Page 1


MIT Department of Architecture

Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture & Planning Department of Architecture 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 7-337 Cambridge, MA 02139 617 253 7791 / Š 2017 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Individual contributions are copyright their respective authors. Images are copyright their respective creators, unless otherwise noted. SA+P Press, 2017 Printed by Puritan Press Hollis, New Hampshire

MIT Architecture Spring 2017 Thesis Reviews


Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BSA)


Joie Chang

Master of Architecture (MArch)


Steven Albert


Stefan Elsholtz


Nicolo Guida


Jessica Jorge


Zhao Ma


Meng Sun

Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS)


Alpha Arsano

Building Technology


Jie Bao

Architecture and Urbanism


Garine Boghossian

Architecture and Urbanism


Jan Casimir

Architectural Design


Jonathan Dessi-Olive



Jamie Farrell

Architecture and Urbanism


Daniel Fink

Architecture and Urbanism


Rio Fischer

Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture


Junjiao Gan

Architecture and Urbanism


Gizem Gumuskaya



Ali Khodr

Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture


Hunmin Koh



Lucy Siyao Liu

Architectural Design


Liz McCormick

Building Technology


Kris Menos

Architectural Design


29 Milan Outlaw

Architecture and Urbanism

30 Ege Ozgirin


31 Nicholas A. Pacula

Architectural Design

32 Scott Penman

Architecture and Urbanism

33 Oscar Rosello


34 Luisa de Lucena Schettino

Architecture and Urbanism

35 Akshita Sivakumar

Architectural Design

36 Yasaman Tahouni

Architecture and Urbanism

37 Dishita Turakhia


38 Xiang Xu

Architecture and Urbanism

39 Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell

History, Theory and Criticism

Master of Science in Building Technology (SMBT)


Arfa Aijazi


Norhan M. Bayomi


Noor K. Khouri


Bradley Tran


Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BSA)

Designing in Virtual Reality: Tools with the Human Field of Vision Joie Chang Advisor: Takehiko Nagakura

Virtual Reality (VR) will be the next common medium for digital visualization. The purpose of this thesis is to explore how designers will use and discover new design methods of representation in virtual reality. How do computational design tools such as CAD and VR, which are digital representations of the physical, affect our designs of physical space? In this thesis, I explore the following hypotheses: 1) If a designer engages in making a space in the 2D screen environment, they consistently misjudge the scale of objects and their spatial relationship to the human body. In contrast, virtual reality will excel in representing site context, depth, and scale. 2) Designers will create more structured designs in the 2D screen environment. VR will encourage more organic design formations and a preference for monumentality and open spaces. 3) Designers will

gravitate to 3D models with realistic rendering textures in VR while showing greater preference for abstract and geometric forms in CAD. The purpose of this thesis is thus twofold. The first purpose is to create a proof of concept virtual reality design tool that could be integrated easily into existing design practices. I prototype an architectural virtual reality tool that allows a user to explore their 3D-modeled spaces with full locomotion and to visually record their experiences on the site. I wish to repurpose the VR medium as not just a consumptive tool but as a mode of critical creation. The second purpose of this project is to better understand how our spatial perception interacts with simulated virtual space and thus our manners of design. I hope to ascertain where virtual reality’s value as a medium of digital visualization lies, as well as its flaws.


Master of Architecture (MArch)

Playspace for All: Inclusive Wayfinding Steven Albert Advisor: Antón García-Abril; Readers: Lorena Bello Gomez, Caroline Jones

Within the generic playground, an obsession with safety has stifled play. The common elements (the slide, swing, seesaw) have become so prescribed that design considerations disregard a major aspect that is important for play as a means of development – curiosity. This thesis proposes a reconsideration of playspaces which embody ideals that encourage play through self directed exploration, investigation, and risk. The goal is to integrate these ideals of play and create a curious procession between the object and the path. Through the act wayfinding, the risk of losing one’s way may lead to something equally rewarding. Therefore, the project relies on two gestures: the meandering path and the curious object as a landmark. Through a series of paths, with no prescribed route or set sequence of approach, the playspace offers a maze of tactile environments. Thresholds along these paths at times form more intimate pockets of play as further distractions

or challenges to encounter. Varying degrees of transparency mask and reveal curious objects on approach and serve as a means to both entice and distract. Changes in sloped surfaces and material each suggest different ways of play, encountering risk or engaging in tactile investigation. Through exploration, investigation, and risk each child can establish a sense of ownership and achievement as an individual or as a part of a larger cooperative as routes intersect and reveal larger play areas. Within a playground that contains no swings or slides, there is no right or wrong way to play, navigate, or explore. There is no prescribed path or sequence of how to play, what to play on, around or with. Instead, the solution provides an abundance of visual, tactile, and auditory elements that suggest open exploration and investigation, regardless of ability. 7

Elemental Shelters for Nomads Stefan Elsholtz Advisor: Azra Akšamija; Readers: Mark Jarzombek, J. Meejin Yoon

its design functionality with another project, Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House of 1929. The Dymaxion House, unlike the RHU, was not intended for refugees but rather rising middleclass Americans looking forward to an ever more modern, prosperous, and mobile lifestyle. Fuller, like many of his contemporaries, believed that the new technological realities of structural lightness and industrial production would usher in a global society free of constraints, a world of modern nomads. Today, as the number of people displaced by war and climate change around the world reaches 60 million for the first time, the modern architect’s dream of global freedom is arriving in the form of global vulnerability. Approaches to the issue of shelter, meanwhile, have declined from the energy of projects such as Dymaxion House to the mundaneness of RHU. In my thesis I revisit key works of modern nomadic architecture, testing their relationship to materiality, form, structure, movement, and other parameters, in order to synthesize a series of alternative, speculative shelters addressing the needs of various dispossessed populations today.

“The Stone Age logic said that the wider and heavier the walls, the more happily secure would be the inhabitants. The advent of metal alloys in the 20th century has brought an abrupt change from structural ponderousness to structural lightness.” “[…] As a consequence of the myriad of more-withless, invisible, technological advances of the 20th century, it is now technically feasible that within 10 years we can have all of humanity enjoying a sustainably higher standard of living-with vastly increased degrees of freedom than has ever been enjoyed by anyone in all history.” – R. Buckminster Fuller

Last year, as millions of refugees flowed out of Syria fleeing the civil war, the United Nations Refugee Agency reached out to the Swedish furniture designer Ikea to develop a shelter for refugees called “The Refugee Housing Unit” (RHU). The stated needs for the shelter were structural and material efficiency, low cost, prefabrication, ability to flat pack, built-in solar panels for energy generation, and ease of both assembly and disassembly. The RHU shares all

Dymaxion House (Buckminster Fuller, 1929) and Refugee Housing Unit (Ikea, 2016)


A Love Letter to the American Mall Nicolo Guida Advisor: Joel Lamere; Readers: Andrew Holder, Brent D. Ryan

In 1956, Victor Gruen designed the first climate controlled Shopping Center in the United States, giving birth to the Regional Mall. Gruen’s wish for the Mall was to bring communal gathering to the American Suburbs through a mix of social amenities, commercialism, art, and entertainment. For Gruen the Mall was a civic center that would provide a needed space to participate in modern community life which was traditionally served by a town square or urban downtown. He wanted to promote human idea exchange, the exchange of goods, freedom of human expression, the greatest amount of choice between solitude and privacy on one hand and sociability and gregariousness on the other. However, the history of Malls is also the history of development. And development does not come without developers. For developers the Mall was a means to take advantage of government tax breaks on commercial real estate. What was the tool for this process?

The Anchor Store. The anchor store was a means to bring financial stability to the mall and generate retail traffic. Anchor stores are representation of who will come to the mall and who will stay at the mall. And by merely adding more Anchor Stores and increasing the amount of parking, developers discovered they could generate an incredible amount of profit. So as the number of malls grew, so did their forms. 2 anchors gave way to 3. 3 anchors to 4. And 4 to 5. And this developer logic carried over to the mall interior. Although high architecture did not seem to want anything to do with the mall, the mall wanted everything to do with high architecture. The mall became an amalgamation of aestheticized high architectural forms with the cheapest building technologies of the moment. The Classical, the Modern, the Brutalist, and the Postmodern (used and misused) all became staples of the mall just as much as anchor stores and plentiful parking. In this way the Malls are a mashup of these particular moments in time and act as machines for the re-deployment of architectural forms in strange and unusual ways.


