William J. Mitchell Dies at 65

Metropolis was saddened to learn today of the death of William J. Mitchell, the former dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and, most recently, the director of the MIT Media Lab’s Smart Cities research group. According to an obituary by the MIT News Office, Mitchell died on June 11 after a long battle with cancer. He was an influential urban theorist, a prolific author, and a passionate advocate of creating more sustainable cities through technology. “Our cities are fast transforming into artificial ecosystems of interconnected, interdependent intelligent digital organisms,” he wrote in a 2006 essay for Metropolis. Last March, Mitchell spoke to us about his team’s efforts to reinvent the automobile by introducing ultralightweight, battery-powered vehicles into dense urban areas. “It’s important to get the technology and the policy right,” he said, “but in the end, the way you break a logjam is by engaging people’s imagination, people’s desire, by creating things that they never thought of before.”

Donations can be made to the Learning Prep School at 1507 Washington St., West Newton, MA 02465, where a technology fund will be established in Mitchell’s memory.

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