MIT Celebrates Oldest Architecture Program in the United States with the Exhibition Drawing, Designing, Thinking: 150 Years of Teaching Architecture at MIT

January 15, 2019

February 14, 2019 - August 25, 2019
MIT Museum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) celebrates the oldest architecture program in the United States with the exhibition, Drawing, Designing, Thinking: 150 Years of Teaching Architecture at MIT February 14 - August 25, 2019 at the MIT Museum. Featuring works by distinguished alumni such as Robert R. Taylor ‘1892, I.M. Pei ‘40, and Charles Correa ‘55 that they created while students at MIT, the exhibition also presents educational material created by faculty including founder William R. Ware, Gyorgy Kepes, and Joan Jonas, highlighting the Institute’s forward thinking leadership in architectural education.

The exhibition is designed around five themes - Studio, Proxies, Research, Interdisciplinarity and Futures - that highlight the work of students and faculty in the course of the department’s history. In this way, the exhibition shows how the department has constantly innovated pedagogically to prepare its students to design for the rapidly changing world around us.

The exhibition’s 200 drawings, models, and videos present highlights from the 150-years of history, and provides a glimpse of its future. The exhibition is part of the yearlong celebration of 150 years of architecture at MIT which includes a series of teaching experiments, alumni events, concluding with a symposium on design research this spring.

“The ways in which the education of the architect has changed over a century and a half and the evolution of professional practice itself is revealed through an examination of the MIT program, the first in the country,” said Gary Van Zante, Curator of Architecture, Design and Photography at the MIT Museum. “The early mission of the department was to elevate the profession of architecture and evolved to encompass an expanding field of practice, scholarship, and research. The earliest students had a rigorous training in architectural drawing and in the principles of design, but as the profession and architecture itself grew more complex, “architectural thinking,” as the founding architect and first instructor William R. Ware called it, required a multidisciplinary education.”

“The School of Architecture and Planning at MIT of today is a large community of educators who work in a wide range of disciplines with a diverse student body from around the world,” said Mark Jarzombek, Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture, MIT School of Architecture and Planning.Aiming to address global challenges, the department is a place where architecture is explored along a wide spectrum of possibilities, from the pragmatic to the visionary. “

Curatorial Team
Mark Jarzombek, School of Architecture and Planning, Gary Van Zante, MIT Museum; Irina Chernyakova, Alexander Wood; Daryl McCurdy and Jennifer Tran; Andrew Scott and J. Meejin Yoon, Advisors; Ibañez Kim, Design; E Roon Kang and Richard The; Graphic Design.

About the 150 Years of Architecture Education at MIT Anniversary
In 1865, MIT President William Barton Rogers asked architect William Robert Ware to create a course in architecture at the Institute. Ware sought a new pedagogical model for preparing architects for practice. After visiting architecture, design, and trade schools across Europe to observe models of education, he returned to create a program that aimed to synthesize professional, artistic, and humanist pedagogies. Looking towards the future, Ware remarked in his Outline of a Course of Architectural Instruction: “It is the aim of this School to do what it can, in its day and generation, to insure that the Architecture of the future shall be worthy of the future.”

The exhibition at the MIT Museum is part of a large-scale, year-long celebration which includes a series of events such as the Experiments in Pedagogy, Conversations on Practice, alumni receptions, and a symposium, Turning Points in Architecture, Design, and Research. Continuing through Spring 2019, the MIT Architecture community is marking this milestone by reflecting on the past and present, and envisioning the future of architectural education at MIT.

150th Advisory Committee: Andrew Scott, J. Meejin Yoon, Mark Jarzombek, Ana MiljaĨki, Les Norford, Skylar Tibbits, Azra Akšamija, Andreea O'Connell, Paul Pettigrew, Irina Chernyakova, with students and alumni Alexander Wood, Jessica Pace, Alex Bodkin, Borislav Angelov, and Alex Kobald. #mitarch150


About the MIT Museum
The MIT Museum presents engaging exhibitions, robust programs, and lively events. The Institute’s past achievements are celebrated through the Museum’s extensive and unique collection, while MIT’s current research, innovation, and design provide a catalyst for exhibition themes and stories. The Museum offers a wide range of programs that appeal to audiences ranging from middle-school students to adults, including the annual Cambridge Science Festival. For more information, visit


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Media Contacts

Leah Talatinian, Arts at MIT


Martha Davis
MIT Museum