The Island the Day After: A New Experiment for Cuba Jessica Jorge Advisor: Ana Miljacki; Readers: Angelo Bucci, J. Meejin Yoon

This thesis seeks to investigate the role of architecture in staging, broadcasting, and promoting political and social ideologies, especially as new political regimes come to power and are confronted with the monuments and built artifacts of their predecessors. This thesis is interested in how the optimistic promises of any nascent government are staged in buildings and in the city. What sites remain, are transformed, or are torn down? The story of Havana’s growth in the twentieth century is directly tied to the political motivations of its leaders. While the country was free from the Spanish but not quite independent, the city grew up. Casinos, high-rise apartments and hotels captured coastal real estate through which money could be funneled to the upper echelons of the Batista regime. Along with Fidel Castro came a promise of utopia. For a brief moment, the revolution sponsored a new, experimental architectural form. The US Embargo and the fall of the Soviet Union halted Havana’s growth and urbanization abruptly. This history suggests three key attitudes towards architecture as a site of politics: augmentation through additional construction, erasure of buildings in order to re-write history, or inhabitation of a building in order to reuse its infrastructure while simultaneously changing its function and image. In order to test these strategies, this thesis inserts itself in a future moment of crisis and revolution in Cuba, a moment akin to the Cuba’s independence movement and to the time of Castro’s rise to power. It questions the inevitability of a wave of capitalism washing over the island in the post-Castro years and instead imagines a new state-sponsored project to make Cuba 100 percent food-independent. In this future, the state witnesses the political turmoil and instability around the globe and realizes it cannot rely on foreign aid and imports to feed its people; it designs a return to its agrarian past. This thesis argues for an alternate ending to the story of Cuba’s experiment with social-

ism. While construction was cut short due to political contingencies in the early 1960s, could there be a new experiment for the Havana of today? Can the aspiration for a collective urbanity be revived? Where will the future sites of production exist in the city? In Havana, there are pockets of vibrant life, notably in the Old City, along La Rampa, or along the Malecon. Here, glimpses of the promised socialist dream may still be visible. This thesis asks if these few social islands (or social condensers in the words of O.M. Ungers) can be saved, if they can become sites of non-capitalist production and education, and if they can help sustain Cuba into our unknown future.


Halo: Re-forming Architectural Space with Light Caustics Zhao Ma Advisor: Brandon Clifford; Readers: Mark Jarzombek, Caitlin Mueller

What form can light take? Light has been an eternal theme in architectural design. Light defines, shapes, and transforms space in various ways. However, the way light has been used in human history has not changed: the variation of space is a result of the interaction between light and shadow along with the geometry and materials that defines the space itself.

Is it possible to extend the possibility of light from the very basic level? This thesis questions one of the fundamental uses of light in architectural space: how can we use light beyond the realm of shuttering? With the implementation of a set of state-of-the-art algorithms in the computer graphics field, the thesis presents a serious of explorations in how refraction can re-form the architectural experience using the movement of light in both still and dynamic ways.

Through the BLOCKING of light comes the variation of shadows.

Through the REDISTRIBUTION of light comes the variation of time.


Mind’s Architecture Meng Sun Advisor: Takehiko Nagakura; Readers: Azra Akšamija, Cristina Parreño

Space is a container for memory. This metaphor is built upon the observation that the human mind can easily acquire spatial information without much deliberation. Moreover, nonspatial information can be better retrieved when associated with a spatial memory. The mnemonic function of space has been explored since ancient Greek and Roman times. The method of loci uses imaginary space and its spatial continuity to encode information and its sequence. Physical spaces are also used as cognitive devices to enforce knowledge structures and future information retrieval. The science of spatial cognition demonstrates how human perception is tuned to the features of the environment.

In the digital age, the representation of information in visual space shifted from mirroring the real world to triggering experience symbolically. What should virtual space permit and deny in parallel to the real world? Symbolic systems can be capable of eliciting the rich virtual experience from the mind’s myriad depths, with even more leverage compared to representing objects in a mechanical context. Given space’s mnemonic function and cyberspace’s rich potential, this thesis explores the design of virtual space for projecting, retrieving, and composing memory. The project proposes several design schemes to experiment with and understand the possible relations between virtual space and memory.


Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMArchS)


CLIMA + An Early Design Method for Natural Ventilation Prediction Alpha Yacob Arsano Advisor: Christoph Reinhart; Readers: Brandon Clifford, Erik Olsen

Thermal comfort is one of the fundamental aspects of indoor environmental quality and it is strongly related to occupant satisfaction and energy use in buildings (Schiavon et al 2014). One of the most widely discussed passive building design strategies is using natural ventilation for cooling. During initial design phase, designers use climate-file based analysis to evaluate potential of comfort ventilation amongst other building strategies. However, it is customary to conduct detailed simulations to develop and evaluate decisions in the later stages of design. This thesis has identified inconsistencies between early climate-file based analysis and late-stage simulation studies. Major differences arise from the limitations of climate-file based analysis on calculating the coupling of natural ventilation and thermal mass, and account for the different drivers and modes of natural ventilation. Load variations of different build-

ing programs and occupancy patterns are also poorly considered in climate-file based tools such as Climate Consultant. This thesis has carefully reviews the assumptions underlying early design climatefile based analysis and late-stage simulation studies, evaluates their consistency for a variety of building types and climates, and proposes a new workflow for design teams to use. Going forward, the proposed methodology will be adapted for further study to cope with climate change impacts on natural ventilation. The main objective of this manuscript is to allow a convenient and reliable transition between an early design climate-file based analysis and a detailed building design analysis whereby natural ventilation and other passive building strategies are fully explored to increase thermal comfort while reducing energy consumption.


Fables of Undiscovered Cities Jie Bao Advisor: Rafi Segal; Readers: Azra Akšamjia, Brent D. Ryan

assisted by numerous technologies and applications. We have ambitions to digitize and analyze every corner of our existing world; however, in grasping the world more precisely and effectively, we give up the possibility of obscurity and the unknown. This thesis is a voyage aiming at the exploration of new possibilities of urban entities: the creation of a series of undiscovered dream worlds in order to rediscover the features of the real world we think we inhabit. These alternative dream worlds are designed not only to expose, engage, and open our eyes and minds, but also to evoke critical thinking and reflection on existing urban problems and urban structures of our present world. Stories and drawings are used to materialize those fictitious cities. The more convincing and detailed the cities appear, the more observation and analysis could be applied and developed. And by doing so, readers are invited to start their own adventures in the undiscovered territories.

