Student Profile
Student Profile: Ana María León

Architecture as a Way to Understand Societies Past and Present


Guayaquil, Ecuador

Undergraduate Work

Architecture Diploma, Universidad Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil

Master’s Work

Master of Architecture, Georgia Tech COA
Master of Design Studies, Harvard University GSD
Degree Candidate PhD Candidate: History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture

Interest Area

Other modernities: alternative histories, paths not taken, unrealized plans, thwarted efforts--and the modernities of others: agency and production, political designs vs. theoretical agendas, mistranslations.

Thesis Topic

Southern Surrealisms: Buenos Aires, 1936-1956. I look at the development of a series of societies or collectives interested in surrealism, psychoanalysis, myth, totalitarianism, and language. Architects involved develop a fascinating set of projects indicative of exchanges across geographies, disciplines, and political divides.

Career Ambition

I’d like to create more awareness in the discipline and beyond on the importance of architecture as a way to both understand societies past and present – and affect them. Plus I love teaching, reading and writing about architecture, being paid to do it sounds like a good plan.

Why MIT?

The HTC group at MIT is not only academically rigorous and includes a broad range of interests, it is also incredibly collegial and welcoming – I feel very fortunate to be a part of it, and of having the opportunity to collaborate on projects that approach the history of architecture from different perspectives, outside canonical narratives.

That said, I came for HTC but fell in love with MIT—the steps by 77 Mass Ave, the students sitting on the empty pedestals at Lobby 7, wacky experiments at the infinite corridor, the hidden gardens, the unapologetic modernity of the campus, the wonderful connections between buildings, the List student loan art program, the robot skateboards and other student inventions, the Sol Le Witt floor at 6C, and the view of the Charles and the Boston skyline from the Media Lab.


’Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.’

– From 10 Rules for Students and Teachers by John Cage. Coming from a design background, I see a lot of similarities between designing and writing – basically you have to have a structure and an argument for things to stand.