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.
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.
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.
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.
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.