J. Meejin Yoon, architect and educator, has been appointed Head of the Department of Architecture beginning July 1. The first woman ever appointed to that post, she succeeds Nader Tehrani, who served as department head from 2010 to 2014.
"Nader Tehrani has led the department with skill and vision for the past four years," says Dean Adèle Naudé Santos, "and we are deeply grateful for his efforts. Now, as we turn to the next four years, we are very excited about what Meejin Yoon will bring to that office. She is an extraordinary educator, a brilliant designer, and an out-of-the box thinker. She is also very much of the MIT culture, interdisciplinary by nature, and a wonderful collaborator. She will make a superb department head."
A faculty member in MIT’s School of Architecture + Planning since 2001, Yoon is co-founder of Höweler + Yoon Architecture and MY Studio. Her multidisciplinary practice in Boston is widely praised for work at the intersection of architecture, interactive environments and public space. Among her most recent projects is the memorial for Sean Collier, the MIT policeman slain in the wake of last year’s Marathon Bombing.
In 2013, Yoon was presented with the Irwin Sizer Award for the Most Significant Improvement to MIT Education. As director of the undergraduate program in architecture since 2010, she brought an inventiveness to the program in ways that expanded the notion of design and architecture within an institute of technology, according to her nominator Nader Tehrani.
"Meejin's trajectory at MIT has been an important one," says Tehrani. "It not only displays the design talent with which she earned her position here to begin with, but also the curiosity to expand and learn from the particular culture that only MIT can offer, a curious blend of the arts and sciences. She not only puts them dead center in her own inventive research, but also translates them into a productive brand of pedagogy."
Last year Yoon introduced a new course unique to MIT with support from the D'Arbeloff Fund. Co-taught with Neri Oxman at the Media Lab, "Design Across Scales: Integrative Design across Disciplines, Scales and Problem Contexts" explores the reciprocal relationships among design, science and technology. The course brought students together from over a dozen MIT departments to focus on design as a way of looking at the world that promotes the synthesis of knowledge from many different disciplines in order to unlock creative solutions to our most challenging problems. (It was also offered through MIT’s OpenCourseware initiative.)
"I believe that MIT’s Department of Architecture is in a unique position," says Yoon, "to capitalize on its context within a world-renowned institution of science and technology to transform not only architecture education but the disciplinary reach of the profession. Our faculty bring together intellectual depth, innovative research and creative production at the intersection of architecture, art, culture and technology that is unparalleled. The uniqueness of the department and MIT has had significant influence on my intellectual and creative development. I hope to continue to build on its strengths to create a catalytic platform for the next generation of our disciplines."
Yoon’s design work has been widely recognized for its innovative and interdisciplinary nature, winning the United States Artist Award in Architecture and Design in 2008, the Athena RISD Emerging Designer Award in 2008, Architecture Record’s Design Vanguard Award in 2007, the Architecture League’s Emerging Voices Award in 2007, and the Rome Prize in Design in 2005.
With her partner Eric Höweler, she was also presented with the 2012 Audi Urban Future Award – a €100,000 prize – for a proposal to create a new kind of transportation platform in the Boston to Washington corridor for the year 2030, a "Shareway" that would merge many forms of transport into a shared platform, piggy-backing a new bundled high-speed rail infrastructural system on the existing interstate and proposing new interfaces for the future of mobility.
Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the National Art Center in Tokyo, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
Yoon received a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University with the AIA Henry Adams Medal in 1995, a Masters of Architecture in Urban Design with Distinction from Harvard University in 1997, and a Fulbright Fellowship to Korea in 1998.