The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced that Nicholas de Monchaux will be the new head of its School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) beginning July of this year, and will also maintain an affiliated faculty member position in the institute’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). As a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome with degrees in architecture from Yale University and Princeton University, de Monchaux comes to the program after serving as a Professor of Architecture and Urban Design and Director of the Center for New Media at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 2006. During his time at Berkeley, de Monchaux authored Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (MIT Press, 2011), an expansive study of the technology and design behind space exploration that later won the Eugene Emme award from the American Astronautical Society and was shortlisted for the Art Book Prize. With Kathryn Moll, he maintains a principal role at modem, an architecture practice with a focus on social, ecological, and community-based projects. The news comes two years after J. Meejin Yoon, a cofounding principal of Höweler + Yoon Architecture, stepped down at the head of architecture at MIT to become the dean of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. While in that position, Yoon advocated for the school to focus on the intersection between technology, design, and climate science. Professor Andrew Scott has maintained the role of interim department head while the school appointed a new permanent head, and will continue in that role through the end of the spring semester. De Monchaux has not yet stated his goals as the new department head, but it is assumed that he will continue his focus on current environmental challenges and social shifts as he has addressed them in his professional and academic roles.
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Cornell University's College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (Cornell AAP) has just announced its new dean, J. Meejin Yoon, AIA, who will be the first woman to take the post and will succeed Kieran Donaghy, currently the Interim Dean of the school. Yoon is currently a professor and the first female head of the department of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yoon co-founded Boston-based practice Höweler + Yoon Architecture LLP with partner Eric Howeler. "I am very excited about my new role as Dean at Cornell and look forward to amplifying the agendas already at Cornell AAP that I can contribute to," Yoon said in a statement. "Cornell has excellent programs in architecture, art, and city and regional planning. As a designer, I have always tried to work in ways that cut across or sit at the intersection between disciplinary boundaries and I find the eco-system of disciplines and expertise at Cornell extremely substantive. I also see tremendous potential for expanding the role of technology within the culture of design at Cornell, from computational design and digital fabrication to data-driven processes in planning to new forms of media in the arts." Yoon has been widely recognized for her teaching and practice. She was the winner of the New Generation Design Leadership Award by Architectural Record in 2015, the United States Artist Award in Architecture and Design in 2008, the Rome Prize in Design in 2005, and a Fulbright Scholarship in 1998, with which she completed a trip to Korea. She received a Master of Architecture in Urban Design with Distinction from Harvard University in 1997, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University in 1995, where she attained the AIA Henry Adams Medal. She was born in Seoul, Korea, and grew up in the states. Höweler + Yoon will maintain its office in Boston where it is working on both local and global projects. "Now more than ever, we need design to address complex challenges across multiple scales," Yoon said. "From climate change to rapid urbanization and social strife, design plays an instrumental role in the transformation of cities and cultures. There is an urgency to design to address these critical challenges, and there is an agency to design in enabling instrumental change." Yoon will commence her role in the next academic year. Cornell AAP is one of the oldest and most respected schools of architecture in the United States and is the only department in the Ivy League to offer a NAAB-accredited Bachelor of Architecture degree.
On November 2-4, ACADIA will host its annual conference at MIT. Ahead of the proceedings, The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) spoke with one of this year’s organizers, Skylar Tibbits, Assistant Professor of Design Research in MIT's Department of Architecture and director of the Self-Assembly Lab—to get a preview of what to expect from this year’s impressive lineup. AN: The theme of this year’s conference is Disciplines & Disruption. What are the prime disruptors you’ve identified and what types of research are you expecting to see? ST: If you asked this question in previous years, everyone’s attention was on robots. We had a robotics arms race for a moment and robotics has spun off into its own architectural conferences. The submissions this year are more about AI and Machine Learning, Visualization like AR/VR, and advances in HCI demonstrating the wealth and breadth of tools now available and the velocity of technological change. AN: The most disruptive thing is really the acceleration of technological change, is it not? ST: It’s a given that people participate in ACADIA for the latest and greatest research in technology for the architectural field and yet we are struck also by the context. Disruption isn’t about just rapid change in markets but about people, their contexts, and concerns and the feeling of cultural and technological shifts happening concurrently. AN: Can you speak more to these shifts and how you define disciplines in increasingly co-located and overlapping fields of research? ST: Disciplinary shifts look like convergence and hybridization. Boundaries between disciplines shrink and we ask what are the limits of the discipline today. Is ACADIA a Materials Science conference or a Computer Science Conference? Of course, the work comes out of architecture practice, but we need to ask those disciplinary questions in a bigger way. When everyone is a hybrid, you can get quite existential about what you are doing. We have a great line-up of keynotes from Neri Oxman and Thomas Heatherwick to Nervous Systems and Ben Fry that I think embody these hybrid practices. AN: What has changed in the course of ACADIA’s history? ACADIA started back when CAD was a novel idea and now every architecture student uses tools in really advanced ways. The technologies are now so ubiquitous and yet there is always room for innovation. The pressing questions become about testing the limits of the disciplines and how we can understand and elevate the social/cultural/political impacts while we innovate. AN: What makes hosting the conference at MIT special? The organizers and myself wanted to bring the MIT ethos to ACADIA. I want attendees to come away with a sense of the real MIT, not just that we are tight-knit group of techies, but that there are people here looking seriously at the big picture and developing hybrid research practices. ACADIA kicks off this weekend with a Hackathon at MIT Media Lab followed by three days of workshops at the newly opened Autodesk BUILD Sspace. The conference is happening at MIT November 2-4. Visit 2017.acadia.org