New Media

  • Digital Archive of Black Architects
    Robert R. Taylor Network

RRTN, Robert Robinson Taylor timeline and background collage. ©RRTN and Robert R. Taylor. Courtesy of MIT Museum.

The Digital Archive of Black Architects project establishes a new interactive multimedia digital archive and platform of the contributions of blacks to architecture and the built environment with an initial focus on the United States. It will contain digital photographs, plans of buildings, 3D renderings, video clips of interviews with architects, and other documents pertaining to design. Existing information about this topic is scattered and poorly documented and not readily available to scholars and the public. This proposed archive brings together distributed information and creates new primary documents, including interviews and commissioned photographs. The archive will be hosted in a cloud model via the Robert R. Taylor Network (RRTN) and at local participating institutions. The archive leverages the RRTN Taylor Lab's technical solutions for digital archiving and technology development. An initial prototype and web-based timeline have already been put together, and the archive will work to extend it.

Darian Hendricks, president and executive director of RRTN, Inc., received a BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Benjamin Franklin Programme Diploma from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, has over seventeen years experience working in both professional consulting and product companies, especially in the financial and energy services, retail, not-for-profit, technology, and telecommunication sectors. Hendricks has been a director and consultant for Sapient Corporation in Cambridge, MA, and a senior product designer at Lotus Development Corporation, also in Cambridge. Hendricks started a business and design consultancy in 2003 called Manwarin Scott, Inc. and d/b/a havens indesign studios. The company helps businesses by designing integrated digital and analog experiences that create paradigm shifts within their industries. He is a member of the board of advisors for Thompson Island; a member of the coordinating committee for Somerville Cares About Prevention; and a former member of the Council for the Arts at MIT.

Wesley Henderson, co-collaborator, earned a PhD in the history of architecture from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1992. His dissertation explored the careers of two black architects that practiced in that city between 1890 and 1960. At that time Henderson was trained to do oral history, and he recorded interviews with five black architects. He was assistant editor for the African American Architects Biographical Dictionary, 1865-1944 (2004). Henderson is a licensed architect, a historical researcher, and has been a collegiate instructor for thirty years.

Mark Jarzombek, co-collaborator, is professor of the history and theory of architecture at MIT, where he has taught since 1995, coming from Cornell University. Currently he is the director of the history, theory, and criticism section of the department.  His work includes nineteenth- and twentieth-century architecture and aesthetics. Jarzombek coauthored A Global History of Architecture (Wiley Press, 2006). His awards include fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study (1993), the Canadian Center for Architecture (2002), and the Clark Institute (2005). He has published in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Assemblage, Renaissance Studies, and elsewhere.

John Ochsendorf, co-collaborator, is a structural engineer with multidisciplinary research interests including archaeology, the history of construction, and sustainable design. Trained in structural mechanics at Cornell University, Princeton University, and the University of Cambridge, he conducts research on the structural safety of historic monuments and the design of a more sustainable infrastructure.

Founded in 1985 by MIT students, the Robert Robinson Taylor Network (RRTN) based at MIT is a nonprofit 501(c)(3)educational foundation comprised of a global network of partners connecting youth and professionals to a cultural legacy of achievement in architecture, science, technology, engineering and math (ASTEM). The goal is to create cultural and economic impact through innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship. RRTN's mission is to increase the number of underrepresented populations in architecture, science, technology, and engineering fields, while specifically increasing the number of technology entrepreneurs and companies founded by these individuals.