William O’Brien Jr.
Cambridge, MA
Talk Title
On Worlds, The Work of WOJR
Monday, April 01, 2024
6:00 pm
Aura (doors open at 5pm)
121 Center St.
Portland, ME 04101

On Worlds, The Work of WOJR


This talk is about the themes, considerations, and hurdles that stem from taking on the act of projecting our architectural imaginations to produce worlds. It is, ultimately, a reflection on the challenge of describing the worlds that we can partially-imagine and that we aspire to wholly-invent, through several of WOJR’s works.

Regietów Chyża – A Gateway to the Forest



William O’Brien Jr. is Founder and Principal of WOJR and Director of the Master of Architecture Program at MIT, where he is a tenured Associate Professor. From 2018-2021 he was the Design Director for the Samara Project at Airbnb. Additionally he was one of the founding members of Collective–LOK. He is the recipient of the 2012-2013 Rome Prize Fellowship in Architecture awarded by the American Academy in Rome. He was awarded the 2011 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects and Designers. He has taught previously at  University of California Berkeley as the Bernard Maybeck Fellow and was the LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellow at The Ohio State University.


Other Masks – Facades & Faces

Before joining MIT, he was Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught advanced theory seminars and design studios in the graduate curriculum. William pursued his graduate studies at Harvard GSD where he was the recipient of the Department of Architecture Faculty Design Award. He has been named a Fellow by MacDowell in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and a Socrates Fellow by the Aspen Institute.

House of the Woodland – A Room for Artifacts



If you weren’t in the architecture field, what would you be doing?
I considered quite seriously the possibility of applying to MFA programs for cinematography after completing my MArch degree. I was thinking (and still am) a lot about techniques for curating vision and ways of conjuring new (visual) worlds for people.


What class did you enjoy most in high school?
Drafting was my most enjoyable class in high school, which was taught by a teacher with the perfect aptronym, Mr. Stickler. I learned so much from him. In some of the classes that I took with him, I was the only student. That level of attention to precision has stayed with me.


If you could take a class what would the focus be?
I would love to enroll in a landscape architecture program, if I could make the space and time. Observing a place through the lens(es) that landscape architecture has to offer provides an incredibly deep and more thorough understanding of context; enabling the architectural act to be that much more resonant with things such as cycles of change and time.