 2019.</p> A panel discusses Scaling Social Enterprises at the fourth annual Tata Center Symposium.Photo: Kelley Travers/MIT Energy InitiativeWater, Health, Environment, Housing, Architecture, MIT Sloan School of Management, Mechanical engineering, Chemical engineering, Collaboration, International development, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E), Developing countries, India, Special events and guest speakers, School of Engineering, MIT Energy Initiative Ana Miljacki: Scholar of designers and dreamers Historian, curator, and designer studies architects and their quest to make a better world. Wed, 05 Sep 2018 23:59:59 -0400 Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office <p>Inside Ana Miljacki’s office in MIT’s Department of Architecture, a sign hangs on the wall bearing a wry message:</p> <p align="center">UTOPIA IS HERE<br /> JUST FOR TODAY</p> <p>By itself, that sign could be a lot of things: an earnest plea to enjoy the moment, an ironic commentary on the futility of seeking perfection, or a wistful nod to the impermanence of everything.</p> <p>In Miljacki’s case, it is all of those, and a reference to architects she has studied and written about. Miljacki is an architectural historian, curator, and designer who has written books on postwar design, co-curated the U.S. pavillion at Venice Biennale, and heads the Master of Architecture program at MIT.</p> <p>Miljacki’s first book was about the hopes and compromises of architects in postwar Czechoslovakia, covering the first three decades of their attempts to develop roles within the larger project of “constructing socialism.” Some of them, such as a group called SIAL from Liberec, made what Miljacki calls “a genuine effort to practice utopia” under the circumstances.</p> <p>In terms of architecture, Miljacki has written, this meant that “utopia was no longer synonymous with the production of fantastical images of a perfect world sometime and somewhere else.” For the designers of SIAL themselves, this meant an “attempt to work out an effective role for architecture and architects within the confines” of a repressive political system.</p> <p>Thus the SIAL architects had dreams but were realists, and the tension between these two things defined their careers.</p> <p>“I have empathy for architects who operated in that context,” Miljacki says. “I don’t try to simplify the story, but I’m not unsympathetic to what they were trying to do, including survive.”</p> <p>Today, in a very different time and place, Miljacki still ponders these ideas when evaluating her own career. &nbsp;</p> <p>“Utopia is never something to strive for as a complete and frozen condition,” Miljacki says. But she is an idealist about the discipline of architecture, and, above all, about teaching it to MIT students. Indeed, Miljacki says, the best way to think about teaching is as a form of utopia.</p> <p>“The classroom is where I practice and cultivate a kind of utopia with my students, in the best possible sense,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Beginning in Belgrade</strong></p> <p>By Miljacki’s account, it is unsurprising that she became a architect. She grew up in Belgrade as the child of two architects who designed “large swaths of housing” for the former Yugoslavia.</p> <p>“For me, architecture seemed an obvious choice,” Miljacki recounts. She went to an architectural high school in Belgrade and was accepted to architectural college in Belgrade, just as the Yugoslavian war was breaking out in the early 1990s. Helped by a family friend, Miljacki spent a year attending high school and applying to colleges in the U.S.</p> <p>“I’d never been to the U.S., but I was always dreaming of big things,” Miljacki says. And she got a full scholarship to Bennington College, the liberal arts college in Vermont.</p> <p>“A liberal arts school as a model didn’t exist in my world,” Miljacki says, “but I suddenly had room to think about philosophy and literature and architecture and set design in the same context.” Moreover, Bennington’s educational philosophy — including no letter grades for students — helped her become a better, more inquisitive student.</p> <p>“Bennington had no grades, and I had been a very good ‘A’ student, so I knew what it took to get good grades,” Miljacki recounts, calling the new model “an important shock to the system.” Instead, she notes, “[w]ith grades irrelevant, we were all left to our own — and our teachers’ — more nuanced judgment about what was relevant. I began working to satisfy my own standards, not somebody else’s, and I think that was really important for me at that moment in time.”</p> <p>Miljacki then got her MA in architecture at Rice University, and entered the PhD program at Harvard University — where she wrote about postwar Czech architects and their struggles to practice and live under socialism as her dissertation.</p> <p>In doing so, Miljacki was, in a distant way, digging into her own past, given her parents’ lives as architects in the former Yugoslavia. Her writing about Czech architects was “informed by my experiences in Serbian context, having watched my parents there. But I didn’t want to be a historian of my backyard.”</p> <p>Miljacki’s academic career then took her to Columbia University, before she was hired on to the MIT faculty. For her research, design projects, and teaching, she was granted tenure in 2017.</p> <p><strong>Next in Venice</strong></p> <p>Miljacki’s own design projects are numerous. She has been principal in the design firm Project_ since 2002, and has designed and curated a long list of exhibitions. The highest-profile of these efforts was the U.S. pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2014, called “OfficeUS” and co-curated by Miljacki, Eva Franch I Gilabert, now director of the Architectural Association school in London, and Ashley Schafer, a professor at Ohio State University.</p> <p>Spurred by the event’s director, famed architect Rem Koolhaas, to dig into architectural history, the U.S. pavilion depicted a modernist office with pamphlets on the wall that themselves presented historical research about the spread of U.S. architecture around the world during a period when the country’s “soft power” expanded globally.</p> <p>“The century has been the ‘American Century,’ so the pavilion had a real responsibility to think about how the U.S. had impacted the world during that century,” Miljacki says. “Our project, OfficeUS, was about starting a conversation. It was the first time the body of American architecture abroad was ever constituted as such.”</p> <p>Miljacki also recently co-edited a book of essays about the architectural profession and issues of authorship, influence, reproduction, and copyright.</p> <p>“[People] are exposed to immense amounts of work, through images,” Miljacki says. “This is unprecedented. And so … there is much more copying in the most superficial of ways, across the board.”</p> <p>Still, beyond research, writing, designing, and curating, Miljacki emphasizes that she always feels at home while teaching.</p> <p>“It’s always been about students first,” Miljacki says. “And the MIT students are amazing. … They are both earnest and sophisticated. They are thoughtful and open to being taught, and they’re good students.” She adds, “The students at MIT have the best time. They are able to go across the spectrum of our discipline groups and faculty, and in the end tailor their particular academic diets to their own interests.”</p> <p>So while life as an architecture student may never be utopian, thanks to people like Miljacki, it is getting closer, day by day.</p> “The classroom is where I practice and cultivate a kind of utopia with my students, in the best possible sense,” says Associate Professor Ana Miljacki.Image: Bryce VickmarkSchool of Architecture and Planning, Architecture, Faculty, Profile, Design, History, Humanities Software tool could help architects design efficient buildings MIT researchers develop inexpensive way to perform full lifecycle analysis of design choices as buildings are being planned. Wed, 05 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office <p>Typically, when architects or engineers design a new building, it’s only at the end of the process — if ever — that a lifecycle analysis of the building’s environmental impact is carried out. And by then, it may be too late to make significant changes. Now, a faster and easier system for doing such analyses could change all that, making the analysis an integral part of the design process from the beginning.</p> <p>The new process, described in the journal <em>Building and Environment</em> in a paper by MIT researchers Jeremy Gregory, Franz-Josef Ulm and Randolph Kirchain, and recent graduate Joshua Hester PhD ’18, is simple enough that it could be integrated into the software already used by building designers so that it becomes a seamless addition to their design process.</p> <p>Lifecycle analysis, known as LCA, is a process of examining all the materials; design elements; location and orientation; heating, cooling, and other energy systems; and expected ultimate disposal of a building, in terms of costs, environmental impacts, or both. Ulm, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub (CSH), says that typically LCA is applied “only when a building is fully designed, so it is rather a post-mortem tool but not an actual design tool.” That’s what the team set out to correct.