“Space... The final frontier... These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: To explore strange new worlds... To seek out new life; new civilizations... To boldly go where no one has gone before!” — Jean-Luc Picard, Captain, Starship Enterprise NCC-1701D

Humans have always felt a primordial urge to explore—to blaze new trails, to map new lands, and to ask profound questions about ourselves. The intangible desire to explore and challenge the boundaries of what we know and where we have been make us who we are and who we will become. The voyage of discovery consists not only in seeking new landscapes, but also in having new eyes; acquiring an external standard of criticism incites the journey of self-discovery and self-reflection. By opening a new world, we rediscover the old. As the discipline of urban design developed, designers engaged disciplines 15

Making Waves: The Past Futures of Azerbaijan’s Islands Garine Boghossian Advisor: Rania Ghosn; Readers: Eve Blau, Brent D. Ryan, Hashim Sarkis

This thesis is a collection of design speculations meant to question the frenzy around capitalist urban development in emerging “world-class” cities. It studies, in particular, how post-extraction economies are restructuring the industrial city to promote it as a site of leisure, tourism and real-estate. This transition often uses architecture and urban design that relies on a jargon of superlatives, the signature of starchitects, and the power of mass media image circulation to project a utopic vision. The thesis uses the island as a site for investigation and experimentation. Both a geographical entity and a widely-used metaphor, the island is often defined through dualisms: utopic and dystopic; insular and yet connected. The notion of territoriality is crucial here, where the island, with its seemingly defined geographical boundaries, is in fact part of a larger geological, socio-economic, and political territory. Thus, it often becomes a physical testing ground to realize different social and spatial propositions, such as urban segregation, the development of elite enclaves, exotic tourist attractions, and heightened securitization. Focusing on Azerbaijan’s Caspian Seawaters, this thesis studies Baku’s offshore urbanization on its natural and artificial islands. Initially significant for their strategic role in protecting the mainland, Azerbaijan’s islands have been heavily involved in natural resource extraction and en16

ergy production for the past half century. As oil and gas resources deplete and revenues fall, the state is considering alternative ways to diversify its economy. Hence, various post-extraction futures are currently being projected onto these sites: the islands of the Baku archipelago, Pirallahi island as well as Neft Dashlari, the first off-shore drilling facility in the world. The dependence of capital on territory is evident here, whereby investment in Azerbaijan’s post fossilfuel economy is manifested spatially through the proposed redevelopment plans. Two major forces currently shape these islands. First, economic force, which includes both the continued extraction of capital in the form of oil and gas from one field and a transition towards accumulation in the form of real estate in another. Secondly, ecological force, which encompasses both the manufacturing of artificial landscapes into the Caspian Sea and the destruction of land due to a degraded ecosystem and sea-level rise. In addition to constructing an urban historiography of the islands, this thesis articulates a possible future for each island and presents an urban-spatial, socio-political critique of how the state has been exploiting these forces in the past and will possibly do so in the future. The thesis argues that the most effective medium for engagement in the transformation of Baku is through the circulation of counter-images that challenge the false sense of utopia.

Gilded City Jan Casimir Advisor: Ana Miljacki; Readers: Mark Goulthorpe, Rebecca Sheehan

Brodsky and Utkin utilized paper architecture to subvert the dogmas of soviet ideology by instrumentalizing a form antithetical to existing power structures. Produced for the famous A+U (now JA+U) architectural competitions and often smuggled out of Soviet Union in secret, their drawings were acts of architectural dissidence.

Gilded City appropriates seven copper plate etchings produced by Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin between 1982 and 1990 in the pursuit of their preservation through reinterpretation and recontextualisation. Gilded City reacts to the political events in the United States of the past six months. It anchors Brodsky and Utkin’s works into specific geographical locations in order to support its political commentary as well as in order to open up these works to new audiences through the use of social media. Gilded City explores the potential of architectural animation as a tool for both design and representation as well as (anti) propaganda while making use of traditional cel animation, 2D Vector based animation, 3D computer animation, as well as motion graphics.

In a (dis)similar act of subversion, Gilded City reinterprets this paper architecture into architectural animation, a medium that has historically lacked critical dimension, as a powerful tool of (anti) propaganda. Anachronistically transposing Brodsky and Utkin’s etchings into the contemporary moment and North American context, the film makes use of multiple forms of animation to propose five political-spatial archetypes of the Trump regime, each constituting one chapter of Gilded City: Tower, Golf Course, Wall, Casino, and Prison. The thesis stakes a claim for the timely relevance of Brodsky and Utkin’s body of work to contemporary architectural and socio-political discourse while also arguing for the legitimacy and critical instrumentality of animation in architectural design. Furthermore, Gilded City proposes that architectural animation can occupy a more significant and critical role both in architectural practice and pedagogy.

In 1978, disenchanted with the bleak prospect of the faceless, unadorned, utilitarian architectural doctrine of the Brezhnev and Khrushchev years, Brodsky and Utkin began to produce fantastical landscapes and structures in exquisite, detailed, labored drawings. Imaginative, whimsical, subversive, their body of work freely referenced historical precedents ranging from Greek mythology to eighteenth-century architects.


Computing with Matter, Shapes and Forces: Toward Material and Structural Primacy in Architecture Jonathan Dessi-Olive Advisors: John Ochsendorf, George Stiny

This thesis is motivated by my interest in addressing contemporary issues in architecture and design through historic and constructive inquiry. My contention is that by working with a compression-only material and constructive constraints, there is a possibility to develop a way of working that only produces build-able designs. This project is not about designing compression-only structures; rather it proposes to design with them. A new structural algebra—characterized by equilibrium constraints—can be specified that permits architects and designers to work visually and non-deterministically with material and structural primacy—to feel the forces in shapes. By extracting rules from historic buildings, it is possible to produce creative yet build-able designs that expand the capacity of what architects design and how buildings are constructed in the future.

This thesis takes a critical approach toward technology and proposes a slow computation methodology as means of working between traditional architectural media: drawing and masonry construction. Working this way offers a means of designing masonry structures that bares on contemporary disciplinary concerns by showing how designing within the constraints of a masonry arch does not have to be mechanical or deterministic; rather, it can be open-ended, imaginative, and creative. Although the proposed methodology does not extend to realizing the designs, it suggests there is the possibility to construct anything using the algebra due to the way the rules are established with equilibrium constraints. Furthermore, learning to compute design with matter, shapes, and forces, brings to light the relationship between current design technologies and methods, and the necessity to make breakthroughs in techniques of assembly and construction.


Comparative Urban Performance Simulations Jamie Farrell Advisors: Miho Mazereeuw, Christoph Reinhart

This research is concerned with applying environmental urban performance analysis methods to comparative urban master planning. Using bottom-up physics-based urban simulation algorithms, the author established a repeatable methodology for computationally analyzing and comparing urban environments. Conditions simulated included: individual building operational energy use; floor-by-floor spatial daylight autonomy; and site-wide occupant mobility. The study area is the Interstate 195 redevelopment site in Providence, Rhode Island. Four historic master planning documents were sampled from 1992 to 2012. The predominate instrument for

geometric modeling and simulation was the MIT Urban Modeling Interface. The methodology proposed in this study provides both a specific framework of values for performance optimization in Providence as well as a more general framework for the automation of urban simulations in disparate regions. Results from this experiment were processed using custom instrumentation, built using web-based network architecture, to provide rapid result visualization and an interactive urban data display. The research concludes by proposing a new architecture of urban system modeling.


Linking Design to Finance: Enabling a Co-Operative Developer Platform through Automated Design and Valuation Daniel Fink Advisor: Mark Goulthorpe; Readers: David Geltner, Rafi Segal

Significant shifts in technology and finance are altering the practice and position of urban design and development. These shifts—the torrent of micro-spatialized data, the amplification of designer instrumentality through computation, and the financialization of built capital into abstract securities—form a new relational infrastructure propelling the production of the built environment. Currently, coupling these shifts together remains the specialty of well-capitalized and sophisticated institutions, but the march of technological progress forecasts the widespread democratization of urban development skills and knowledge. This thesis explores the potential outcomes from mass accessibility to urban data, design computation, and digitized financing. I present a series of patent propositions outlining design methods that produce network effects through collectivelyfinanced, mass-distributed projects. The patents are then deployed in a project for three neighborhoods of New York City, on three-dozen sites, for one-thousand inhabitants. In the patents, I describe three design computation processes. The first is a method for the automated re-massing of urban typologies using procedural scripting and a geometry constraint engine in order to achieve open-space and density targets. The second is the automated valuation of a real estate development project using projected cash flows and construction cost estimations. Lastly, the third is an optimization method to match suites of sites, projectmassings, and financing arrangements, where I demonstrate the ability for the inhabitants’ spatial needs to be met within financial constraints. Assuming that these technologies will be in widespread use evokes a vision for clusters of households to collectively originate, fund, and construct networks of mutually co-dependent developments. With the ability to operationalize a co-ownership model of distributed live-work spaces, self-organizing groups will have a dramatically expanded capability to influence the design and use of urban fabric—in practice, a Lefebvrian ‘right to the city’. 20

Quranic Epigraphy of the Taj Mahal Rio Fischer Advisor: James Wescoat; Reader: Nasser Rabbat

