Based at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) is dedicated to the study of Islamic art and architecture, urbanism, landscape design, conservation and the application of that knowledge to contemporary design projects. The goals of the programme are to improve the teaching of Islamic art and architecture; to promote excellence in advanced research; to enhance the understanding of Islamic architecture, urbanism, and visual culture in light of contemporary theoretical, historical, critical, and developmental issues; and to promote the knowledge of Islamic cultural heritage.
A centre of excellence in the history, theory, and practice of Islamic architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), AKPIA's mandate is to educate architects, planners, teachers, and researchers who can contribute directly to meeting the building and design needs of Muslim communities today. AKPIA teaching and scholarship also serves to increase sympathetic cross-cultural interest in Islamic arts and culture. When it was launched, His Highness the Aga Khan said,“I have selected two of America’s most distinguished architectural schools – Harvard and MIT – and established a programme for Islamic architecture. This programme will not only utilise their immense intellectual resources for the benefit of scholars seeking to understand Islamic architecture, but also circulate this expertise among students, teachers and universities in Muslim and Western countries.”
To date, over 100 professionals from throughout the Muslim world have graduated from the Programme. Endowments have supported the operation of Harvard's textual and visual collections on the history of Islamic art and architecture, and have enabled the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop an outstanding visual and reference collection on the architecture of the 20th century Muslim world. The Programme also publishes Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World, produced since 1983 through AKPIA's office at Harvard University, and published by Brill, Leiden, the Netherlands.
Currently, there are four Aga Khan Professors (two each at Harvard and MIT) and two documentation centres. The Programme also provides funds for lectures and conferences, as well as for students, including post-doctoral students.
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