A number of times since I decided to come to grad school at MIT, I’ve had people in the profession say something along the lines of “Huh, I haven’t heard much about MIT. They have an architecture school? Who’s the department head? What have they been up to?” I moved here from New York, where I’d been living and working, and MIT just isn’t on as many people’s radar down there as Yale or Harvard or Princeton.
We don’t have an iconic building like the other big architecture schools do. Our diverse discipline groups also don’t tend to cohere in a unified block like is common in other schools. But we also don’t have a well publicized institutional history. I’m thinking, that this book might help: A Second Modernism: MIT Architecture and the ‘Techno-Social’ Moment. It’s a tome- almost a thousand pages, and filled with essays from historians and theorists from both inside and outside, from people like Stanford Anderson who have been around MIT forever, and others like Hashim Sarkis who came to MIT to dig through the institutional archives. It was edited by Associate Professor Arindam Dutta, and compiled by a number of really smart HTC (History Theory and Criticism) grad students.
I just bought a copy last night, and it will take me some time to dig all the way through it. It seems, though, like it has the potential to answer some of those questions people have about MIT, or at least provide some insights into where it came from, and where it might be going in the future.
These images are sample pages taken from the MIT press website. You can buy a copy there as well.