This thesis examines the Quranic epigraphic program of the Taj Mahal. Following the 1989 Wayne E. Begley & Ziyaud-Din A. Desai book Taj Mahal: an Illustrated Tomb, the flourish of scholarship that would expectedly follow a complete epigraphical catalog never arrived. Despite being well-known and universally cherished as indicated by the Taj Mahal’s recognition as a UNESCO world heritage monument and as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, there is insufficient research directed towards the epigraphic program specifically. In order to focus the scope of the project, I employ a phenomenological methodology, using a typical visit to approach the most salient, prominent inscriptions. I argue that the epigraphic program operates on three distinct,

hierarchical registers: aesthetic, symbolic, then denotative. Furthermore, I argue that the inscriptions hint towards a prescribed way to approach the site. The writing follows the path of a visitor to the site. Approaching from the south, the study marks the calligraphic inscriptions as they relate to the phenomenological experience of the site. I address questions pertaining to the prominence and readability of the text and the relation between textual and decorative elements. Furthermore, the relationship between aesthetic form of the inscriptions to their semiotic functions features prominently. From the entrance gate, the writing follows a visitor as she approaches the mausoleum, circumambulates the dome, enters the mausoleum, then exits.


Mahjong, Factory Town 2.0 Urban Regeneration of a Socialist Factory Town in West China Junjiao Gan Advisors: Brent D. Ryan, Rafi Segal; Readers: Suqi Gao, Xi Qiu, Victor Sanz

This thesis explores urban design strategies for the regeneration of a Socialist factory town, Chengdu CSR, in Chengdu, China. A socialist factory town in China is an urban composition of both municipal and manufacturing functions; it is a top-down system in the control of the central government in order to execute its economic and social policies directly. Factory towns are established in many different economic sectors, including agriculture, military control, steel, oil, and machinery from the 1950s. The establishment of socialist factory towns industrialized the region and brought in millions of people from the eastern and northern China. However, most of factory towns encountered a severe decline in the 1990s. Many of them became blackouts in the city. Through research on the politics, design, and economic development of factory towns, I conclude that the three design principles of factory towns: monumentality, mono-function zoning and 2D design, created a spatial and operational system that could not fulfill the flexibility and diversity required by rising service industry and technology-based enterprises. It is the underlying reason for the decline of factory towns.

Both as a criticism and an alternative methodology, this thesis proposes a 4D Design Model that overlays and intersects different functions and typologies in order to obtain urbanity and temporality in the regeneration plans. Inspired by and named after the local cultural element, Mahjong, this 4D Design Model is further developed into a major urban strategy which intersects bands of residential, commercial, business, nature, university and historic heritage functions on the site generating unprecedented and critical urban and architectural typologies. This strategy shifts the previous linear manufacturing factory to be an urban cluster, Factory Town 2.0, which accelerates the connections and interactions between Chengdu Institute of Technology, Chengdu CSR, original equipment manufacturers (OEM), hundreds of startups and medium-size enterprises (SME) in order to provide creative products or solutions to more customized needs. In addition, the collision and overlay of different functions creates a dynamic urban environment closely knit with surrounding communities and in which diverse events occur spontaneously throughout the day.


2D Multimaterial Printing—Minus the Printer: A Novel Biofabrication Method for Creating Scalable 2D Geometries using UV Responsive Genetic Circuits in Bacteria Gizem Gumuskaya Advisors: George Stiny, Ron Weiss; Reader: Terry Knight

In nature, multicellular systems create shapes and structures based on computational dialogs between their constituent cells. As the rules of computation are encoded in these cells’ genomes, the ability to read and edit DNA and the tools of synthetic biology gives us the opportunity to re-design these cell-to-cell communications and direct them to desired ends. Can this opportunity of steering morphogenetic processes enable us to develop carbon-negative fabrication methods using living cells? In this thesis, I argue that we can create on-demand, scalable shapes and structures with living cells by harnessing their innate computational capacity for form-generation. Accordingly, I introduce a biofabrication method where any 2D shape can be created using bacteria with an implemented synthetic DNA circuit (1). I designed and built these DNA circuits using cell-to-cell communication genes extracted from a marine bacteria Vibrio fischeri (2), and UV responsive genes extracted from the virus λ Phage. As a result, this system enables us to “draw” any 2D shape, in any scale, onto a lawn of bacteria using a UV beam that is similar to a

laser cutter’s UV beam, though with much less intensity (100mJ/m2). User’s specification of the shape’s edges with a UV beam happens in the order of seconds, and the rest of the fabrication workflow proceeds with the bacterial cells communicating to one another and autonomously filling in this shape with the biomaterial of choice. Such independence from an external form giving equipment guarantees the sustainability of this biofabrication method when production is scaled into mass fabrication, which is not the case with other current biofabrication methods, such as molding. 1: The entirety of the circuit I designed and built as a part of my thesis project. Black boxes represent genes, which interact with one another as shown with red arrows, and generate feedback-based complex behavior. 2: Synthetic cell-to-cell communication mechanism between two bacterial colonies (E. coli). Colony on the left (composed of “sender” cells) transmit a signal, into which the colony on the right (composed of ”receiver cells”) respond by expressing a green fluorescent protein. This output can be changed to any protein of desire thanks to the modular nature of the genetic circuits used in synthetic biology.


Planning a Sectarian Topography: Revisiting Michel Ecochard’s Masterplans for Beirut 1941–1964 Ali Khodr Advisor: Nasser Rabbat; Readers: Hashim Sarkis, James Wescoat

Scholarly discourse around the work of French architect and urban planner Michel Ecochard in the early days of the Lebanese nation state frames his masterplans for the capital Beirut as modernist tools for an ailing urban agglomeration, without considering the possible ramifications these plans could have had on the social and sectarian structure of the city. Throughout the scope of this thesis, I will present a re-reading of Ecochard’s work, detailing how he introduces an urbanity of social integration in a sectarian city rife with sporadic acts of urban violence. I will also argue that Ecochard’s planned interventions are based on a careful reading of Beirut’s socio-political and economic divisions following Lebanon’s independence in the 1940’s, and throughout the nation-building era in the 1960’s. By studying and analyzing Ecochard’s personal archives, notes and drawings, I maintain that Ecochard’s plans for the city reflect his vision for the peaceful integration of communi-

ties by promoting access, functionality, and the articulation of communal public spaces, rather than viewing the plans solely as the agents of urban modernization. Reflecting upon the broader discourse of Ecochard’s planning initiatives across Lebanon at the time, I seek to position the architect/ planner within the shifting political contexts of post-independence Lebanon. I also address the nuances experienced by Ecochard as he attempts to intervene on Beirut within two spatial and temporal moments. In the first moment, Ecochard is concerned with planning a colonially inherited city. The second moment occurs at a time when Beirut becomes an economicallydriven safe haven, coinciding with the presence of a nationalist political agency attempting to restructure Beirut with the intention of strengthening social and urban integration. The similarities and discrepancies surrounding the shifting architectural and urban dynamics between the 1941 and 1963 Plans are key to this study.


A Digital Archival Platform for East Asian Geometric Patterns Hunmin Koh Advisor: Takehiko Nagakura; Readers: Erik Demaine, George Stiny

Geometric patterns contain the essence of a culture in its most abstract form. In East Asia, the “geummun� type of geometric pattern is used to decorate building surfaces and to create religious spectacles. However, the construction of the geummun pattern has never been formally researched. In this study, I propose a framework that will streamline the design and archiving of geummun patterns for the fabrication of physical objects based on these patterns. I conduct a design analysis to better understand the geometric construction of geummun

patterns. Based on this analysis, I propose a web-based platform allowing for easy archiving and reproduction of existing geummun patterns with streamline fabrication processes that are suitable for reinterpreting the patterns into contemporary design elements. In creating a web-based platform that allows easy access to geummun patterns for both researchers and the general public, I propose that this study can facilitate inter-country discussions and cultural exchange related to geometric patterns.


