William O’Brien Jr. is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning and is principal of an independent design practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also one of the founding members of Collective–LOK.
In 2013 Wallpaper* named his practice one of the top twenty emerging architecture firms in the world. He is the recipient of the 2012-2013 Rome Prize Fellowship in Architecture awarded by the American Academy in Rome. His practice was awarded the 2011 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects and Designers. In 2010 his practice was a finalist for the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program and was recognized as a winner of the Design Biennial Boston Award.
O’Brien has taught previously at The University of California Berkeley as a Bernard Maybeck Fellow and was the LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellow at The Ohio State University. Before joining MIT, for two years he was Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Austin, where he taught advanced theory seminars and design studios in the graduate curriculum. At MIT O’Brien currently holds the Cecil and Ida Green Career Development Chair and teaches design studios in both the graduate and undergraduate programs. He was the recipient of the 2010 Rotch Traveling Studio Scholarship which funded research and travel for an advanced design studio in Iceland.
O’Brien pursued his graduate studies at Harvard University where he was the recipient of the Master of Architecture Faculty Design Award. Prior to graduate school he attended Hobart College in New York where he studied architecture and music theory and was the winner of the Nicholas Cusimano Prize in Music. After completion of his graduate work he studied in Austria as the recipient of the Hayward Prize for Fine Arts Traveling Fellowship in Architecture under the sponsorship of The American Austrian Foundation. He has been named a MacDowell Fellow by the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and a Socrates Fellow by the Aspen Institute.
His publications include essays, “Approaching Irreducible Formations” in ACADIA re:Form, and “Totems” and “Experts in Expediency” in Log Journal. He is currently contributing to and editing a collection of essays for which he has received a grant from The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.