PLAN 74: Article
New Faculty: William O'brien, Jr.

Assistant Professor of Architecture

William O’Brien Jr. has been appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture. He joins the faculty this fall.

Since the fall of 2007, O’Brien has been teaching advanced design studios, theory seminars and visual communications courses in the graduate curriculum at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Previously, he held the Bernard Maybeck Fellowship at the UC/Berkeley College of Environmental Design where he taught design studios and conducted a graduate research seminar; he also held the Howard LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellowship at the Ohio State University Knowlton School of Architecture where he taught both graduate and undergraduate design studios.

'William O'Brien Jr. is possibly the first post-digital architect our department has hired,' says department head, Yung Ho Chang. 'He is an outstanding member of a generation who are so computer savvy that they think beyond computation, which for them is only one of their basic instincts. We are very excited to have him join us.'

Of his new position O’Brien says, 'I’m thrilled to come to MIT. The breadth, quality and influence of the work being produced by faculty members and students across the School is remarkable. The Department of Architecture strikes me as having a highly desirable, yet improbable balance; one which is extremely well-grounded pedagogically, and particularly agile intellectually.' O’Brien added, 'Joining a faculty of such renown is humbling. It's my ambition to contribute to the burgeoning design culture here on multiple fronts.'

O’Brien received his Master of Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2005, where he won the Faculty Design Award, and his Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies and Music Theory at Hobart College in 2000, where he was the recipient of the Nicholas Cusimano Prize in Music. He has also studied at the International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in Salzburg, Austria, under the auspices of the Hayward Prize for Fine Arts Traveling Fellowship in Architecture, and in the Denmark International Studies Program in Architecture in Copenhagen.

Last summer O'Brien was named a fellow at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough NH, an artist and writers' residency program supporting research across a wide range of creative disciplines. His research and creative practice have been fostered by an interest in the relationships between architecture, landscape architecture, technology and urbanism with an emphasis on the development of alternative resonances between natural and artificial systems.