A Curriculum on the Fabrication of Clouds Lucy Siyao Liu Advisors: Mark Goulthorpe, Gediminas Urbonas; Reader: Peter Galison

To draw clouds is inherently a paradoxical act, yet artists and scientists have drawn skies for millennia, setting themselves up for failure as soon as they made a solid mark. Cloud depiction is an extreme case in representational systems — drawn schemas for cloud depiction are simultaneously tools for experiments and experimental drawings. As writer Marcel Beyer states aptly, ‘if you devote yourself to clouds and their study, you’re lost’, unless ‘one changes perspective and regards nephology itself as the laboratory - as one of the 19th century’s great laboratories of poetic and artistic theory.’ Nephology, the science of clouds and its visual methodologies, is a model for designing exact measures for inexact subjects. A Curriculum on the Fabrication of Clouds is a collection of drawing experiments framed as pedagogical acts. It consists of three lectures on the drawing theories of Masanao Abe, Alexander Cozens, and John Constable; a series of computational drawings addressing analogicity and digitality; a workbook documenting methodology; and an architectural move. A Curriculum is a demonstrative case for drawing as research and a view into designer-experimenters who research through drawing (and inevitably, research drawing). Representation, a fundamental topic across many disciplines, is an invaluable contemporary educational medium.


Biologically-Inspired, High-Performance Envelope Design in Tropical Climates Liz McCormick Advisors: Sheila Kennedy, John Ochsendorf; Readers: Salmaan Craig, Leon Glicksman

Removed from bioclimatic design and vernacular styles, modern buildings have become merely icons, symbolic of man’s victory over nature —evident in the rapid escalation of global emissions and fossil fuel consumption. As tropical regions face unprecedented growth, this thesis looks to the physiological adaptations of tropical plants to identify façade design strategies that reduce or eliminate the need for air conditioning in hot-humid regions. Using the dynamic stressors of tropical climates as a source of free energy, this work hypothesizes that the abundant latent energy found in tropical climates can be used to power discernable thermal change in unconditioned spaces. Using environmental cues to trigger non-linear events, plants can change observable characteristics in response to even small changes in external stimuli. This research questions how extreme differentials at the façade

can promote change in interior environments. Using infrared photography to understand the thermal response of tropical plants under environmental stress, plus an extensive review of plant physiology, this thesis explores variability, directionality and space as strategies for building enclosure systems. Given the innate ability of porous materials to change characteristics in different environments, materials are manipulated to control directional vapor drive in ways that benefit interior thermal comfort. To explore the hygrothermal behavior of potential enclosure materials and assemblies, the author constructed a custom tabletop hotbox, which is easily and affordably replicable compared to commercial applications. Through extensive testing and biological translation, the result is a repeatable process to explore natural phenomena and choreograph moisture drive in building materials, as inspired by plant biology.


Human Being Architecture: Extrusion Printing ‘Post-Mordial’ Memorial Artifacts of Formally Encoded Genetic Information Kris Menos Advisor: William O’Brien Jr.; Reader: Mark Jarzombek

This thesis speculates that common funerary Through a series of speculative models, practices do not reflect a wide enough range this thesis projects a scenario in which a group of contemporary cultural attitudes towards of humans embrace their corporeal materiality religion, spirituality, and mortality. As human and its internalized information as precious and beings increasingly embrace the paradigms of sacred to produce memorial artifacts that are bioinformatics and digital fabrication, this thesis constructed from their own biomatter, and that proposes that alternative funerary practices formally encode streams of genetic informawill arise to reflect these cultural attitudes, with tion. The artifacts become ‘post-mordial’ individuals taking on increasing levels of both entities of human being, existing as totems of personal and collaborative agency in the design their lineage, and ‘momento mori’ for remainof their own memorial artifacts, and those of ing humans. their loved ones.


Submergence as Emergence: Expanding Social Waterscapes in a Shrinking City Milan Outlaw Advisors: Brent D. Ryan, Rafi Segal; Reader: Antonio Furgiuele

This thesis seeks to reclaim spaces of urban disinvestment by developing alternative forms of contact and connectivity across urban water systems. Framing water as a mode of gathering, this project connects myriad urban realities, peoples, and practices. Alternative forms of linkages provide users an opportunity to disrupt systems of power and inequities that have worked to uphold decades of urban injustice, class isolation, and racial segregation. This is most necessary in socially marginalized spaces, where social cohesion is often fractured or nonexistent. Such is the case in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a once flourishing industrial city founded at the confluence of three rivers on the shores of Lake Michigan. The city’s water network was once vital to the growth and livelihood of the city, as a port, a live blood of its vibrant industries, and for transportation and recreation. The city’s seemingly public water network today is hyperpoliced and inaccessible to a large demographic, due to the city’s history of segregation.

In the last decades of the twentieth century, as industries vanished, the city was left waning—its remaining businesses and amenities rapidly declined and urban decay spread, creating inequality, unemployment, and segregation. Those hit hardest were people of color— African Americans and Latinos—often unable to escape the unimaginable systemic conditions. Acknowledging the existence of these communities and spaces, this thesis asks: How can design respond to inequalities created by urban systems and how might water be used a means of democratization? Visualizing new terrains of navigating and reimagining the city, this design proposes to submerge fallows and voids within the city and create a canal network in their place. In doing so, this work offers new ways of imagining river recreation and links leftover areas via a third space—the network of water passages. Creating socially relevant third spaces allows for unstructured interaction and engagement across social and cultural differences, socially binding marginalized spaces and peoples.


Observing the Observer: A New Methodology for the Study of Drawing and Seeing Ege Ozgirin Advisors: Terry Knight, Patrick Winston; Reader: Pawan Sinha

One way of understanding how people make sense of design activities is understanding how people see. I took a step towards this understanding by examining how people divide a visual event and how this process relates to their perception of that event. Specifically, I studied human subjects who observed drawing events and analyzed how they parsed these events into coherent pieces. I conducted experiments in order to identify regularities out of the data provided by the observers. I gathered and analyzed observer data with the software I developed. The

analysis proved that there are salient regularities across interpretations of different subjects. Moreover, I show that the developed methodology can be used to document how individual interpretations change over time. This documentation allows researchers to exercise new ways of looking at the cognitive data and to compare their own interpretations against the data provided by the observers. I further discuss the implications of this study to the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and design research.


Boullée’s Forgotten Fountain: The Redesign of the Bibliothèque du Roi, 1785 Nicholas A. Pacula Advisor: Mark Goulthorpe; Readers: Edward Eigen, Mark Jarzombek

In the mid-1780’s a mature Etienne-Louis Boullée (1728-1799) was commissioned to redesign the royal library of the French monarchy. His proposal was expressed through twenty-six architectural drawings, but the scheme was never built. These drawings were among the last that the French architect produced. Shortly after his death Boullée fell into obscurity and remained largely unknown well into the twentieth century. He was resurrected by historians Emil Kaufmann, Helen Rosenau and Jean-Marie Pérouse de Montclos. Their publications feature only modest written synopses of the redesign of the Bibliothèque du Roi. Scholarship has since canonized these synopses. Today’s historians generally agree that Boullée produced three unique elevation drawings depicting the library’s primary facade and new entrance. Each drawing is recognized as a distinct yet equally feasible alternative. In this thesis I propose that only two of the three elevation drawings correspond to the library’s primary facade. I assert that the third eleva-

tion drawing—the one depicting twin figures of Atlas—was intended to be situated opposite the library’s new entrance and conceived to frame an urban place and house a public fountain. This thesis demonstrates that in our haste to allegorize Boullée’s unbuilt redesign of the Bibliothèque du Roi we failed to adequately interrogate the architectural drawings he produced. In this thesis I unearth drawn and built architectural artifacts evidencing Boullée’s forgotten fountain. My method of inquiry hypothesizes that the same discursive tools can be used to both produce and critically interrogate orthographic drawings. The practice of search in this thesis yields discovery, not through the investigation of an historical work of architecture as it relates to history, but rather through the investigation of a set of drawings as they relate to design. Elevation Drawing, Credit: Bibliothèque Nationale of France.