</p> <p>“We wanted to address how to bridge that gap between using LCA at the end of the process and getting architects and engineers to use it as a design tool,” he says. The big question was whether it would be possible to incorporate LCA evaluations into the design process without having it impose too many restrictions on the design choices, thus making it unappealing to the building designers. Ulm wondered, “How much does the LCA restrict the flexibility of the design?”</p> <p><strong>Measuring freedom of design</strong></p> <p>To address that question systematically, the team had to come up with a process of measuring the flexibility of design choices in a quantitative way. They settled on a measure they call “entropy,” analogous to the use of that term in physics. In physics, a system with greater entropy is “hotter,” with its molecules moving around rapidly. In the team’s use of the term, higher entropy represents a greater variety of available choices at a given point, while lower entropy represents a more restricted range of choices.</p> <p>To the researchers’ surprise, they found use of their LCA system had very little impact on reducing the range of design choices. “That’s the most remarkable result,” Ulm says. When introducing the LCA into the early stages of the design process, “you barely touch the design flexibility,” he says. “I was convinced we would come to a compromise,” where design flexibility would have to be limited in order to gain better lifecycle performance, Ulm says. “But in fact, the results proved me wrong.”</p> <p>The system looks at the full range of climate impacts from a new structure, including all three phases: construction, including examining the embodied energy in all the materials used in the building; operation of the building, including all of the energy sources needed to provide heating, cooling, and electrical service; and the final dismantling and disposal, or repurposing of the structure, at the end of its service.</p> <p>To evaluate the lifecycle impact of design choices requires looking at a wide range of factors. These include: the location’s climate (for their research, they chose Arizona and New England as two very different cases of U.S. climate); the building’s dimensions and orientation; the ratio of walls to windows on each side; the materials used for walls, foundations, and roofing; the type of heating and cooling systems used; and so on. As each of these factors gets decided, the range of possibilities for the building get narrower and narrower — but not much more so than in any conventional design process.</p> <p>At any point, the program “would also provide information about a lot of the things that are not yet defined,” essentially offering a menu of choices that could lead to a more environmentally friendly design, says Kirchain, who is a principal research scientist at MIT and co-director of the CSH, which supported the project.</p> <p>While designed particularly for reducing the climate impact of a building, the same tool could also be used to optimize a building for other criteria, such as simply to minimize cost, the researchers say.</p> <p><strong>Getting in early</strong></p> <p>Thinking about issues such as the ultimate fate of a building at the end of its functional life tends to be “not in the same order of interest for the designing architect, when they first work on a design,” compared to more immediate factors such as how the building will look to the client, and meeting any particular functional requirements for the structure, Ulm says. But if the new LCA tools are integrated right into the design software they are using, then indications of how a given design choice can affect the outcome would be constantly available and able to easily influence choices even in small, subtle ways early in the process.</p> <p>By comparing the design process with and without the use of such tools, the researchers found that the overall greenhouse gas emissions associated with a building could be reduced by 75 percent “without a reduction in the flexibility of the design process,” Ulm says.</p> <p>Ulm compares it to indicators in a gym that provide feedback on how many calories are being burned at any point in an exercise regime, providing a constant incentive to improve results — without ever prescribing what exercises the person should do or how to do them.</p> <p>While the program is currently designed to evaluate relatively simple single-family homes — which represent the vast majority of living spaces in the U.S. — the team hopes to expand it to be able to work on much bigger residential or commercial buildings as well.</p> <p>At this point, the software the team designed is a standalone package, so “one of our tasks going forward is to actually transition to making it a plug-in to some of the software tools that are out there” for architectural design, says Kirchain.</p> <p>While there are many software tools available to help with evaluating a building’s environmental impact, Kirchain says, “we don’t see a lot of architects using these tools.” But that’s partly because these tend to be too prescriptive, he says, pointing toward an optimal design and constricting the designer’s choices. “Our theory is that any designer doesn’t want to be told that this is how the design must be. Their role is to design without undue constraints,” he says.</p> Fengdi Guo, a graduate student in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is shown here working on the project.Image: Randy KirchainResearch, School of Engineering, Civil and environmental engineering, Concrete, Materials Research Laboratory, Architecture, Urban studies and planning, Sustainability, Design, Emissions, Climate change, Energy Students welcomed back to renovated New House as semester begins Redesigned building connects living groups with improved accessibility. Mon, 03 Sep 2018 09:03:00 -0400 Cooper Toulmin | MIT Facilities <p>Approximately 290 students recently moved into their newly renovated home, thanks to a concerted team effort to complete the reconstruction of New House in time for the start of the fall semester. The 14-month construction project followed months of planning in which the architects, student residents, and staff from the Division of Student Life (DSL) and Campus Construction worked together to envision the future needs of the community. The result — a residence with improved connectivity between houses, new amenities (including cluster kitchens and quiet lounges in each house), enhanced accessibility, green roofs, and revitalized courtyards.</p> <p>“Renovating a residence hall is a tall order at any time,” said Suzy Nelson, vice president and dean for student life. “Everyone involved — students, faculty, staff, and the architects and project managers — did a fantastic job of balancing the desires of residents with the needs of an up-to-date residence hall and MIT’s expectations for the future. And to get that all done in a year is truly extraordinary.”</p> <p>The decision to renovate the more than 40-year-old, 115,000 square-foot residence was based on results of a 2016 feasibility study conducted by the Office of Campus Planning and the MIT Capital Projects group.</p> <p>“While this project has helped drive down our deferred maintenance, what it has really done is demonstrate our desire to enhance the living and learning environment for our students for the 21st century, and work with each community to develop how each building can better support their needs,” says David Friedrich, senior director of housing operations and renewal planning.</p> <p><strong>Flexible design features focus on community</strong></p> <p>Constructed in 1975, New House is home to a community that encompasses nine living groups, including the cultural groups Chocolate City, French House, German House, iHouse, and Spanish House. The primary goals of the renovation included retaining the 288-bed count in New House, which was achieved, and preserving the nine communities while enhancing the connections among the houses. A 275-foot corridor now runs the entire length of the building, enabling residents to easily and accessibly move between communities on every level. The new design’s flexibility lets the communities’ populations change and allows for adaptability in assigning rooms to residents.</p> <p>Goody Clancy led the redesign effort, collaborating with students and student life staff to understand residents’ needs. Using <a href="" target="_blank">MIT’s Architectural Principles</a>, the teams envisioned the ground-floor arcade as the heart of the building with shared features such as a large community-shared country kitchen and an expanded multi-purpose room, makerspace, laundry, and fitness room located along its path. Placement of these features next to the house lounge on the arcade level enables those spaces to spill out onto the adjacent courtyards, providing an open, communal space encouraging creative connections among students.</p> <p>In addition, large windows in the arcade level bring in views of the Charles River and allow more daylight. “Taking down the large wall that was in place on the north side of the arcade has opened up a north-south view through the ground floor, bringing the outside in,” says Goody Clancy Associate Amanda Sanders.</p> <p>Some of New House’s added construction features and improvements include:</p> <ul> <li>a first-floor arcade that includes a house lounge, game room, the shared country kitchen, expanded makerspace, multi-purpose room, laundry room, fitness room, and music room;</li> <li>a new roof, along with six green roofs facing Memorial Drive that absorb water and reduce water waste;</li> <li>new energy-efficient windows throughout the building;</li> <li>connecting corridors on the upper floors with two new elevators providing accessibility;</li> <li>accessible student rooms and bathrooms in each community;</li> <li>revitalized courtyards providing social space for occupants; and</li> <li>a new covered 150-bike storage enclosure.