Matthew Allen (PhD ’19) studies the history and theory of architecture and computation. He has a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University and degrees in Physics and the Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington. His writing has been published in Log, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Perspectives on Science, Domus, Disegno, Harvard Design Magazine, and other venues. He previously worked as an architect at Preston Scott Cohen, MOS, SSD Architects, and urbanDATA, and he has taught at the University of Toronto.
Amin Alsaden’s (PhD ’18) work focuses on global exchanges of ideas and expertise across cultural boundaries. His research interests include modern architecture and art, especially in the Muslim and Arab worlds; governance and space in conflict zones; formal and cognitive attributes of interiors; sociopolitical and professional motives behind cultural institutions and districts; questions of monumentality in contemporary art and architecture; and challenges of preserving and disseminating knowledge about modern heritage.
Amin’s dissertation takes as its subject the manifold ways in which Baghdad, in the years following World War II, became a locus of architectural encounters, contributing to a profound transformation of architecture globally all the while engendering a unique local movement. During this crucible moment, specifically between 1955 and 1965, native architects and artists articulated a global imaginary that envisioned their unique contribution to the world, challenged hegemonic modes of practice, and pioneered the institutionalization of architecture in Iraq and the Middle East.
Amin holds a Master of Arts from Harvard University, a Post-Professional Master in Architecture from Princeton University, and a Bachelor in Architecture and a Minor in Interior Design from the American University of Sharjah. He practiced at various firms in Europe and the Middle East, most recently OMA and MVRDV in the Netherlands.
Maria Atuesta’s (PhD ’21) research centers on planning and socio-spatial segregation in Latin American cities, and housing policy design for social integration and social reconciliation in post-conflict contexts. Her dissertation work focuses on neighborhood formation processes in Colombia after large migrations of internally displaced persons to small cities.
Maria has worked on policy research projects for the World Bank, Colombia’s National Planning Office and the Center for Community Innovation at UC Berkeley. She holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Economics from her hometown university in Colombia, Universidad de los Andes, and was awarded with a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. She has advanced her doctoral dissertation work with support from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Brett Culbert (PhD ’21) studies the history of the North American landscape and built environment, from 1750-1900. His research focuses on the visual and literary history of landscape routes, especially the projection of travelers’ views into unfamiliar environments. Past projects have explored: the visualization of overland travel through Mormon accounts of the Great Basin, navigational sounding leads and the practice of wayfinding along the North Atlantic coastline, Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s settlement of England’s first overseas colony, in Newfoundland, and Alfred Watkins’ landscape photography along the Wye River Valley.
Brett is from Rhode Island and prior to pursuing his PhD he received a Bachelors of Architecture degree from Cornell University (2004) and a Masters with Distinction from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard (2011). His Master’s thesis: “The Nascent Picturesque: Visualizing Wilderness and Industry in the New World” was based on a close reading of Thomas Pownall’s Topographical Description, a document that describes the inland expanse of British North America in the mid-eighteenth century. This work focused on the statesman’s observations of an emergent American civilization; especially the native industrial pursuits that bound settlers to the land, forming a social contract between industry, nature and society.
John Davis (PhD ’18) studies the North American built environment and landscape, particularly the effects of technology and engineering systems on landscapes and ecological regions. His dissertation is a historical analysis of the U.S. government’s evolving relationship with nature, focusing on the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the construction of public works, and the technological communities that supported them, in the Reconstruction Era. His work has been supported by fellowships from the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection and the Charles Warren Center for the Study of American History.
His ongoing research interests include early modern surveying and cartography, historical coastal reclamation practices, infrastructure design and construction in extreme environments, the effects of militarization of landscapes, nature and aesthetics in the early American republic, literature and constructed landscapes, and more generally, the relationship between design, construction, and environment in the modern Americas. He recently published several articles on engineering and environmental policy, and a digital atlas of water infrastructure in the Potomac Valley. In addition to his dissertation, he is currently at work on an article about military geometry and continental-scale diagrams, and a documentary film about marshlands in Massachusetts. He was born in New York City and holds a BS from the University of Virginia and a Master in Architecture with Distinction from Harvard University.
