J. Meejin Yoon, professor and head of the Department of Architecture at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, has been appointed the Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Planning at Cornell University. She will take up this new position on January 1, 2019. Andrew Scott, professor of architecture and urbanism, currently associate head of the department, has agreed serve as interim head starting August 15.
An architect, designer, and educator, Yoon joined the MIT faculty as assistant professor in 2001 and became department head in 2014. She is founding principal, with Eric Höweler, of Höweler + Yoon Architecture, a multidisciplinary architecture and design studio that has garnered international recognition for a wide range of built work.
Yoon’s designs have embraced technologies at multiple scales, from interactive wearables and landscapes to robotic fabrication of stone structures. Her pioneering interactive installation project for the Athens Olympics, White Noise White Light, was reinstalled on MIT’s campus for MIT President Susan Hockfield’s inauguration in 2005.
Eleven years later, Yoon was asked to design the Sean Collier Memorial at MIT to honor MIT police officer Sean Collier, killed in the line of duty. The memorial is an open vaulted stone structure at the corner of Vassar and Main Streets.
Among her current design projects are the Memorial for Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia, the future MIT Museum in Kendall Square, planned to open in 2020, and a 20-story multifamily residential tower in downtown Boston.
“Beyond her excellence and renown as a designer, educator, and administrator, Meejin brings rigor and dedication to everything she touches,” says Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. “Cornell is lucky to have her, to have her back, as we have been for the past 17 years. We will watch Cornell under her leadership with anticipation and with admiration.”
While leading the department, Yoon’s accomplishments included the establishment of a design minor open to all MIT undergraduates; the relaunch of the bachelor of science in art and design; and an increase in cross-disciplinary studios within the graduate program. In 2013, she received the Irwin Sizer Award for the Most Significant Improvement to MIT Education. Her popular course 4.110 / MAS.650 (Design Across Scales and Disciplines), co-taught with Neri Oxman, explores the relationships among science, technology, and design.
Yoon received a bachelor of architecture degree from Cornell and a master’s in architecture in urban design from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. She traveled to Korea under a Fulbright Fellowship after completing her studies.
Her design work, often operating at the intersection of architecture, technology, and public space, has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, and the National Art Center in Japan.
She is the author of “Expanded Practice: Projects by Höweler + Yoon and MY Studio” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009); “Public Works: Unsolicited Small Projects for the Big Dig” (MAP Book Publishers, 2008); and “Absence,” a World Trade Center Memorial artist book (Printed Matter and the Whitney Museum of Art, 2003).
Yoon’s research, teaching, and design work has been widely recognized for innovation and interdisciplinary reach, with honors including the 2016 ACADIA Teaching Award, the 2015 New Generation Design Leadership Award from Architectural Record, the Audi Urban Futures Award in 2012, the United States Artist Award in Architecture and Design in 2008, Architectural Record’s Design Vanguard Award in 2007, the Architecture League’s Emerging Voices Award in 2007, and the Rome Prize in Design in 2005.
“MIT’s ethos and commitment to applied knowledge for a better world has had a profound impact on me as an educator and as a designer,” says Yoon. “Design is an instrument for imagining and implementing change — social, cultural, technological, and environmental. During my time at MIT, it has been a privilege to work with such exceptional students and colleagues with these shared values. I look forward to the new challenges ahead and to advancing the principles I have learned here.”