PLAN 74: Article

SA+P’s Lead Role in a New Institute Initiative

The School of Architecture + Planning is one of three schools at MIT taking the lead in a new initiative to address the environmental impact of the world's ever-growing demand for transportation.

With two-thirds of the world's petroleum consumption devoted to transportation, and with projections that demand may outstrip supply within a few decades, the program's creation comes as the global movement of people and things is becoming increasingly unsustainable.

But a recent survey of 1300 faculty and researchers here found that more than a quarter of them are already working on problems directly related to transportation – from urban infrastructure and motor vehicles to adaptive technologies and their effect on personal behavior.

By coordinating those wide-ranging efforts and leveraging connections among faculty in three different schools, Transportation@MIT aims to speed the development of new ideas in sustainability, technology, business practice and public policy.

Led by Cynthia Barnhart, Associate Dean of Engineering for Academic Affairs, the initiative is starting out as a two-year pilot program with support from SA+P, the School of Engineering and the Sloan School of Management. Plans are also underway for the development of two labs, one in Cambridge and one outside the US, where researchers can apply and test new processes, technologies and policies.

Some of the transportation-related efforts already underway in SA+P’s five divisions include:

• the development of new vehicles and vehicle-sharing programs to promote more efficient urban mobility
• the development of new urban systems that are more responsive to weather, climate and human use
• research into more sustainable urban development patterns, particularly the revitalization of urban districts in areas with low availability of street space
• the potential use of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism to bring about changes in urban mobility patterns in developing countries
• the development of applications allowing access to real-time information about the state of transportation-related resources, as well as predictions regarding their future conditions
• research into the travel preferences of older adults to help current and future communities meet those needs and the needs of the broader community
• evaluating patterns of neighborhood design, organization and land use to assess the factors that encourage walking, cycling and walks-to-transit

SA+P faculty listed as affiliated with the new initiative include: Stanford Anderson, ?Professor of History and Architecture; Eran Ben-Joseph, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning; Alexander D’Hooghe, Class of 1922 Career Development Associate Professor of Architecture and Urbanism; Joseph Ferreira, Professor of Urban Planning and Operations Research; Leon Glicksman, Director of the Building Technology Program; Kent Larson, Director of Changing Places; Andrew Lippman, Director of the Digital Life Consortium at the Media Lab; Bill Mitchell, Director of the MIT Design Laboratory; John Ochsendorf, Class of 1942 Career Development Associate Professor of Building Technology; Joseph Paradiso, Director of the Things That Think Consortium and Head of the Responsive Environments Group at the Media Lab; Alex (Sandy) Pentland, Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences; Rosalind Picard, Head of the Affective Computing Group?and Co-Director of the Things That Think Consortium at the Media Lab; Karen R. Polenske, Head of the Regional Planning Group in the Department of Urban Studies + Planning; and Chris Zegras, Lead for Transportation Systems in the MIT Portugal Program.