PLAN 87: Article
Dean Adèle Naudé Santos to Step Down

Tenure Marked by Advances in Art, Academics and Urbanism

In January, Adèle Naudé Santos, dean of SA+P since 2004, announced her decision to step down in June. She will stay on the faculty of both the architecture and planning departments and remain deeply involved with the new Center for Advanced Urbanism while continuing work with her prize-winning architectural practice, Santos-Prescott.

Her tenure as dean has been marked by a notable increase in academic appointments – forty percent of the school’s current faculty was hired during her term, 38 percent have been tenured and 55 percent promoted. At the same time, interest in the school’s programs has risen dramatically – applications for the MArch and masters in MAS programs have both more than doubled; applications for the SMArchS program have risen by 85 percent and applications for the MCP program have risen by 70 percent.

The school has also been consolidated from a diaspora of six scattered locations to two dense concentrations in the Institute’s most visible sites – the Main Group along Massachusetts Avenue and Fumihiko Maki’s high-design complex near Kendall Square, which was brought to completion under budget and ahead of schedule during her tenure.

During her administration, Santos played a major role in elevating the arts at MIT. In 2010, she launched a new Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) focused on art as a research practice, the result of a merger between SA+P’s academic Visual Arts Program and its legendary Center for Advanced Visual Studies, a research program in visual arts for artists, engineers and scientists, established in 1967.

The following year, she took a leading role in MIT’s Festival of Art, Science and Technology, a high-profile part of the Institute’s sesquicentennial celebration that featured a series of architectural installations created by SA+P faculty and students popping up around the campus throughout the spring semester.

She was also instrumental in the establishment of MIT’s new Center for Art, Science and Technology in 2012, a joint initiative with the Office of the Provost and the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, designed to advance MIT’s leadership in integrating exploration in the arts with scientific and technological inquiry.

But her signature achievement was arguably the establishment of SA+P’s new Center for Advanced Urbanism in 2013, focused on the planning, design, construction and retrofitting of urban environments for the 21st century. The Center’s first major effort, a report produced last fall with the AIA on the state of health and urbanism in the United States, examined a series of public health matters in eight major cities, suggesting a wide array of possible remedies, from better mass transit to extensive tree-planting.

During all this time, she was also widely honored. In 2009, for example, she was recognized with the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education, given annually by the American Institute of Architects and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

Before her appointment as dean of SA+P, she was on the faculty of the UC/Berkeley College of Environmental Design, founding dean of the UC/San Diego School of Architecture and professor of architecture and urban design at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was also chair of the architecture department for six years. She has also taught at Harvard's Graduate School of Design and at Rice, and has held visiting appointments throughout the US and the world, including Italy and in her native South Africa.

Santos holds an AA Diploma from the Architectural Association in London and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard, as well as a Master of Architecture and a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. She has won an impressive number of awards and competitions all over the world, six of them in first place.

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This story is based in part on a report by Nate Nickerson in the MIT News Office. Read that story here.