Ludus Ex Machina: Toward Computational Play Scott Penman Advisor: Terry Knight; Reader: George Stiny

Artificial intelligence, as the pinnacle of computational achievement, is rapidly becoming ubiquitous. It is employed to some extent in almost every professional field, and the day is not far off when autonomous, intelligent computational agents will be widespread in creative industries such as architecture and design. As such, it is critical that we imbue our creative computational machines with the same tools and freedoms that designers utilize. Art and design, however, are often tasked with pushing the envelope in the quest for novel meaning and experience. Designers can’t always rely upon existing models to judge their work. Doing so requires a curious and open mind, a willingness to eschew reward and occasionally break the rules, and a desire to explore for the sake of exploring.

These behaviors fly in the face of traditional implementations of computation, and raise difficult questions about the autonomy and subjectivity of artificially intelligent machines. This thesis proposes computational play as a field of research covering how and why designers roam as freely as they do, what the creative potential is of such exploration, and how such techniques might responsibly be implemented alongside traditional artificial intelligence methodologies. The work argues that autotelism is an essential aspect of play and outlines how it can be incorporated in a computational framework. The thesis also demonstrates an autonomous proof-of-concept drawing machine that is able to plot a drawing, view the drawing, and make decisions based on what it sees, bringing computational vision and computational drawing together into a cyclical process that permits the use of autotelic play behavior.

The drawing machine follows an iterative cycle of drawing and seeing, which allows for the interjection of play behavior.


NeverMind: An Interface for Human Memory Augmentation Oscar Rosello Advisors: Terry Knight, Pattie Maes, Patrick Winston

If we are to understand human-level intelligence, we need to understand how memories are encoded, stored, and retrieved. In this thesis, I take a step towards that understanding by focusing on a high-level interpretation of the relationship between episodic memory formation and spatial navigation. On the basis of the biologically inspired process, I focus on the implementation of NeverMind, an augmented reality (AR) interface designed to help people memorize effectively. Early experiments conducted with a prototype of NeverMind suggest that the long-term memory recall accuracy of sequences of items is nearly tripled compared to paper-based memorization tasks. For this thesis, I suggest that we can trigger episodic memory for tasks that we normally associate with semantic memory by using interfaces to passively stimulate the hippocampus, the entorhinal cortex, and the neocortex. Inspired by the methods currently used by

superior memorizers and memory champions, NeverMind facilitates memory encoding by engaging in hippocampal activation and promoting task-specific neural firing. NeverMind pairs spatial navigation with visual cues to make memorization tasks effective and enjoyable. The contributions of this thesis are twofold: first, I developed NeverMind, a tool to facilitate memorization in a single exposure by biasing our perceptual system into using episodic memory. When studying, we tend to use semantic memory and encoding through repetition. However, by using interfaces we can manipulate how our brain encodes information and memorize long term content with a single exposure. NeverMind makes a memory champion technique accessible to anyone. Second, NeverMind provides an open-source platform for researchers to conduct high-level experiments on episodic memory and spatial navigation.


Undivided Infrastructure: Strategies for Urban Growth in the Haitian/Dominican Border Luisa de Lucena Schettino Advisor: Rania Ghosn; Reader: James Wescoat

The uneven and underexplored landscape of the border zone between Haiti and the Dominican Republic has become a promising frontier for capital accumulation. Dependent upon cheap labor, the expansion of free trade zones along the border rapidly has intensified internal migration on the Haitian side. Investments in affordable housing are at the core of planning strategies to accommodate population displacement, yet urban infrastructures are unable to keep up with the fast pace of informal growth. At the border, water supply and sanitation is a pressing issue, since the pollution and depletion of shared waters increases the possibility of conflict.

This thesis looks at the most populous border crossing in the island to anticipate strategies for the less urbanized border towns. The proposal uses housing as an opportunity to support an alternative agenda, in which strategies for water harvesting, storage, and treatment are the backbone for defining the sites of urban density and openness. The project takes advantage of an architectural approach to infrastructure to move from the systematic, anonymous, and generic design to a cultural and humanized experience of infrastructures of water. The result is a flexible framework that operates as a common denominator to support a collective, equitable future.


Performative Experiments: Practicing the Malleability of an Aesthetic and Spatial Sense of Self Akshita Sivakumar Advisor: Mark Goulthorpe; Readers: Morana Alac, Terry Knight

This thesis contends that basic architectural design training requires malleable aesthetic and spatial sensibilities which in turn can cultivate a pliable and multiple sense of self. “A sense of self ” here draws on William James and Ulric Neisser’s plural ways of conceiving and knowing oneself through self-knowledge, self-consciousness and self-agency, all of which combine to motivate our actions in the world. “Aesthetic," borrows from Mark Johnson’s definition of constituting the patterns, images, feelings, qualities, and emotions by which meaning is possible for us in every aspect of our lives. “Spatial” captures the ways in which we situate and orient the self in the world. How we are trained to perceive, apprehend, cogitate, examine, reflect, record, and practice these sensibilities guides how we piece together our experiences in the world as a series of aesthetic and spatial fragments. I argue that the cultivation of multiple and changeable attributes of the self is prescient and relevant to fields beyond design, and second that the site of cultivation lies beyond the mind. I build a case that these two contentions pick up on recent waves in situated and embodied cognition and posthuman discourse; each has reclaimed the body and the non-human respectively as extended sites of perception and cognition. Posthumanism, borrowing from the physicist and feminist theorist Karen Barad, extends agency to the nonhuman by blurring the boundary between human and nonhuman.

Both situated cognition and posthumanism engender new aesthetic and spatial abilities, which capture the multiplicity and malleability of the self. In order to productively instrumentalize their common findings for a wide audience, we need new methodologies that escape individual disciplinary silos which proliferate canons and inhibit the creation of common ground. Design has the ability to subsume the motivations of various fields in order to develop these methodologies. I employ the methods of cognitive science and posthuman discourse in order to make visible their pursuits, knit together their underlying values, and frame their common calls as design problems. Through this, I develop a new methodology called the Performative Experiment that primes the malleability of aesthetic and spatial sensibilities by estranging one from canons and rote moves. Like parkour for the imagination, displacing the center of thought from the mind into the surroundings that are appropriated as an extension of self, performative experiments arrest the spatial and aesthetic aptitudes growing out of a malleable sense of self. I present the shadow and shaded silhouette as materials with which to engage these priming methodologies. I present Hogarth’s Silhouettes as a proof of concept of a foundational experiment in design education. My claim is that the experiment puts into play a malleable aesthetic and spatial sense of self in order to create a new form of design thinking and doing across disciplines.


Augmented Materials: Towards Reconnecting Bits of Mind and Atoms of Hand Yasaman Tahouni Advisors: Terry Knight, Stefanie Mueller; Reader: Skylar Tibbits

Physical interaction with material is a source of embodied design knowledge in the process of creative design. Through bodily engagement with material during “making”, the integration of thinking and doing—or mind and hand— results in generating iterative design solutions. While CAD/CAM technologies have brought various benefits to the design process such as data analysis, speed, and accuracy, their lack of physical and material interaction has been a significant defect. In order to overcome the separation of design and making in the context of digital technologies, we need to rethink the interfaces by which we interact with digital world. I propose Augmented Materials—defined as materials embedded with digital and computational capabilities—to fill the gap between physical and digital worlds and re-connect design and making. By embedding sensors, lightweight actuators, microcontrollers, and electronic circuitry directly within material, we can achieve an integrated system that can sense user interaction, implement computation, and respond through transformations in its physical properties. In this way, while designers can

engage in a hands-on interaction with the physical material, they can take advantage of features of digital technologies such as computation, fast interaction, reversible operations, and precision. I continue this thesis by introducing a case study on Augmented Materials called NURBsForm. NURBsForm is an Augmented Material that enables designers to design and make NURBs curves and free-form surfaces through a digitally-augmented material. NURBsForm is an attempt to realize a “transformable matter” that can change its physical form in response to underlying “Bits”. A user’s bodily interaction will be sensed by the embedded sensors, processed and mapped to the output data, and presented through the actuation of material. Through digital augmentation, the “making” process is enhanced by providing computational functions such as Save, Load, Undo and Redo to the physical material. I conclude this work by reviewing the possible applications of NURBsForm in the field of architectural design as well as broader spectrum of human-computer interaction and establish a path for its future development.


