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.
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.
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.