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Creative work phasing minimized student relocations</strong></p> <p>One of the challenges to this whole-building renovation was managing the construction in phases to ensure that a number of New House residents could continue to live in the building for the 2017-18 academic year. By staging the work in phases and maintaining one unoccupied house as a buffer against construction noise, 100 residents continued to live in the building. This creative approach, managed and coordinated by Suffolk Construction Company, minimized the need for students to relocate.</p> <p>“The students who lived in New House during construction were an integral part of the success of this project,” says Kevin Carr, project manager for Campus Construction. “We hosted a welcome back pizza party and a building tour when the students returned in January after phase one was complete, and the positive feedback was overwhelming, and it really touched us in a special way.”</p> <p><strong>Community engagement laid foundation for redesign</strong></p> <p>As with many projects on campus, the community engagement between student residents, student life staff, and the construction and design teams regarding the design and direction of New House was critical to the successful completion of the project. The presidents of each of the houses were involved throughout and contributed ideas and opinions right down to color schemes and furniture options.</p> <p>“In my 17 years as head of house for New House, I saw how the students lived, worked, and connected with one another,” says Wesley Harris, the Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “The freshness and openness that this renovation breathes will be most welcomed by our students, and the new east-west horizontal integration will be a substantial improvement in the quality of life. I also commend all who were involved in this project, including the administration, students, architect, and construction team who did a wonderful job.”</p> <p>Paul Murphy, program manager for&nbsp;Special Projects, says&nbsp;“this was one of the bigger renovation projects within the past two years for MIT, and it’s a real testament to teamwork and collaboration that it went off without any major hitches and completed on time for students to move back in for the fall semester.”</p> <p>“When we walk through it now and see students smiling — it’s why we do what we do,” Murphy says.</p> New energy-efficient windows have been installed throughout the New House building, along with a new roof. Six terraces facing Memorial Drive have been transformed into green roofs that absorb water and reduce water waste.Photo: Robert Benson Photography, courtesy of Goody ClancyFacilities, Student life, Campus buildings and architecture, Architecture, Chancellor, Residential life, Community John de Monchaux, former dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, dies at 81 Architect and planner remembered as a man who brought people together through a combination of wisdom, optimism, and charm. Fri, 31 Aug 2018 09:40:00 -0400 Ken Shulman | School of Architecture and Planning <p>Jean Pierre de Monchaux, an idealistic and optimistic planner and architect who served as dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning from 1981 to 1992, passed away on April 30, after living with Parkinson’s disease for 20 years. He was 81.</p> <p>De Monchaux, also known as John, came to MIT after many years’ professional experience in the United States, the United Kingdom, South America, Australia, and Southeast Asia. His international upbringing in Dublin, Montréal, New York City, Bogotá, Sydney, and London produced lasting memories of life onboard the ocean liners and tramp steamers that ferried him between these places as a boy and young man.&nbsp;</p> <p>His diverse background informed his vision of urban planning as a conciliatory practice of listening and learning between constituencies and professionals. He understood all of the world’s cities as neighborhoods of a single global village — as shared places of possibility, and of messy meaning, that transcended false notions of order and border.</p> <p>“John’s legacy is all around us,” says Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning. “His influence is reflected every day through our classes and research, in our passion to serve the world, and in the thoughtful, caring, and supportive community that is a hallmark of SA+P.”</p> <p>As dean, de Monchaux was known for his ability to nurture dialogue, to forge consensus, and to build bridges between SA+P and other schools at the Institute. He achieved major milestones in the school’s history, including the completion of the award-winning Rotch Library extension in Building 7,&nbsp;the establishment of the Center for Real Estate (the first program of its kind in the United States),&nbsp;and the opening —&nbsp;in the&nbsp;newly-designed I.M. Pei building — of&nbsp;the Media Lab, an&nbsp;endeavor that de Monchaux was proud to have named after many wordier and narrower possibilities were considered.</p> <p>After stepping down as dean in 1992, de Monchaux took a four-year partial leave from MIT to serve as general manager of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, a Geneva-based foundation concerned with architecture and urban design as a catalyst for cultural and social development in the Muslim world.</p> <p>In 1996, he returned to MIT and spent the next dozen years teaching in two departments: Urban Studies and Planning&nbsp;and Architecture. From 1996 until 2004, he served as head of the Special Program in Urban Regional Studies (SPURS), a one-year program designed for mid-career professionals from developing countries.</p> <p>“He helped many of us, faculty and students alike,&nbsp;to design better cities,” says DUSP department head Eran Ben-Joseph, who worked with de Monchaux in the department. “He was a true friend, mentor, and colleague — a person of genuine integrity, great wisdom, and a gentle soul who will be sorely missed.”</p> <p>De Monchaux was also a dedicated presence in the Boston design community, serving on the boards of the Boston Society of Architects and the Boston Architectural College, and founding the Boston Civic Design Commission as well as serving as its first chair. He was a trustee of the Boston Foundation for Architecture, and a trustee and overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.</p> <p>Born in Dublin, Ireland, to a French-Australian family, de Monchaux was educated at St John’s College of the University of Sydney in Australia, and at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where later, in 1971, he would become a member of that school’s second class of Loeb Fellows. He began his teaching career at the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College, London, in 1964, the beginning of what would become a long collaboration with then-professor Lord Richard Llewellyn-Davies.</p> <p>De Monchaux had been admitted to MIT’s bachelor’s in architecture program in 1954 from Stuyvesant High School in New York City, but was unable to afford the tuition and enroll as a student. He returned to MIT in 1981 with a particular dedication to opening the Institute’s doors ever wider.</p> <p>With his wife, British sociologist Suzanne de Monchaux, as part of the design team, he was principal planner for Milton Keynes, a new city in Buckinghamshire, England, that was conceived in the late 1960s as the crowning achievement of Great Britain’s utopian postwar New Towns Movement. In more than two decades of practice as a planner, primarily with global planning partnership Llewellyn Davies and its successor firms, he played a leading role in advocacy design assistance in Watts, Detroit, and Chicago. He also participated in urban plans and environmental impact studies throughout Australia, China, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, with a particular interest in the developing world, vernacular typologies, and informal urbanisms.</p> <p>De Monchaux is survived by his twin sons: Nicholas de Monchaux, an associate professor of architecture and urban design at the University of California at Berkeley&nbsp;and a founding partner of the interdisciplinary architecture firm modem; and Thomas de Monchaux, an author, designer, and adjunct assistant professor of architecture at Columbia University.</p> <p>For a story published in 2007 in <em>PLAN</em> on the occasion of de Monchaux’s nominal retirement from teaching, Lois Craig, who served as associate dean, recalled, “He had a method of getting agreement from people, forming friendships and professional alliances that supported his policies.&nbsp;He created a sense of functional togetherness.&nbsp;He was a conciliator and an enabler, bringing people together.”</p> <p>In that same article, Professor Julian Beinart, who co-taught many urban design studios with de Monchaux, reflected on his colleague’s studio technique: “John always took the epistemologically cool position: Let’s think about your proposition, let’s untie the knots of your argument, to the extent we can, let’s see if we can reframe some of the parts, let’s see where that takes us.”</p> <p>A memorial service will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept.&nbsp;29, in the MIT Chapel.