Brent D. Ryan

Vice Provost and Professor of Urban Design and Public Policy

Brent D. Ryan is Vice Provost and Professor of Urban Design and Public Policy in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. His research focuses on the aesthetics and policies of contemporary urban design, particularly with respect to current and pressing issues like deindustrialization and climate change. Professor Ryan’s first book Design After Decline: How America Rebuilds Shrinking Cities, was selected by Planetizen as one of its ten best urban planning books of 2012, and his second book, The Largest Art, was published by MIT Press in 2017. Professor Ryan is the co-editor of the Journal of Planning History

Professor Ryan's research has been widely published, including the Journal of Urban Design, Journal of Urbanism, Journal of Planning History, which awarded his article “Will Kyiv’s Soviet Industrial Industrial Districts Survive?” its best article of 2019-21, Urban Design International, Urban Morphology, and the Journal of the American Planning Association, which awarded his article “Reading Through A Plan” its best article of 2011. Professor Ryan has also written numerous chapters for books including The Routledge New Companion to Urban Design; The City After Abandonment; Urban Landscape; The Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning; Rethinking Global Urbanism; and Urban Megaprojects: A Worldwide View.

Professor Ryan is currently conducting research in several countries around the world, including China, India, Ukraine, Japan, and the United States. In China, he is examining the urban design dimensions of emerging shrinking cities in the country’s Northeast, and the dimensions of gated communities in new town expansion projects. Professor Ryan recently completed a study of post-industrial Kyiv with the architectural, arts, and planning collective Urban Curators, and he also recently completed a study of sustainability in Siberian cities, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. In 2020 he initiated a study of post-industrial space along the Hooghly river in Kolkata, India, in partnership with local universities. Professor Ryan is currently conducting design and planning studies of shrinking cities, rural settlements, and regions in Italy and Japan. He is also initiating a new book project examining the intersection of tourism, mapping, and travel guides during the 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries.

Prior to joining MIT, Professor Ryan taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was also Co-Director of the City Design Center. Professor Ryan holds a B.S. in biology from Yale University, a M. Arch. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in urban design and planning from MIT.