Computing Cognitive Diversity: A Theoretical Framework for Creative Thinking Dishita Turakhia Advisors: George Stiny, Patrick Winston; Readers: Terry Knight, Ethan Zuckerman

This thesis is a theoretical inquiry into frameworks of creative problem solving. I propose that if we consider that thoughts are shapes and ideas are spatial relations between shapes, then creative problem solving can be explained computationally using shape grammar. The goal of this project is to highlight how the static nature of current frameworks fails to accommodate for the dynamic nature of human creative thinking. I claim that two important features, cognitive diversity and interaction between cognitively diverse individuals, lead to epiphany (the “aha� moment) during creative problem solving. I present a comprehensive overview of creative thinking and explain different types of creative processes. Through literary review, I explain how cognitive diversity, the ability to parse knowledge in different ways, contributes to creativity. I demonstrate how creative epiphanies emerge through social interaction between cognitively diverse individuals. I argue that both these features require frameworks to be dynamic for human-like (cognitively diverse) creative thinking. I explain how Shape Grammar has the ability to fluidly reform computation and thus

can be used to study and illustrate both cognitive diversity and interactive aspects of creative thinking. If we imagine thoughts as shapes and ideas as configurations of those shapes, cognitive diversity is rule sequence followed to generate those configurations from shapes. Interaction is the exchange of those sequences. The contributions of this research are threefold. First, I present a literature review of current frameworks, and identify the two gaps between machine and human creativity. Secondly, I demonstrate how shape grammar can provide the framework to fill those gaps of cognitive diversity and interaction. I also provide a literary background of Shape Grammar theory in context of design and design machines. Thirdly, I propose the thought-shape framework that adapts principles of shape grammar for computational creative thinking. Left: What do you see? A face or a woman? Right: Cognitive Diversity: Parsing the same information in different ways. Source: news/newstopics/howaboutthat/3520448/OpticalIllusions-the-top-20.html?image=19.


The Openness Within Walls: Reshaping the Gated Campus Xiang Xu Advisors: Brent D. Ryan, James Wescoat; Reader: Tunney Lee

Modern Chinese university campuses have traditionally been planned as walled enclosures, according to the danwei system. In 2016, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, jointly with the State Council, passed the “Opinions on Strengthening the Management of Urban and Planning Construction,� which states that all existing gated compound units must be gradually planned with open boundaries. Taking this new policy into account, this thesis rethinks urban design strategies for campuses, which are commonly gated due to social, economic, and historical factors in metropolitan areas of China. This thesis investigates the relationship between the university campus and the city by examining a campus’ design principles.

After three decades of rapid urbanization, China has now entered a stage where pre-planned walled urban enclosures do not provide adequate amenities within, and are segregated from one another. Among gated communities, campuses have great potential and obligation to be transformed into open street blocks given their strategic locations, educational and entrepreneurial resources and facilities. This thesis questions the wall in two ways: 1) a morphological analysis of walled cities where walls have been transformed and 2) an examination of architectures within the campus that interrogate the boundaries. The proposal will utilize a strategy abstracted from these two studies to reconsider the setting of the South China Normal University. 38

CAPITALIST REALISM: Making Art for Sale in Shanghai, 1999 Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell Advisor: Caroline Jones; Readers: Renée Green, Lauren Jacobi

The artist-instigated exhibition Art for Sale (1999), which partially operated as a fully functioning ‘art supermarket’ inside a large shopping mall, was one of the most important exhibitions that took place during the development of Shanghai’s experimental art-scene in the 1990s, a time when the influx of consumer capitalism was becoming a key mechanism of life in the city. Organized by the artist-curators Xu Zhen, Yang Zhenzhong and Alexander Brandt, the exhibition was divided into two sections, a supermarket and an exhibition space, and included 33 artists that were prompted to create a pair of works, one for each section. The supermarket section consisted of works that were at once art objects and commercial goods, many of them bizarre amalgamations of familiar household items, and visitors were able to selfselect “merchandise” to purchase; therefore, becoming “art consumers” for the first time in post-revolutionary China. Post-reform China was a uniquely volatile social and political environment; the failure of the 1989 social movement incentivized the rise of state-directed capitalism, and Deng Xiaoping was championing a new official ideology of the Communist Party of China, “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”, which doubled as a strategy to thwart the democratic movement of the time. Necessarily, the Shanghai art

scene of the 1990s must be seen in the context of these pro-consumerist state policies, as almost overnight, the state attempted to turn a nation of workers into a nation of consumers. This transition was rife with tension. An emerging ideology of consumerism had to be cleverly negotiated with and against a strong residual ideology of Mao-era policies and values. It was a historical moment of incredible flux and ideological hybridity where the necessary contradiction of “socialist capitalism” could take root. The Art for Sale exhibition was deftly self-reflexive about these permutable conditions of the late 1990s, and this thesis argues that it functioned as a way to worry the question of consumerism in China through making consumption into an aesthetic act; considering, challenging and even subverting the contingent future of capitalism that the state was trying to enact. Through the introduction of Capitalist Realism, an art historical movement begun by East German artists in 1960s West Germany, this thesis links Art for Sale with previous examples of artists using consumerism as an aesthetic strategy, arguing that Capitalist Realism can be used as an interpretive heuristic for understanding how conceptual art practices emerged in 1990s China as a critique of Western consumerism. Art for Sale, Shanghai Square, Shanghai, April 10, 1999.


Master of Science in Building Technology (SMBT)


Machine Learning Paradigms for Building Energy Performance Simulations Arfa Aijazi Advisor: Leon Glicksman

This research seeks to overcome a technical limitation of building energy performance simulations, the computation time, by using a machine learning technique, surrogate modeling, a class of machine learning techniques where the output is a performance metric. Though early machine learning methods were introduced decades ago, the convergence of computation power, more data collection, and maturation of methods has led to an explosion in the types of problems to which machine learning can be applied. The accuracy of different surrogate modeling techniques was assessed for single climate and multiple climates and were integrated with multi-objective optimization to make design recommendations. A comparison of several common surrogate modeling techniques found that parametric radial basis functions and Kriging were highly accurate regression techniques for predict-

ing building energy consumption. For a single climate, these regression techniques can predict the total energy consumption to within 2% of a detailed energy simulation, but in a fraction of a second, about five orders of magnitude faster. Integrating a Kriging surrogate model with multi-objective optimization allowed for finding retrofit recommendations in Lisbon that are cost effective and can reduce the present-day energy consumption of an existing apartment by up to 45%. Similarly, integrating surrogate modeling with multi-objective optimization can find retrofit options in Boston that can reduce the presentday energy consumption and unmet hours in the future. Combined, this body of works strives to add value to existing building energy performance simulation tools as more than just an exercise for code compliance but as a real design tool that can guide decision making. Schematic representation of surrogate modeling concept in one-dimension. Graph reproduced from Mueller, C. T. (2014). Computational Exploration of the Structural Design Space. MIT.

Integration of surrogate modeling with multiobjective optimization can find combinations of retrofit design variables that are energy efficient and cost effective.


Meeting Climate Targets for Major Carbon Emitters in the Middle East: The Role of Natural Gas and Renewable Technology Transitions Nourhan M. Bayomi Advisor: John E. Fernandez; Readers: Christoph Reinhart, Mandira Roy

Energy is a key ingredient to facilitate economic development in the Middle East. Expectations for a rapidly growing economy in the next decade will likely cause an increase in the fraction of energy consumed domestically, tumbling what is available for export. Rising living standards, energy-intensive urban expansion and mounting power demands compound the energy challenge in the Middle East. After Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, countries in the Middle East have committed to curb their GHG emissions and increase the deployment of renewable resources in power generation. As a result, the power sector has been under significant transitions driven by environmental policies and economic development. Currently, the power sector alone accounts for nearly 38% of the region’s GHG emissions and about 52% of total CO2 emissions. In addition, fossil energy resources account for 95% of total power generation. Thus, development of the power sector that is coupled with low-carbon generation technologies is critical to the security of power supply and the achievement of climate change goals.