Natalia Escobar Castrillón (PhD ’20) is a Spanish architect and instructor. She received her Advanced Masters in Design Studies in Critical Conservation with distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), and her M.Arch with honors from the Universidad de Sevilla. Her research and teaching interests are in modern and contemporary architecture theory and practice, historiography, and architectural conservation and she has been a Visiting Professor at Boston University, Universidade de Sao Paulo (FAUSP), and Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.
Her dissertation and research work delves into the ideological dimension of architectural conservation, and strives to develop a socially inclusive approach to the field by using the tools of architecture and the philosophy of history and memory. Her research project has been funded by the prestigious TALENTIA grant from the Spanish Ministry of Education, the Jorge Paulo Lemann Foundation, the David Rockefeller Foundation, and the Harvard Asia Center, among others. These grants have allowed her to pursue fieldwork in Brazil, Latin America, and China, respectively.
In 2016, Natalia was hired as the head professor for the graduate core course on architectural conservation theory at the Harvard GSD. During that appointment, she had a crucial role in developing an inclusive and international curriculum for the Critical Conservation program along with its founders, Profs. Michael Hays and Rahul Mehrotra. She is also the founder and editor in chief of the Harvard based publication OBL/QUE, an online journal on architectural conservation that gathers innovative interpretations of architectural projects located around the world. The publication received the Haskell Award from the AIA New York Center for Architecture in 2017.
Matthew Gin (PhD ’20) is from San Francisco and studies architecture and urbanism in the 18th and 19th centuries. He dissertation, “The Politics of Pageantry: Dynasticism, Diplomacy, and Ephemeral Festival Architecture in France, 1729-1763,” examines the temporary structures erected for public celebrations of royal births, marriages, and military victories during the reign of Louis XV. His other ongoing research interests include the repurposing of building materials in the early modern period, the politics of architectural patronage, and the spatial aspects of diplomatic ceremonial.
He has a BA (Art History) and a BMus (Baroque Flute Performance) from Oberlin College, an MED (Architectural History) from Yale University, and an AM (Architecture) from Harvard University. His research has received generous support from the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Dumbarton Oaks, the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, and the UCLA Center for 17th- and 18th– Century Studies. Prior to Harvard, he worked for the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust and the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA.
Lisa Haber-Thomson (PhD ’19) studies Architectural History and Theory. Her research explores the relationships between territory, law, and architecture. She has completed her dissertation, Territories of incarceration: architecture and judicial procedure across the English Channel, 1642-1945. Her past work has examined the legal significance of a variety of architectural structures, and has ranged from an analysis of the use of watermills in medieval property disputes, to a study of the contemporary usages of Maginot Line casemates in eastern France. Lisa has been the recipient of the Julia A. Appleton Traveling Fellowship in Architecture, and the Frederick Sheldon Fund Traveling Fellowship. Additional support for her research has been awarded by the Soane Foundation and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.
Lisa has a Masters in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and a Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard University. Prior to beginning her PhD program, Lisa worked as an intern architect at Ateliers Jean Nouvel; as a video and sound editor for the Science Media Group; and as a freelance animator and sound designer. Continuing work in educational video production includes the design and implementation of the forthcoming online course, The Architectural Imagination, a co-production of HarvardX and the GSD.
Morgan Ng (PhD ’18) studies the interplay between architecture, visual culture, and the technical sciences in early modern Europe, with a particular emphasis on Renaissance Italy. His dissertation examined how developments in military architecture transformed the design and experience of sixteenth-century buildings, gardens, and cities. This project benefited from the resources and financial support of the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Villa I Tatti, Medici Archive Project, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Getty Research Institute.
Morgan’s articles appear in the journals Art History, Word & Image, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, and Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Topics addressed in these essays include the aesthetics of Psalm-singing in Huguenot-occupied churches and towns; the influence of Calvinist cartography on John Milton’s poetry; and the cultural ecology of colorless window glass in late-Renaissance secular architecture. Forthcoming writings will also be featured in edited volumes on Renaissance drawing, sculpture, and landscape architecture.
Before beginning his graduate studies, Morgan completed his Bachelor of Architecture at Cornell University, and worked as an architectural designer in New York and Chicago.