&nbsp;</p> As dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, John de Monchaux understood all of the world’s cities as neighborhoods of a single global village.Image courtesy of the School of Architecture and PlanningObituaries, School of Architecture and Planning, Urban studies and planning, Faculty, Architecture, Center for Real Estate, Media Lab MIT team digitizes historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu What if we could immerse ourselves in this UNESCO World Heritage Site through virtual reality or use augmented reality to interact with its 3-D site map? Tue, 28 Aug 2018 15:00:00 -0400 Eduardo Rivera | Lily Keyes | MISTI <p>For many&nbsp;people, the Inca city of Machu Picchu in the Andes of Peru is one of the most recognizable icons of archaeological and adventure tourism in the world. However, for the Peruvian people and for the international scientific community, Machu Picchu is much more than a tourist destination. In addition to being a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, the historic sanctuary has great cultural and economic importance for Peru and the region of Cusco.</p> <p>The first references to&nbsp;attempts to document the city of Machu Picchu date back to the late 19th century, when Peruvian and European explorers toured the rugged mountains around the meandering Urubamba River. Some of the explorers did not hesitate to register their visit in the rock. On a wall of the Temple of the Three Windows, Agustin Lizarraga recorded, "July 14, 1902".</p> <p>But it was Yale University Professor Hiram Bingham who extensively documented the site during his expedition in 1911, and made known to the international community the existence of the lost ruins of the Incas. Over&nbsp;the last 100 years, dozens of archaeological expeditions have contributed to increasing the architectural value and interest in the site, as well as the scientific knowledge of the extraordinary technologies developed by the Incas.</p> <p>In order to digitally document and develop the foundations for future research, a laboratory team from the MIT Department of Architecture, led by Professor Takehiko Nagakura and PhD student Paloma Gonzalez, has been working on the MISTI Global Seed Fund Machu Picchu Design Heritage project&nbsp;since 2016.</p> <p>The team, the Architecture Representation and Computation Group, has led the first extensive expedition to digitally document Machu Picchu, using the latest generation of instruments and techniques to explore the site’s architectural and urban importance&nbsp; and develop a 3-D site map using&nbsp;virtual reality and augmented reality. The Architecture Representation and Computation Group has an important record of working with digital capturing technologies on World Heritage Sites in Italy, China, Singapore, and Japan.</p> <p>"We believe that documentation through computational techniques for the digitalization of architectural monuments is key to the preservation of the cultural heritage of humanity," Nagakura says.&nbsp;“But it is just a simple idea for old practice. From Renaissance time, architects have been going to building sites, and drawing them up to study them. We are just replacing tape measures and Mylar sheets with scanning tools and VR headsets.”</p> <p>For the project in Peru, the team visited the archaeological complex on two occasions for several weeks in mid-2017 and early 2018. At the site, more than 9,000 images were collected through panoramic cameras, photogrammetric scanning tools, and drones. Gonzalez says the working hours were “intense.”</p> <p>“We had to reach the archaeological monument before the arrival of the tourists and stay after the closure of the monument," she&nbsp;says.&nbsp;“The great commitment and joint work of the MIT team and the San Antonio Abad del Cusco University, supported by the Decentralized Directorate of Culture of Cusco, made the work fruitful and rewarding.”</p> <p>Based on the photogrammetric data they sampled, the team&nbsp;developed 3-D models and are working on creating virtual reality experiences that would allow people to immerse themselves in Machu Picchu from anywhere on the planet. The same 3-D models are also being deployed to make a new interactive map of Machu Picchu that superimposes the photographic 3-D view of the site through augmented reality.</p> <p>Last December, the team launched the <a href=";proj_id=31">MIT Design Heritage Platform</a>, where visitors&nbsp;can see and explore part of the work they have done. In addition, they plan to make this platform a tool to collect images from those who can contribute to the data bank through crowdsourcing.</p> <p>The project has also managed to document the architectural characteristics and construction materials of the city with high-resolution photographic techniques. The&nbsp;images constitute a unique database with rich information on aspects such as landscape and vegetation at the time the photographs were taken. The team will make all of the information collected available to the authorities of the archaeological monument.</p> <p>At the same time, they expect that other disciplines can use the databases and photogrammetric models they are developing. The documentation has already been used in conservation efforts, including in the reconstruction of Wiñay Wayna, an archeological site located on the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu that was destroyed by a recent flood storm.</p> <p>Fernando Astete, anthropologist and head of the National Archaeological Park of Machu Picchu, says:&nbsp;"We are very excited with the MIT team work. We welcome all efforts to research and preserve Machu Picchu. We have to protect our heritage for the next generations.”</p> <p>Architect Cesar Medina, responsible for the digitization of the national park, believes that the collaboration with MIT has been enriching.</p> <p>“We have been working in 3-D documentation since 2013, but the collaboration with the MIT team lead by Professor Nagakura, with the support of our local university, has allowed us to exhaustively document Machu Picchu, making use of the latest technologies and innovative techniques,” Medina says. “Moreover, we have had the opportunity to visit and know the work of his lab; we see with great interest to continue working in the future with MIT.”</p> <p>The Architecture Representation and Computation Group is already in conversation with institutions of higher education and heritage conservation of Peru to continue advancing the project of digital inheritance. In addition to continuing in Machu Picchu, they may extend the documentation areas to other archaeological sites of Peru. The project has also opened the doors to possible interdisciplinary collaborations with materials science researchers, urban planners, hydrologist, engineers, archaeologists, and historians.</p> <p>The MIT students and research assistants who participated in this project were: Diego Cornejo, Paloma Gonzalez, Takuro Kikuchi, Woong Ki Sung, Chang Liu, Eytan Mann, Wenzhe Peng, Rachelle Villalon, Nikolaos Vlavianos, Xu Zhang.</p> <p>The Machu Picchu Design Heritage project was made possible thanks to the MISTI Global Seed Funds. MISTI is a part of the Center for International Studies within the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS). The project was also sponsored by the Council of Science, Technology and Technological Innovation&nbsp;of Peru, with the support of the National University of Saint Anthony the Abbot in Cuzco and the Decentralized Directorate of Culture of Cusco.</p> Left to right: Paloma Gonzalez, Associate Professor Takehiko Nagakura, Chang Liu, and Wenzhe Peng pose with a panoramic view of Machu Picchu in Peru. They are part of an MIT team that has worked to digitally document the site.Photo courtesy of MISTIArchitecture, History, Research, 3-D, Latin America, Augmented and virtual reality, School of Architecture and Planning, MISTI, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences Mass timber: Thinking big about sustainable construction MIT class designs a prototype building to demonstrate that even huge buildings can be built primarily with wood. Mon, 06 Aug 2018 23:59:59 -0400 David L. Chandler | MIT News Office <p>The construction and operation of all kinds of buildings uses vast amounts of energy and natural resources. Researchers around the world have therefore been seeking ways to make buildings more efficient and less dependent on emissions-intensive materials.</p> <p>Now, a project developed through an MIT class has come up with a highly energy-efficient design for a large community building that uses one of the world’s oldest construction materials. For this structure, called “the Longhouse,” massive timbers made of conventional lumber would be laminated together like a kind of supersized plywood.</p> <p>The design will be presented this October at the Maine Mass Timber Conference, which is dedicated to exploring new uses of this material, which can be used to build safe, sound high-rise buildings, if building codes permit them.</p> <p>John Klein, a research scientist in MIT’s architecture department who taught a workshop called Mass Timber Design that came up with the new design, explains that “in North America, we have an abundance of forest resources, and a lot of it is overgrown. There’s an effort to find ways to use forest products sustainably, and the forests are actively undergoing thinning processes to prevent forest fires and beetle infestations.”</p> <div class="cms-placeholder-content-video"></div> <p>People tend to think of wood as a suitable material for structures just a few stories high, but not for larger structures, Klein says. But already some builders are beginning to use mass timber products (a term that basically applies to any wood products much larger than conventional lumber) for bigger structures, including medium-rise buildings of up to 20 stories. Even taller buildings should ultimately be practical with this technology, he says. One of the largest mass timber buildings in the U.S. is the new 82,000-square-foot John W. Olver Design Building at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.