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Islamic architecture - Aga Khan Documentation Center: About

Supporting teaching of, and research on, the history and theory of architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design, visual and material culture, and conservation, as well as the practice of architecture, in Muslim societies.

Find books & films

Use these links to find books and films in the MIT Libraries purchased by the Aga Khan Fund for Islamic Architecture.

About the Center

Situated within the MIT Libraries, the Aga Khan Documentation Center, a part of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) at MIT and Harvard, was established in 1979 by a gift from His Highness the Aga Khan.  The Center supports teaching of, and research on, the history and theory of architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design, visual culture, and conservation, as well as the practice of architecture, in Muslim societies, with particular focus on the research and teaching activities of the faculty, students, and post-doctoral fellows at AKPIA.

The Center funds acquisitions and cataloging of visual and printed documentation on the visual and material cultures of the Islamic world, building rich collections in all languages and formats in these subject areas.  In addition, the Center provides research, reference, and outreach services. The Aga Khan Documentation Center acquires research materials not commonly found in other collections in North America for the MIT Libraries, including a wide range of specialized periodicals, monographs on architecture, urban planning and development, maps, and documents of preservation and planning authorities.  Through the acquisition of select personal archives, the Documentation Center is a repository of primary research materials.

A part of the Documentation Center, the Aga Khan Visual Archive consists of nearly 120,000 slides and digital images of architecture, urbanism, and the built environment.  Begun in 1980 with images donated by graduate students traveling on AKPIA Travel Grants, scholars, architectural firms, and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Archive continues to grow.  Images in the Archive document historic and contemporary sites in the Islamic world, including many sites not found in any published resource or those that are no longer accessible or have been destroyed.

In addition, the Aga Khan Documentation Center is responsible for the curation of the intellectual and content core of Archnet, a globally-accessible, intellectual resource focused on architecture, urbanism, environmental and landscape design, visual culture, and conservation issues with a focus on Muslim cultures and civilizations.  Over the past ten years, Archnet has worked to provide digital access to the collections of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Aga Khan Documentation Centers at MIT and Harvard, resulting in a growing library of over 79,000 images and 6,000 publications.

The Aga Khan Documentation Center at MIT Libraries is partnered with the Documentation Center of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University.  Harvard and MIT affiliates have reciprocal access to library collections at both institutions.  The Centers provide, acquire, and borrow materials necessary to produce the best scholarship possible and through planned activities, aim to play a significant role in bringing together the various interests and fields of inquiry from both institutions.

Images

Program Head

Sharon C. Smith, Ph.D.
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Visual Resources Librarian for Islamic Architecture

Andrea Schuler

Archnet Content Manager

Michael Toler, Ph.D.
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