Bryan E. Norwood (PhD ’18) earned his PhD at Harvard University and was a visiting assistant professor at the Mississippi State University School of Architecture. He was the 2016-2017 Charles E. Peterson Senior Fellow at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia. His dissertation, entitled “The Architect’s Knowledge: Imagining the Profession’s Historical Body, 1797-1877,” is a study of the development of professionalized architectural knowledge through the formalization of architectural education in nineteenth-century America. Focusing on the key role the conceptualization of architectural history played in the formation of the discipline and profession, Bryan’s dissertation explores the ethics of architecture’s relation to its own past.
Bryan previously received a BA in philosophy and a BArch from Mississippi State University, an MA in philosophy from Boston University, and an AM in architecture from Harvard. He has taught courses at the GSD, Northeastern University, and Boston University. In addition to his dissertation, Bryan’s recent research includes the architectural implications of phenomenology, the history of flood control on the Mississippi River, mid-century modern architecture in Boston, speculative realism and object-oriented ontology, and the architectural historiography of plantation houses in the Lower Mississippi Valley. His writing has appeared in Philosophical Forum, Harvard Design Magazine, Culture Machine, Log, and MONU, as well as several collected volumes.
Melany Sun-Min Park (PhD ’20) specializes in the history of architecture in 20th-century East Asia and the global formations of modernism in visual culture and design. Her dissertation, “From the Truss to the Dome: Architecture as Modern Science in Postwar Korea, 1953-1978,” is an interrelated investigation of architectural knowledge, cultural nationalism, and techno-scientific development in postwar South Korea. It follows the transnational transfer of knowledge and expertise that took place in the wake of the Korean War (1950-1953), a period when colonial forms of institutional training confronted the Cold War technocratic culture.
At the 2020 Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference in Seattle, Melany will be co-chairing the panel, “The Magnitude of Architecture.” In the summer of 2019, she received a Pforzheimer Fellowship at the Harvard Business School to conduct research on the American photographer Ansel Adams and his consultancy for the Polaroid corporation. In 2017, Melany helped coordinate a GSD centenary symposium celebrating the work and life of I.M. Pei.
Melany received an MDes from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), where she was awarded the Gerald M. McCue Medal. She also holds a MArch from National University of Singapore and a MA in Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Her writings have appeared in the Journal of Architecture, Architectural Review, and Singapore Architect (SA). She is currently working on an essay on the construction of Korean fertilizer complexes for Aggregate’s book project, Systems and the South. Melany’s research has received generous support from the following institutions: Harvard Korea Institute, Harvard Asia Center, Society of Architectural Historians, and Canadian Center for Architecture.
Marianne F. Potvin (PhD ’19) studied the intersection of humanitarian action and urban planning. Her research, entitled “Humanitarian Urbanism: Cities, Technology and the Hybrid Practices of Humanitarian Actors,” draws on urban theory, and science, technology, and society studies (STS) to explore the evolution of international aid organizations’ approaches to space and physical planning. Her work has been supported by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (2016/19) and the Harvard Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics (2017/18).
Prior to Harvard, Marianne led field teams in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur, for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other NGOs to support refugees and victims of armed conflicts. In Kabul, she co-chaired the UNHCR Shelter Cluster’s Technical Group, and advised the Kabul Municipality on urban response strategies (2010). Her recent fieldwork focuses on the role of aid agencies in responding to the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Lebanese cities.
She teaches a graduate seminar on the theories of practice in crisis, conflict and recovery. She has written about urban resilience and the ethics of crisis mapping, and contributed to forums such as the UN-Habitat Informal Urbanism Hub, the OpenDemocracy.net’s Cities in Conflict Series, and the Design for Humanity Initiative.
Etien Santiago (PhD ’21) is a licensed architect who investigates the impact of new technologies on architecture and society. His areas of expertise are architectural history and theory from the nineteenth century to the present, the use of industrial materials in modern architecture, and conceptualizations of machine and digital culture.
Prior to starting a PhD, Etien worked as an architect for firms such as the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. He holds an M.Arch. with distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design as well as a B.Arch. and B.A. cum laude from Rice University. His M.Arch. thesis was awarded the James Templeton Kelley Prize, and his undergraduate work received recognitions including the AIA School Medal, the Rice Visionary Project in Architecture Award, and the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts.
