MIT has announced plans to create a major interdisciplinary centre that it hopes will become a global hub for design research, thinking and entrepreneurship.
The MIT Morningside Academy for Design, which aims to foster collaboration and innovation on the MIT campus, will be housed in the School of Architecture and Planning.Projected to launch in September 2022, it will create and administer academic and research programs across MIT, especially between the School of Architecture and Planning and the School of Engineering. It will also provide a hub that will encourage design work at MIT to grow and cross disciplines among engineering, science, management, computing, architecture, urban planning and the arts.
‘The MIT Morningside Academy for Design will amplify the impact of MIT’s existing world-class programs in design,’ said MIT President L Rafael Reif. ‘It will dramatically enhance our ability to promote design education on our campus and elsewhere; to support our faculty and students in their daring endeavours; and to work with others to develop compelling solutions to humanity’s great challenges.’
By further integrating design into education and research, and by helping to bring creative, humanistic thinking to society’s biggest challenges, the academy aims to create new educational experiences in design for MIT students, enhance the capacity for research in creative fields and attract leading students and faculty in design disciplines.
‘Many great problems facing the world today cannot be tackled with only one discipline,’ said John Ochsendorf, a professor of architecture and of civil and environmental engineering, who will be the academy’s founding director. ‘We need thinkers who can not only be analytical in the best tradition of MIT but who can build connections and thereby find unexpected solutions. Fundamentally, this is about encouraging people to take risks across disciplines, to think both creatively and synthetically.’
‘Inherently, the act of designing something means you have to be creative, and it usually means you need to work with other people,’ said Maria Yang, associate dean in the School of Engineering, who will be the academy’s associate director. ‘Our vision is that the MIT Morningside Academy for Design will support students and faculty to explore the frontiers of design while convening people and producing this power of multiplication. It is the right moment to bring people together in this way. One of the main goals of the academy is to help our students be socially impactful as designers and to give them this orientation in their work.’
The academy will be housed in the Metropolitan Warehouse, which will eventually also become the new home of the Department of Architecture. The ‘Met’ will feature research labs, design studios, lecture halls and collaborative classrooms, makerspaces such as Project Manus, exhibition areas and space for engaging with both the community and industry.
‘Many of our students think of themselves as designers, whether they are mechanical engineers or urban planners or composers,’ Ochsendorf said. ‘The MIT Morningside Academy for Design creates a new community for us to elevate design across all of MIT, and to share best practices. At MIT we’ve always had a strong tradition of prototyping. If you have a design idea, you make it, break it, get feedback and iterate on it. The academy builds on our many design strengths, including the tradition of the maker culture at MIT.’