</p> <p>One of the first questions people raise when they hear of such construction has to do with fire. Can such tall wooden structures really be safe? In fact, Klein says, tests have demonstrated that mass timber structures can resist fire as well or better than steel. That’s because wood exposed to fire naturally produces a layer of char, which is highly insulating and can protect the bulk of the wood for more than two hours. Steel, in contrast, can fail suddenly when heat softens it and causes it to buckle.</p> <p>Klein explains that this natural fire resistance makes sense when you think about dropping a lit match onto a pile of wood shavings, versus dropping it onto a log. The shavings will burst into flames, but on the log a match will simply sputter out. The greater the bulk of the wood, the better it resists ignition.</p> <p>The structure designed by the class uses massive beams made from layers of wood veneers laminated together, a process known as laminated veneer lumber (LVL), made into panels 50 feet long, 10 feet wide, and more than 6 inches thick These are cut to size and used to make a series of large arches, 40 feet tall to the central peak and spanning 50 feet across, made of sections with a triangular cross-section to add structural strength. A series of these arches is assembled to create a large enclosed space with no need for internal structural supports. The pleated design of the roof is designed to accommodate solar panels and windows for natural lighting and passive solar heating.</p> <p>“The structural depth achieved by building up the triangular section helps us achieve the clear span desired for the communal space, all while lending a visual language on both the interior and the exterior of the structure,” says Demi Fang, an MIT architecture graduate student who was part of the design team. “Each arch tapers and widens along its length, because not every point along the arch will be subject to the same magnitude of forces, and this varying cross-section depth both expresses structural performance while encouraging materials savings,” she says.</p> <p>The arches would be factory-built in sections, and then bolted together on site to make the complete building. Because the building would be largely prefabricated, the actual on-site construction process would be greatly streamlined, Klein says.</p> <p>“The Longhouse is a multifunctional building, designed to accommodate a range of event scenarios from co-working, exercise classes, social mixers, exhibitions, dinner gatherings and lectures,” Klein says, adding that it builds on a long tradition of such communal structures in cultures around the world. &nbsp;</p> <p>Whereas the production of concrete, used in most of the world’s large buildings, involves large releases of greenhouse gases from the baking of limestone, construction using mass timber has the opposite effect, Klein says. While concrete adds to the world’s burden of greenhouse gases, timber actually lessens it, because the carbon removed from the air while trees grow is essentially sequestered for as long as the building lasts. “The building is a carbon sink,” he says.</p> <p>One obstacle to greater use of mass timber for large structures is in current U.S. building codes, Klein says, which limit the use of structural wood to residential buildings up to five stories, or commercial buildings up to six stories. But recent construction of much taller timber buildings in Europe, Australia, and Canada — including an 18-story timber building in British Columbia — should help to establish such buildings’ safety and lead to the needed code changes, he says.</p> <p>Steve Marshall, an assistant director of cooperative forestry with the U.S. Forest Service, who was not involved in this project, says “Longhouse is a wonderfully creative and beautifully executed example of the design potential for mass timber.” He adds that “mass timber is poised to become a significant part of how America builds. The sustainability implications for the places we live, work, and play are huge. In addition to the well-known ramifications such as the sequestration of carbon within the buildings, there are also community benefits such as dramatically reduced truck traffic during the construction process.”</p> <p>The Longhouse design was developed by a cross-disciplinary team in 4.S13 (Mass Timber Design), a design workshop in MIT’s architecture department that explores the future of sustainable buildings. The team included John Fechtel, Paul Short, Demi Fang, Andrew Brose, Hyerin Lee, and Alexandre Beaudouin-Mackay. It was supported by the Department of Architecture, BuroHappold Engineering and Nova Concepts.</p> View of the Longhouse Northwest ElevationImage: MIT Mass Timber DesignResearch, Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Classes and programs, Sustainability, Emissions, Cities, Energy J. Meejin Yoon named dean of Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning Tue, 24 Jul 2018 10:00:00 -0400 School of Architecture and Planning <p>J. Meejin Yoon, professor and head of the Department of Architecture at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, has been appointed the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of the <a href="" target="_blank">College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University</a>. She will <a href="" target="_blank">take up this new position</a> on January 1, 2019. Andrew Scott, professor of architecture and urbanism, currently associate head of the department, has agreed serve as interim head starting August 15.</p> <p>An architect, designer, and educator, Yoon joined the MIT faculty as assistant professor in 2001 and became department head in 2014. She is founding principal, with Eric Höweler, of <a href="" target="_blank">Höweler + Yoon</a> Architecture, a multidisciplinary architecture and design studio that has garnered international recognition for a wide range of built work.</p> <p>Yoon’s designs have embraced technologies at multiple scales, from interactive wearables and landscapes to robotic fabrication of stone structures. Her pioneering interactive installation project for the Athens Olympics, White Noise White Light, was reinstalled on MIT’s campus for MIT President Susan Hockfield’s inauguration in 2005.</p> <p>Eleven years later, Yoon was asked to design the Sean Collier Memorial at MIT to honor MIT police officer Sean Collier, killed in the line of duty. The memorial is an open vaulted stone structure at the corner of Vassar and Main Streets.</p> <p>Among her current design projects are the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia, the future MIT Museum in Kendall Square, planned to open in 2020, and a 20-story multifamily residential tower in downtown Boston.</p> <p>“Beyond her excellence and renown as a designer, educator, and administrator, Meejin brings rigor and dedication to everything she touches,” says Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. “Cornell is lucky to have her, to have her back, as we have been for the past 17 years. We will watch Cornell under her leadership with anticipation and with admiration.”</p> <p>While leading the department, Yoon’s accomplishments included the establishment of a design minor open to all MIT undergraduates; the relaunch of the bachelor of science in art and design; and an increase in cross-disciplinary studios within the graduate program. In 2013, she received the Irwin Sizer Award for the Most Significant Improvement to MIT Education. Her popular course&nbsp;4.110 / MAS.650 (<a href="" target="_blank">Design Across Scales and Disciplines</a>), co-taught with Neri Oxman, explores the relationships among science, technology, and design.</p> <p>Yoon received a bachelor of architecture degree from Cornell and a master’s in architecture in urban design from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She traveled to Korea under a Fulbright Fellowship after completing her studies.</p> <p>Her design work, often operating at the intersection of architecture, technology, and public space, has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, and the National Art Center in Japan.</p> <p>She is the author of “Expanded Practice: Projects by Höweler + Yoon and MY Studio” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009); “Public Works: Unsolicited Small Projects for the Big Dig” (MAP Book Publishers, 2008); and “Absence,” a World Trade Center Memorial artist book (Printed Matter and the Whitney Museum of Art, 2003).</p> <p>Yoon’s research, teaching, and design work has been widely recognized for innovation and interdisciplinary reach, with honors including the 2016 ACADIA Teaching Award, the 2015 New Generation Design Leadership Award from Architectural Record, the Audi Urban Futures Award in 2012, the United States Artist Award in Architecture and Design in 2008, Architectural Record’s Design Vanguard Award in 2007, the Architecture League’s Emerging Voices Award in 2007, and the Rome Prize in Design in 2005.</p> <p>“MIT’s ethos and commitment to applied knowledge for a better world has had a profound impact on me as an educator and as a designer,” says Yoon. “Design is an instrument for imagining and implementing change — social, cultural, technological, and environmental. During my time at MIT, it has been a privilege to work with such exceptional students and colleagues with these shared values. I look forward to the new challenges ahead and to advancing the principles I have learned here.”