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MIT Media Lab Co-Founder, Nicholas Negroponte, shares 3 books that have influenced his life

Nicholas Negroponte, Co-Founder of the famous MIT Media Lab, shares 3 books that have impacted his life in architecture.

Nicholas Negroponte

Co-Founder of the MIT Media Lab

Nicholas Negroponte is the co-founder (with Jerome B. Wiesner) of the MIT Media Lab (1985), which he directed for its first 20 years. A graduate of MIT, Negroponte was a pioneer in the field of computer-aided design and has been a member of the MIT faculty since 1966. He gave the first TED talk in 1984, as well as 13 since. He is author of the 1995 best seller, Being Digital, which has been translated into more than 40 languages. In 2005 he founded the non-profit One Laptop per Child, which deployed $1 billion of laptops for primary education in the developing world. In the private sector, Negroponte served on the board of directors of Motorola and was general partner in a venture capital firm specializing in digital technologies for information and entertainment. He has personally provided start-up funds for more than 40 companies, including Zagats and Wired magazine.

What 3 books have impacted your life in architecture and why?

Architecture without Architects

Bernard Rudofsky, 1964

The book prompted a brief period of celebrating indigenous architecture in contemporary forms. An example was Habitat '67. In my own early computer work (1967), I automated a very addative, digital sugar cube approach, that would create highly articulated, habitat-like buildings.

Toward a Scientific Architecture

Yona Friedman, 1975

Yona was one the Utopian Architects of the 1960’s. Who did not want to be a Utopian at twenty-one? I sure did. Now, over 50 years later, I find myself seriously exploring and perhaps deploying Yona’s ideas of long ago. Furthermore, his graph theory lent itself to what we called Architecture by Yourself (an homage to Rudofsky).


Seymour Papert, 1980

The book is about thinking about thinking, as well as learning about learning. It formed the basis of One Laptop per Child, as well as a life-long friendship. All subsequent work at the MIT Media Lab related to children and learning was influenced by this book or, in some cases, lead by Seymour himself. Think of it as learning by yourself.                          

Nicholas Negroponte MITNicholas Negroponte MITNicholas Negroponte MITNicholas Negroponte MIT
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