On behalf of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, especially the students who now present the culmination of their M. Arch education through their thesis, we extend our gratitude to the guest critics who have generously joined us on Thursday, December 22, 2022:

Erin Besler, Garnette Cadogan, Sean Canty, Beatriz Colomina, Natalia Dopazo, Jenny French, Antonio Furgiuele, Caroline Jones, Ang Li, Diana Martinez, Lauren Pacheco, Julian Rose, John Todd, Ivonne Santoyo Orozco, Hans Tursack, Matthew Okazaki, Mark Wigley, and Alpha Yacob Arsano.

MIT Master’s
of Architecture

Fall 2022

Not as Planned

Patricia Dueñas-Gerritsen 

Thesis Committee 

Sheila Kennedy

Caitlin Mueller

Carrie Norman
Architecture continues to assume too much. It assumes it can provide solutions to highly specific scenarios with strictly calculated dimensional constraints. It assumes people will live in particular ways. It assumes buildings and conditions will last forever unaltered. As a result, our buildings and their embodied materials are so often collateral damage to new plans and new ideas. In place of this certainty, we need to accept that more often than not things do not go as planned.

The Providence Gas Company Purifier House serves as the physical and conceptual site for this thesis. It has undergone failure after failure—technological obsolesce, environmental disasters, economic collapse—making it both peculiar and paradigmatic. And while architecture does not have the agency to change these realities, it can respond to them. By considering a series of architectural propositions instead of a singular custom-fit design, this thesis asks: Can we think through multiple states and their transitions? What might this mean for sites of architecture and existing modes of practice?

To design differently, architects need to be more unsure and unassuming. Resigning control of future events means abandoning over-designed and over-determined systems of the past. This methodology explores loose-fits and odd adjacencies resulting from existing forms that have the potential to challenge standards, conventional programming, unproductive preservationist ideals, developer-driven notions of efficiency, and uncompromising aesthetic agendas. We must presume that future plans will fail, yet still maintain hope in them. Thinking through this precarity means that architects must anticipate that their work be rewritten, edited, converted and that these processes can enable new tools of documentation, deconstruction, and maintenance. This thesis reimagines the architect as caretaker and argues for an architecture of revision and repair through the design of multiple futures.