</p> J. Meejin YoonPhoto: Andy RyanFaculty, Architecture, Arts, Design, School of Architecture and Planning A solution for urban storm flooding Engineered green spaces can capture and purify stormwater while delivering ecosystem and recreational benefits, MIT researchers report. Thu, 12 Jul 2018 23:59:59 -0400 Greta Friar | Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab <p>Flooding, on the rise due to climate change, can devastate urban areas and result in drawn-out, costly repairs. Cities are in dire need of new strategies to manage the influx of stormwater. An interdisciplinary team of engineers and urban planners at MIT has now developed a solution: multifunctional urban stormwater wetlands and ponds that seamlessly integrate the control and cleaning of stormwater with ecological and recreational benefits.</p> <p>Stormwater flooding in cities is exacerbated by urban infrastructure, as many of the natural ecosystems that would absorb rainfall have been replaced with pavement, which greatly limits an area’s infiltration capacity. This keeps stormwater on the surface, where it picks up all kinds of pollutants — trash, heavy metals, industrial chemicals — that are eventually carried into nearby bodies of water, often including the local water supply.</p> <p>Many cities do not have adequate systems in place to handle stormwater runoff, the largest single cause of stream impairment in urban areas. Stormwater treatment plants are large investments that need to be integrated into existing drainage and water treatment systems. Without spaces or processes that can sequester and purify contaminated water before it reenters circulation or the natural environment, urban centers lose fresh water that could be available for drinking and groundwater recharge, among other ecosystem needs.</p> <p>Natural stormwater management systems — engineered green spaces — are becoming more popular options for cities, in part due to their affordability. The MIT team’s wetlands have been designed to be much more effective than existing designs, such as simple basins and serpentines, at controlling water circulation and purifying stormwater, while also delivering ecosystem and recreational benefits.</p> <p>The MIT team has released the details of their study in a freely available report, "<a href="" target="_blank">Design Guidelines for Urban Stormwater Wetlands</a>," in the hope that cities will adopt this approach. The report is based on two years of research funded by a <a href="">seed grant</a> from MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) and further supported by the MIT Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism (LCAU) in MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. These guidelines are based on physical experiments undertaken in the MIT Nepf Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab and <a href="" target="_blank">recently published</a> in the journal <em>Ecological Engineering</em>.</p> <p>“The goal of our study is to help cities mitigate their own problems in the face of rapidly changing climates, large storms, and a lack of economically feasible solutions,” says co-author Alan M. Berger, the Norman B. and Muriel Leventhal Professor of Advanced Urbanism and LCAU co-director. Berger and his co-authors welcome interested city representatives to reach out to them to discuss how to implement their designs. In May, the group conducted an outreach campaign to ensure that these open-sourced designs reach urban stakeholders such as government officials and regional planners across the U.S.</p> <p>The guidelines combine engineering, urban planning, and landscape architecture expertise to design a versatile green space. On top of managing stormwater, the wetland or pond creates greenery for the city, recreational space for the community, and valuable wildlife habitats.</p> <p>The designs, which feature a series of clustered islands, are modular and scalable, so they can be tailored to fit the needs and resources of varying urban settings. The work was developed with two specific case studies, Houston and Los Angeles, to help ensure the adaptability of the guidelines to different localities.</p> <p>“We picked L.A. and Houston because they are both large cities in warm climates, rapidly growing, mostly suburban, with good prospects for green space,” says lead researcher and lead author Celina Balderas Guzmán ’07, MCP ’13, SM ’13. “Moreover, one is very dry and one is very wet. We wanted to show our design’s adaptability to different conditions.” Balderas Guzmán, then an LCAU member and now at the University of California at Berkeley, is an alum of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, where she developed a master's thesis on stormwater wetlands that eventually led to this collaborative, interdisciplinary project.</p> <p>The guidelines have yet to be used in practice. However the team is currently in contact with city leaders in several locations about the prospect of building a pilot wetland systems. Unaffiliated members of the research community speak positively about the merit of the guidelines. &nbsp;</p> <p>“As far as I know, there is nothing available to the practitioner community that translates research findings from engineers and landscape architects into reality so cleanly,” says David L. Sedlak, professor of environmental engineering at UC Berkeley and co-director of the Berkeley Water Center.</p> <p>To develop the guidelines, researchers in the Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab led by Heidi Nepf, the MIT Donald and Martha Harleman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, tested more than 30 different wetland system designs. They monitored water circulation through sculpted models to determine which topography was most effective in slowing down the stormwater and evenly distributing its flow, in order to best enable the natural processes that cleanse the water of pollutants. This comprehensive testing strategy led to designs based on clusters of streamlined islands placed close together near the wetland inlets.</p> <p>Controlling the water’s movement so it lingers in the wetland is crucial to give the ecosystem time to improve water quality. Wetlands purify water through a combination of biological and chemical processes, including giving contaminants time to settle out of the water. Wetland vegetation is another good filter, as plant surfaces and the biofilms they support are very effective at capturing pollutants and excess nutrients.</p> <p>Determining the most effective design for stormwater treatment was a key aspect of the project, but the team emphasizes that the value of their wetland system is more than its water management functionality. Collaboration between engineers and urban planners led to a design that maximized efficiency without sacrificing aesthetic, ecological, or recreational quality.</p> <p>“Stormwater management guidelines are typically written by engineers and they are very prescriptive. They are not traditionally designed to promote ecology or facilitate recreation,” Balderas Guzmán says.</p> <p>The team was able to create multifaceted wetland system designs thanks to its unique interdisciplinary makeup. Nepf, co-author of the study, says the engineers contributed hydraulic function innovations while the landscape architects envisioned how to make the wetland a valued part of the fabric of the city.</p> <p>Sparking interdisciplinary collaborations is a goal of J-WAFS seed grants, and Nepf credits J-WAFS with helping the engineers and urban planners to work together, bridging their different design processes and “different languages.”</p> <p>“J-WAFS provided a place where we could learn how to talk to each other,” Nepf says.</p> <p>Because of this unique collaboration, the guidelines offer a rich variety of benefits. They include recreational trails, which bridge the island clusters and connect city streets to inviting green space. The largest islands can hold event spaces for public programming, while floodplains beside the wetland can be used as sports fields, picnic areas, or playgrounds. The islands provide multiple ecological habitat zones, from dry upland to shallow and then deeper water. This habitat could be especially valuable to wetland species as natural wetlands disappear.</p> <p>The multiuse designs have a political advantage as well. They can help cities win public approval to implement stormwater wetlands, which have often proved to be challenging projects to get local residents to support. Communities unaware of the extent to which stormwater pollutes their water supply may not support using a space that could be a park or a playground for such a project. The addition of recreational features makes artificial wetlands an easier sell.</p> <p>“I hope these guidelines open people’s eyes to how they can multipurpose land in urban areas,” Nepf says. “I hope we make them think, ‘Okay, I need something to deal with stormwater runoff, so how do I make something that might also benefit the environment and the livability of the city.’”