His dissertation uncovers how the cultural and intellectual context of World War I shaped architects’ appropriation of innovative military construction techniques, from which they sought to create new forms of affordable housing. This research has been supported by grants from the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Harvard Center for European Studies, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
Etien currently teaches at the Indiana University J. Irwin Miller Architecture Program based in Columbus, Indiana. He received a Distinction in Teaching Award from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning for a prior role as a Harvard Teaching Fellow.
Justin D. Stern (PhD ’19) studies the interplay of economic development and city planning in rapidly urbanizing regions in East and Southeast Asia. His dissertation looks at how business process outsourcing or “offshoring” is driving new patterns of urban development with particular focus on India and the Philippines.
Questions addressed in Justin’s research include: In what ways do the contemporary urban forms of cities in Asia, and their dominant building typologies, reflect the economic and political restructuring of the previous half century? What role do large-scale, diversified corporate conglomerates, such as Samsung Group in Korea and Ayala Corporation in the Philippines, play in urban development? And how can the experience of Seoul and other cities in East Asia, as inductive role models, better inform rapidly developing regions in Southeast Asia and beyond?
Justin holds a Master of Urban Planning (MUP) from Harvard University and completed his bachelor’s degree at Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Oxford. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Justin served as a Fulbright Fellow in Seoul, South Korea and was the recipient of a Harvard-Frederick Sheldon Traveling Fellowship. He is currently a Graduate Student Associate at the Harvard Asia Center and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Justin is a four-time recipient of the Derek-Bok Center Certificate in Teaching Excellence. Prior to enrolling at Harvard, Justin worked in the international development arena and in affordable housing development in New York City.
Adam Tanaka (PhD ’18) studies urban planning with a particular focus on affordable housing and real estate development. His research interests lie at the confluence of urban history, political science and business studies. His writings on cities have been published by Slate, Van Alen, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, the Gotham Center for New York City History, the Harvard Real Estate Review, Archi-DOCT, and Failed Architecture, among others.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, Adam completed his dissertation on large-scale, middle-income housing in New York City. Offering a counterpoint to familiar narratives of post-war suburbanization and central city disinvestment, the dissertation analyzes a number of vast planned communities built for middle class New Yorkers from the 1940s through 1970s. The dissertation investigates the political and financial alliances that facilitated these projects – many of which remain the largest of their kind in the world – as well as the factors that abruptly terminated this “large-scale approach” in the mid-1970s.
Adam received a BA in art history and urban studies from Princeton University and an AM in Urban Planning from Harvard. He has held fellowships from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and in 2015-2016 he was a visiting scholar at the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. Over the course of his doctoral studies, he has also worked for a variety of New York City agencies on affordable housing, public finance and land use-related matters.
Adam has also been closely involved in the development of the Harvard Summer School course, “Biology and the Evolution of Paris as a Smart City,” a partnership program between the City of Paris, Harvard, SciencesPo, and the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity. The course, now in its third year, mentors interdisciplinary, international student teams in the development of innovative solutions to urban problems in Paris, France.
Wei Zhang (PhD ’21) specializes in Architectural Technology. His dissertation research examines natural ventilation and its implementation in green building through data-driven algorithms. It integrates the machine learning algorithm and realizes the smart control of indoor air quality and thermal comfort based on the design of complex system architecture around operable windows and thermal mass. He believes it will contribute to improving the building energy performance through controllable natural ventilation.
All his research is demonstrated at the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC), which is the frontline zero energy house platform. He is enthusiastic about bringing the natural ventilation design into real-world applications and discussed the concept of controllable natural ventilation during several conferences in the field of architecture and indoor air quality.
Wei holds a Bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from Southeast University in China. He received a diplôme d’Ingénieur in mechanical engineering and a research master in fluid dynamics from INSA Toulouse. Prior to the Ph.D. program, Wei experienced as a design engineer in an energy infrastructure project in Grenoble and Paris for seven years, and he holds the title of European Engineer. Along with his career, Wei continued to pursue the advanced study in architecture and received a DPEA degree in architecture from ENSA Paris-La Villette (UP6).
Wei maintains a wide range of research interests in historical heritage, architectural theory, and architectural technology. Additionally, he had global integrated research/study experience in energy policy, architectural design, and history, respectively, at the University of Toronto, ETH Zurich, Aarhus School of Architecture, and Université Paris X – Nanterre.