Established in 1979 through an endowment from His Highness the Aga Khan, The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) at MIT is dedicated to the study of Islamic architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design, and conservation.
Labs & Centers
Current DUSP Initiatives + Projects
Faculty and students in the Department are working across the country and around the globe on projects, related to both research and practice. The embedded publications below describe many of them, organized into five key themes. For additional details and more comprehensive listing of projects or labs in the departmental, scroll down for a complete list.
You can also explore DUSP projects using DUSPEXPLORER.
The AgeLab invent new ideas and creatively translate technologies into practical solutions that improve people’s healthand enable them to “do things” throughout the lifespan. Equal to the need for ideas and new technologies is the belief that innovations in how products are designed, services are delivered, or policies are implemented are of critical importance to our quality of life tomorrow.
The Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) provides a home for faculty interested in collaborative research projects that will engage student participation. CAU is the umbrella for various existing research laboratories and faculty projects. It organizes collaborations between these labs and other MIT groups in order to foster a cross-disciplinary expertise.
MIT founded the Center for Real Estate (CRE) in 1983 to improve the quality of the built environment and to promote more informed professional practice in the global real estate industry. Educating the men and women whose innovations will serve the industry worldwide, the CRE is a home to the first-ever one year Master of Science in Real Estate Development (MSRED) degree, as well as an integrated suite of professional development courses.
The Changing Places group proposes that fundamentally new strategies must be found for creating the places where people live/work, and the mobility systems that connect these places, in order to meet the profound challenges of the future. We are developing technology to understand and respond to human activity, environmental conditions, and market dynamics.
The Civic Data Design Lab works with data to understand it for Public Good. We seek to develop alternative practices which can make the work we do with data and images richer, smarter, more relevant, and more responsive to the needs and interested of citizens traditionally on the margins of policy development.
The MIT Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) supports faculty and students to work with low-income and excluded people around the world, tapping their energy, creativity, and in-depth knowledge of the issues they face to tackle poverty, climate change, and mass urbanization. Launched in 2007, CoLab is a platform for faculty and student collaboration on field-based projects working with departments, laboratories, and centers across the Institute, supporting action research, while providing important resources to community leaders.
The Displacement Research & Action Network, an initiative of the Program on Human Rights and Justice at MIT, is a global network on displacement and land rights that brings together activists, academics and policy makers to build new theory and evidence of the increase and intensity of mass internal displacement around the world due to development, conflict, or climate disaster.
Engineering System Division – Infrastructure and Transportation address the challenge of improving the effectiveness of national infrastructures, including those providing electric power, transport, and communications. ESD research in the domain of critical infrastructures include cross-domain views; comparative architecture and the factors affecting them; new models that include both the technical and social complexities; and new, large-scale simulation techniques allowing the combination of quantitative and qualitative data.
Created in 2005 with support from the U.S. Geologic Service (USGS), the Science Impact Collaborative (formally MUSIC) is an extended program of action-research testing the proposition that, anywhere in the world, the right kind of stakeholder engagement in natural resource management can improve the fairness, efficiency, stability and scientific wisdom of collective decisions made in the public arena.
A research initiative that focuses on collaborative approaches, leveraging various analog and digital data collection and analysis tools, to mobilize a collective intelligence towards improved mobility conditions in a range of contexts around the world. We work with partners from around MIT and around the world, including: Megacities Logistics Laboratory, Intelligent Transportation Lab, TransitLab, BRT COE, SMART-FM, just to name a few. Learn more here.
The Organization for Permanent Modernity investigates operational templates of public form that integrate architecture, infrastructure, and landscape into elements of a lasting territorial order. Its hypothesis entails the possibility of a public reading of the territory through forms of permanence, while accommodating uncertainty and change within and around these interventions.
P-REX is a groundbreaking design research lab developing non-traditional design solutions to push the boundaries of conventional practice and incorporate resilient thinking into large-scale strategic planning & design.
The MIT Program on Human Rights and Justice (PHRJ) is a collaborative effort between the Center for International Studies and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. PHRJ aims to encourage the creation of a cutting-edge inter-disciplinary environment at MIT for research, teaching, curricular development and real-world application in human rights and justice. It has a broad focus that goes beyond human rights in the formal legal sense to encompass a variety of approaches to securing rights and justice in today’s world.
MIT has received one of the largest gifts in its history, from alumnus Samuel Tak Lee ’62, SM ’64, to establish a real estate entrepreneurship lab that will promote social responsibility among entrepreneurs and academics in the real estate profession worldwide, with a particular focus on China. The gift will fund fellowships to attract both U.S. and international students; will support research on sustainable real estate development and global urbanization; and will make the lab’s curriculum available online to learners worldwide via MITx.
The SENSEable City Laboratory's research focuses on studying and predicting how digital technology is changing the way we describe, design, and occupy cities.
Interconnected computational elements are increasingly saturating the built environment (whether small-scale mobile devices, or larger-scale infrastructural microprocessors). This new condition allows us to design technology that could function as an interface between people and the city.
The Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) program provides the opportunity for mid-career professionals who are or will be shaping policy in developing countries to further develop their planning and problem-solving capacities. Each academic year, 15 to 18 qualified individuals carry out a program of study and research focusing on the problems of urban and regional change within the broader context of development.
The Urban Economics Lab at MIT focuses on studying economic activity and economic trends in cities. The Lab uses analytical models and big data to understand what makes cities thrive or decline, how housing values are formed and oscillate, and how local politics and social phenomena manifest in the context of increasing global urbanization.
Operating as designers at the intersection of disaster management and risk engineering, hurricanes and earthquakes, ecology and infrastructure, rural and urban, research and action, the Urban Risk Lab is a cross-disciplinary organization of researchers and designers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology addressing the most challenging aspects of contemporary urbanization. The Urban Risk Lab is a place to research and innovate on technologies, techniques, materials, processes, and systems to reduce risk.
The West Philadelphia Landscape Project (WPLP), founded in 1987, is an action research program that links community development and environmental restoration. Among the key discoveries of the project is the high correlation between buried floodplains and vacant land in inner city neighborhoods.