</p> A rendering of Los Angeles depicts green space and wetlands as envisioned by the MIT team.Image: Jonah SusskindResearch, Civil and environmental engineering, School of Engineering, Environment, Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS), Water, School of Architecture and Planning, Cities, Urban studies and planning, Architecture, Climate change, Flooding, J-WAFS Cooling buildings worldwide Analysis points the way to energy-efficient systems that take a location-specific approach to cooling and dehumidifying places where people live and work. Wed, 11 Jul 2018 16:30:00 -0400 Nancy W. Stauffer | MIT Energy Initiative <p>About 40 percent of all the energy consumed by buildings worldwide is used for space heating and cooling. With the warming climate as well as growing populations and rising standards of living — especially in hot, humid regions of the developing world — the level of cooling and dehumidification needed to ensure comfort and protect human health is predicted to rise precipitously, pushing up global energy demand.</p> <p>Much discussion is now focusing on replacing the greenhouse gases frequently used as refrigerants in today’s air conditioners. But another pressing concern is&nbsp;that most existing systems are extremely energy-inefficient.</p> <p>“The main reason they’re inefficient is that they have two tasks to perform,” says&nbsp;<a href="">Leslie Norford</a>, the George Macomber (1948) Professor in Construction Management in the Department of Architecture. “They need to lower temperature and remove moisture, and doing both those things together takes a lot of extra energy.”</p> <p>The standard approach to dehumidification is to run cold water through pipes inside a building space. If that water is colder than the dew-point temperature, water vapor in the air will condense on the outer surfaces of the pipes. (Think of water droplets beading up on a cold soda can on a hot, humid day.) In an air conditioning system, that water may drop off outside or,&nbsp;in a large-scale system serving a building, be gathered into a collection pan.</p> <p>The problem is that running a chiller to get water that cold takes a lot of electricity — and the water is far colder than needed to lower the temperature in the room. Separating the two functions brings energy savings on two fronts. Removing moisture from outdoor air brought into the building requires cold water but far less of it than is needed to remove heat from occupied areas. With that job done, running cool (not cold) water through pipes in the ceiling or floor will maintain a comfortable temperature.</p> <p>A decade ago, Norford and his colleagues at the <a href="">Masdar Institute</a>&nbsp;in Abu Dhabi confirmed the energy benefits of maintaining comfortable temperatures using cool-water pipes in the room — especially when indoor spaces are pre-cooled at night, when electricity is cheap and the outside air is cool. But the dehumidification process remained inefficient. Condensing water vapor is inherently energy-intensive, so the researchers needed to find another way to remove humidity.</p> <p><strong>Borrowing from desalination systems</strong></p> <p>Two years ago, a promising alternative was brought to Norford’s attention by&nbsp;<a href="">John Lienhard</a>, MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water and Mechanical Engineering. Lienhard&nbsp;is&nbsp;Norford’s colleague at the Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling, a research group at the&nbsp;<a href="">Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology</a>. Lienhard was working on energy-efficient technologies for desalination. Boiling seawater to precipitate the salt is very energy-intensive, so Lienhard’s group was looking instead at using semipermeable&nbsp;membranes that let water molecules through but stop salt ions. Norford thought a similar membrane could be designed that allows water vapor molecules to pass through so they can be separated from other, larger molecules that make up the indoor air.</p> <p>That concept became the subject of a project undertaken by two mechanical engineering graduate students: Tianyi Chen, who was working with Norford on the impacts of outdoor airflows on building energy performance, and Omar Labban, who was collaborating with Lienhard on using membranes in desalination systems. The students met in an advanced energy conversion class taught by&nbsp;<a href="">Ahmed Ghoniem</a>, the Ronald C. Crane (’72) Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Paired up for a class project, they identified air conditioning as a topic that would draw on their respective areas of research interest and use their newly acquired expertise in thermodynamic modeling and analysis.</p> <p>Their first task was to develop a thermodynamic model of the fundamental processes involved in air conditioning. Using that model, they calculated the theoretical least work&nbsp;needed to achieve dehumidification and cooling. They could then calculate the so-called second-law efficiency of a given technology, that is, the ratio of the theoretical minimum to its actual energy consumption. Using that metric as a benchmark, they could&nbsp;perform a systematic, consistent comparison of various designs in different climates.</p> <p>As an industrial benchmark for comparison, they used&nbsp;coefficient of performance (COP), a metric that shows how many units of cooling are provided for each unit of input electricity. The COP is used by today’s manufacturers, so it could show how different designs might perform relative to current equipment. For reference, Norford cites the COP of commercially available systems as ranging from 5 to 7. “But manufacturers are constantly coming up with better equipment, so the goalposts for competitors are continually moving,” he says.</p> <p>Norford’s earlier research had shown that cool-water pipes in the ceiling or floor can efficiently handle indoor cooling loads — that is, the heat coming from people, computers, sunlight, and so on. The researchers therefore focused on removing heat and moisture from outdoor air&nbsp;brought in for ventilation.</p> <p>They started by examining the performance of a commercially available air conditioner that uses&nbsp;the standard vapor compression system (VCS) that has been used for the past century. Their analysis quantified the inefficiency of not separating temperature and humidity control. Further, it pinpointed a major source of that inefficiency:&nbsp;the condensation process. Their results showed that the system was least efficient in cool, humid conditions and improved as conditions got hotter and drier. But at its best, it used five to 10 times more energy than the theoretical minimum required. Thus, there was significant opportunity for improvement.</p> <p><strong>Membranes and desiccants</strong></p> <p>To explore the use of membrane technology, the researchers began with a simple system incorporating a single membrane-containing unit. Outdoor air enters the unit, and a vacuum pump pulls the water vapor in it across the membrane. The pump then raises the pressure to ambient levels so the water vapor becomes liquid water before being ejected from the system. The no-longer-humid outdoor air passes from the membrane unit through a conventional cooling coil and enters the indoor space, providing fresh air for ventilation and pushing some warmer, humid exhaust air outdoors.</p> <p>According to their analysis, the system performs best in relatively dry conditions, but even then it achieves a COP of only 1.3 — not high enough to compete with a current system. The problem is that running the vacuum pump with high compression ratios consumes a lot of energy.</p> <p>To help cool the incoming air stream, the researchers tried adding a heat exchanger to transfer heat from the warm incoming air to the cool exhaust air and a condenser to turn water vapor captured by the membrane unit into cool water for the cooling coil. Those changes pushed the COP up to 2.4 — better but not high enough.</p> <p>The researchers next considered options using desiccants, materials that have a strong tendency to adsorb water and are often packed with consumer products to keep them dry. In air conditioning systems, a desiccant coating is typically mounted on a wheel that’s positioned between the incoming and exhaust airflows. As the wheel rotates, a portion of the desiccant first passes through the incoming air and adsorbs moisture from it. It then passes through the heated exhaust air, which dries it so it’s ready to adsorb more moisture on its next pass through the incoming air.</p> <p>The researchers began by analyzing several systems incorporating a desiccant wheel, but the gains in COP were limited. They next tried using the desiccant and membrane technologies together. In this design, a desiccant wheel, a membrane moisture exchanger, and a heat exchanger all transfer moisture and heat from the incoming air to the exhaust air. A cooling coil further cools the incoming air before it’s delivered to the indoor space. A heat pump warms the exhaust air, which then passes through the desiccant to dry and regenerate it for continued use.</p> <p>This complicated “hybrid” system yields a COP of 4 under a wide range of temperatures and humidity. But that’s still not high enough to compete.</p> <p><strong>Two-membrane system</strong></p> <p>The researchers then tried a novel system that omits the desiccant wheel but includes two membrane units, yielding a design that’s relatively simple but more speculative than the others. The key new concept&nbsp;involved&nbsp;the fate of the water vapor in the incoming air stream.</p> <p>In this system, a&nbsp;vacuum pump pulls&nbsp;the water vapor through a membrane—now called membrane unit 1. But the captured water vapor is then pushed across the membrane in unit 2 and joins the exhaust air stream — without ever turning into liquid water. In this arrangement, the vacuum pump only has to ensure that the vapor pressure is higher on the upstream side of membrane 2 than it is on the downstream side so that the water vapor is pushed through. There’s no need for raising the pressure to ambient levels, which would condense the water vapor, so running the vacuum pump takes less work. That novel approach results in a COP that can reach as high as 10 and achieves a COP of 9 at many combinations of temperature and humidity.