The thesis explores the role of the power sector in the Middle East in reducing CO2 emissions under the 450-emission scenario developed by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The focus is given to four countries, namely Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, who constitute around 76% of the region’s power-related CO2 emissions. Accordingly, the main objective is to examine current power generation policies to assess their contribution under 450-emission scenario and develop an optimal electricity generation scenario that satisfy emission goals in 2020 and 2030 using Mean Variance Portfolio Theory (MVP). Finally, results of the analysis are compiled and presented in an interactive web tool that allows users to have open access to energy data sets, graphically conduct country-tocountry comparisons, examine different power scenarios and assess emissions trajectories relative to the 450-emission target.


Structural Grid Shell Design with Islamic Pattern Topologies Noor K. Khouri Advisor: Caitlin Mueller

Geometric patterns, pioneered centuries ago as a dominant form of ornamentation in Islamic architecture, represent an abundant source of possible topologies and geometries that can be explored in the preliminary design of discrete structures. This diverse design space motivates the coupling between Islamic patterns and the form finding of funicular grid shells for which structural performance is highly affected by topology and geometry. This research examines one such pattern through a parametric, performance-driven framework in the context of conceptual design, when many alternatives are being considered.

Form finding is conducted via the force density method, which is augmented with the addition of a force density optimization loop to enable grid shell height selection. An additional modification allows for force densities to be scaled according to the initial member lengths, introducing sensitivity to pattern geometry in the final form-found structures. The results attest to the viable synergy between architectural and structural objectives through grid shells that perform as well as, or better than, conventional quadrilateral grid shells.


Modeling Urban Energy Supply Schemes Bradley Tran Advisor: Christoph Reinhart; Reader: Les Norford

Rapid urbanization places increased pressure on governments and cities to use economical, low-carbon energy supply strategies. Cities are responsible for approximately 75% of energy consumption and 80% of GHG emissions worldwide, and buildings make up the largest contribution. Energy use in the building sector can be reduced through two primary means: (1) by decreasing building energy demands through a combination of retrofits and commissioning

and (2) by increasing the efficiency of the energy supply systems. Traditionally, individuals have concentrated on either developing planning tools focused on the building demand or energy supply, but few have integrated both dimensions. This thesis details efforts to develop an integrated energy supply and demand analysis tool to help urban planners and designers evaluate and compare schemes to satisfy the electric, heating, and cooling demands of urban areas. Earth at Night. Source: https://www.nasa. gov/specials/blackmarble/2016/globalmaps/ BlackMarble_2016_3km.jpg.


Advisors & Readers: Azra Akšamija Morana Alac Lorena Bello Gomez Eve Blau Angelo Bucci Brandon Clifford Salmaan Craig Erik Demaine John Fernandez Edward Eigen Antonio Furgiuele Peter Galison Antón García-Abril Shuqi Gao David Geltner Rania Ghosn Leon Glicksman Mark Goulthorpe Renée Green Andrew Holder Lauren Jacobi Mark Jarzombek Caroline Jones Sheila Kennedy Terry Knight Joel Lamere Tunney Lee Miho Mazereeuw

Pattie Maes Ana Miljacki Caitlin Mueller Stephanie Mueller Takehiko Nagakura Les Norford William O’Brien Jr. John Ochsendorf Erik Olsen Cristina Parreño Xi Qui Nasser Rabbat Christoph Reinhart Mandira Roy Brent D. Ryan Victor Sanz Hashim Sarkis Rebecca Sheehan Pawan Sinha Rafi Segal George Stiny Skylar Tibbits Gediminas Urbonas Ron Weiss James Wescoat Patrick Winston J. Meejin Yoon Ethan Zuckerman

Special Thanks 2017 Thesis Students, Faculty & Critics Kathaleen Brearley Irina Chernyakova Eduardo Gonzalez Anne Deveau Jim Harrington Lisa Hersh Duncan Kincaid Terry Knight Inala Locke

Ana Miljacki Tonya Miller Maria Moran Jesica Dunaway Nishibun Andreea O’Connell Jessica Pace Christoph Reinhart Kathleen Ross Cynthia Stewart J. Meejin Yoon

— Joie Chang Designing in Virtual Reality: Tools with the Human Field of Vision — Steven Albert Playspace for All: Inclusive Wayfinding Stefan Elsholtz Elemental Shelters for Nomads Nicolo Guida A Love Letter to the American Mall Jessica Jorge The Island the Day After: A New Experiment for Cuba Zhao Ma Halo: Re-forming Architectural Space with Light Caustics Meng Sun Mind’s Architecture — Alpha Arsano CLIMA+: An Early Design Method for Natural Ventilation Prediction Jie Bao Fables of Undiscovered Cities Garine Boghossian Making Waves: The Past Futures of Azerbaijan’s Islands Jan Casimir Gilded City Jonathan Dessi-Olive Computing with Matter, Shapes and Forces: Toward Material and Structural Primacy in Architecture Jamie Farrell Comparative Urban Performance Simulations Daniel Fink Linking Design to Finance: Enabling a Co-Operative Developer Platform through Automated Design and Valuation

Rio Fischer Quranic Epigraphy of the Taj Mahal

Scott Penman Ludus Ex Machina: Toward Computational Play

Junjiao Gan Mahjong, Factory Town 2.0: Urban Regeneration of a Socialist Factory Town in West China

Oscar Rosello NeverMind: An Interface for Human Memory Augmentation

Gizem Gumuskaya 2D Multimaterial Printing— Minus the Printer: A Novel Biofabrication Method for Creating Scalable 2D Geometries using UV Responsive Genetic Circuits in Bacteria

Luisa de Lucena Schettino Undivided Infrastructure: Strategies for Urban Growth in the Haitian/Dominican Border Akshita Sivakumar Performative Experiments: Practicing the Malleability of an Aesthetic and Spatial Sense of Self

Ali Khodr Planning a Sectarian Topography: Revisiting Michel Ecochard’s Masterplans for Beirut 1941–1964

Yasaman Tahouni Augmented Materials: Towards Reconnecting Bits of Mind and Atoms of Hand

Hunmin Koh A Digital Archival Platform for East Asian Geometric Patterns

Dishita Turakhia Computing Cognitive Diversity: A Theoretical Framework for Creative Thinking

Lucy Siyao Liu A Curriculum on the Fabrication of Clouds Liz McCormick Biologically-Inspired, HighPerformance Envelope Design in Tropical Climates Kris Menos Human Being Architecture: Extrusion Printing ‘Post-Mordial’ Memorial Artifacts of Formally Encoded Genetic Information Milan Outlaw Submergence as Emergence: Expanding Social Waterscapes in a Shrinking City Ege Ozgirin Observing the Observer: A New Methodology for the Study of Drawing and Seeing Nicholas A. Pacula Boullée’s Forgotten Fountain: The Redesign of the Bibliothèque du Roi, 1785

Xiang Xu The Openness Within Walls: Reshaping the Gated Campus Xiaorui Zhu-Nowell CAPITALIST REALISM: Making Art for Sale in Shanghai, 1999 — Arfa Aijazi Machine Learning Paradigms for Building Energy Performance Simulations Norhan M. Bayomi Meeting Climate Targets for Major Carbon Emitters in the Middle East: The Role of Natural Gas and Renewable Technology Transitions Noor K. Khouri Structural Grid Shell Design with Islamic Pattern Topologies Bradley Tran Modeling Urban Energy Supply Schemes

Profile for MIT Architecture

2017 Thesis Reviews  

Students from the Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BSA), Master of Architecture (MArch), Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMAr...

2017 Thesis Reviews  

Students from the Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BSA), Master of Architecture (MArch), Master of Science in Architecture Studies (SMAr...