</p> <p><strong>Different options for different cities</strong></p> <p>For most of the systems analyzed, performance varies at different combinations of ambient temperature and humidity level. To investigate the practical impact of that variability, the researchers examined how selected systems would perform in four cities with different climates. In each case, the analysis assumed an average summertime outdoor temperature and relative humidity.</p> <p>In general, the systems they considered outperformed the conventional VCS operating at COPs consistent with current practice. For example, in Dubai (representing a tropical desert climate), using the hybrid membrane-desiccant system could reduce energy consumption by as much as 30 percent relative to the standard VCS. In Las Vegas (a subtropical arid climate), where humidity is lower, a desiccant-based system (without the membrane) is the most efficient option, potentially also bringing a 30 percent reduction.</p> <p>In New York (a subtropical humid climate), all the designs look good, but the desiccant-based system does best with a 70 percent reduction in overall energy consumption. And in Singapore (a tropical oceanic climate), the desiccant system and the combined membrane-desiccant system do equally well, with a potential savings of as much as 40 percent — and given the costs of the two options, the desiccant-alone system emerges as the top choice.</p> <p>Taken together, the researchers’ findings provide two key messages for achieving more efficient indoor cooling worldwide. First, using membranes and desiccants can push up air conditioner efficiency, but the real performance gains come when such technologies are incorporated into carefully designed and integrated systems. And second, the local climate and the availability of resources — both energy and water — are critical factors to consider when deciding what air conditioning system will deliver the best performance in a given area of the world.</p> <p><em>This article appears in the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Spring 2018</a>&nbsp;issue of&nbsp;</em>Energy Futures,<em>&nbsp;the magazine of the MIT Energy Initiative.</em></p> An MIT team performing fundamental studies of systems for cooling and dehumidifying indoor spaces includes (l-r): Professor Leslie Norford, graduate students Tianyi Chen and Omar Labban, and Professor John Lienhard. Chen and Labban began the work when they teamed up for an assignment in an advanced energy conversion class taught by Professor Ahmed Ghoniem (not pictured).Photo: Stuart DarschMIT Energy Initiative, Research, Energy, School of Engineering, Sustainability, Environment, Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Mechanical engineering, Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Building the green Ken Wang ’71, MIT Corporation member and former MIT Alumni Association president, developed one of America’s premier modern golf courses. Fri, 29 Jun 2018 16:00:01 -0400 Jay London | MIT Alumni Association <p>MIT has a long connection with the sport of golf, on and off the course. The Institute’s varsity golf program existed from 1902 to 2009 and won at least eight recorded team or tournament championships and included at least 13 individual champions and medalists. And today MIT’s Club Golf Team is a competitive group that is part of the National Collegiate Club Golf Association.</p> <p>Off the course, <em>MIT Technology Review</em> has attempted to characterize the perfect golf swing; Professor Anette “Peko” Hosoi has chronicled the impact of follow-through; and Professor Pedro Reis has studied how golf ball dimples might improve vehicle efficiency.</p> <p>One alumnus, however, has truly gotten his hands onto the putting green. Ken Wang ’71, former MIT Alumni Association president who graduated with a degree from MIT's Department of Economics and currently serves on the MIT Corporation, developed one of the most highly regarded public golf courses in the country: the 170-acre Pound Ridge Golf Course, located less than an hour outside New York City.</p> <p>Wang purchased the Pound Ridge course with his father as a lightly played nine-hole course in 1980, and completely rebuilt it as an 18-hole course in 2008. It’s known today as one of America’s premier public golf courses.</p> <p>“We bought the course with no grander strategy than to have a place to golf near our family country home,” he says. “But today it’s very rare to find modern courses built near urban cities.”</p> <p>The 18-hole transformation was the work legendary course architect Pete Dye, who is known for course designs that blend traditional golfing features with unique, thought-provoking twists.</p> <p>“Pete thinks like a mathematician or engineer,” Wang says. “And he is a kindred spirit to the MIT community. His aw-shucks image notwithstanding, every angle has been figured out — to the nearest decimal. That precision has always appealed to the MIT side of me.”</p> <p>As in previous years, Wang's course will be the site of this year's annual MIT Alumni Golf Classic.</p> <p>“Being an MIT alum means more than just being a scientist or engineer,” Wang says. “It’s about connecting with the MIT community and having fun.”</p> <p><em>The 2018 <a href=";gid=13&amp;pgid=42877&amp;content_id=45489" target="_blank">MIT Alumni Golf Classic</a> will take place Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Pound Ridge Golf Club in Pound Ridge, New York. A discounted early bird price for individuals and foursomes is available until July 1. Free coach bus transportation from MIT campus will be available for Boston-area golfers.</em></p> <p><em>A version of this article first appeared on the <a href="" target="_blank">Slice of MIT</a> blog.</em></p> Ken Wang ’71 rebuilt the Pound Ridge Golf Course as an 18-hole course in 2008. Photo courtesy of the MIT Alumni Association. Alumni/ae, Sports and fitness, Architecture, Business and management, Economics, School of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences MIT Collaboration with Dar Group supports the future of architecture, planning, and design Tue, 26 Jun 2018 13:50:01 -0400 MIT Resource Development <p>MIT and the School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) have announced a collaboration with the Dar Group, an international planning, design, and architectural firm led by SA+P Advisory Council member Talal Shair.</p> <p>The collaboration will support the proposed renovation, recently announced by the Institute, of the historic Metropolitan Storage Warehouse on the MIT main campus as a new location for SA+P. Dar and SA+P will also come together to engage in research on the future of cities and urban areas.</p> <p>SA+P is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top schools of architecture, planning, and design.&nbsp;It is the home of the&nbsp;first department of architecture in the&nbsp;United States — which this year is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its first graduating class — as well as the oldest continuously running department of urban studies and planning.</p> <p>“This is a big step into the future for the School of Architecture and Planning,” Hashim Sarkis, dean of SA+P, said of the collaboration, which was marked by a signing ceremony on MIT’s campus earlier in June. “I am very grateful to Mr. Shair and to Dar for helping us realize such a momentous opportunity to elevate the culture of design at MIT and to collaborate on research with the potential to impact urban settings around the globe.”</p> <p>“We are proud to take part in this collaboration because it reflects many of the ideals and values of the Dar Group,” said Shair. "At Dar, we believe that with sufficient imagination, commitment, and determination, our most ambitious goals are within reach. This project enables us to join with MIT in that spirit and make a lasting contribution to our field, and to the world.”</p> <p>Built in the late 19th&nbsp;and early 20th&nbsp;centuries, the Metropolitan Warehouse, located at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street, is included in the National Register of Historic Places. The proposed renovations would preserve the structure’s distinctive external features and create 200,000 square feet of state-of-the-art interior spaces including classrooms, studios, workshops, galleries, and an auditorium.&nbsp;A featured part of the renovated building would be a new makerspace headed by Martin Culpepper, a professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and leader of the Institute’s Precision Compliant Systems Laboratory. That space would provide expanded design and fabrication facilities for the MIT community. &nbsp;</p> <p>The planned new location for SA+P would create a hub for interdisciplinary research and learning&nbsp;in&nbsp;art, architecture, and urban planning&nbsp;at the Institute, with benefits for the entire MIT community. “With this project, we will be able&nbsp;to strengthen even further the human and cultural aspects of an MIT education,” Sarkis noted. “This is an exciting moment for SA+P and MIT.”</p> MIT President L. Rafael Reif (left) and Talal Shair sign documents related to the collaboration between the Dar Group and MIT. Photo: John GilloolyGiving, Campus buildings and architecture, Architecture, Urban studies and planning, Center for Real Estate, Media Lab, Facilities, Collaboration, education, Education, teaching, academics