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Architectural Research

Research Cluster Overview

The Department of Architecture offers concentrated inquiry, research, study and pedagogy in a wide range of focus areas. Architecture research clusters are overviewed below. More detailed information – including associated faculty and students, lists of recent theses, and examples of research projects – is available at the respective cluster pages (linked from each cluster title).

Culture, Society, Space: The Culture, Society, Space research cluster examines how built spaces – from the artifact to the urban – affect those who interact with them and, conversely, how cultural, societal and disciplinary values shape the spaces we create. Projects can address individual buildings, public spaces, communities, or cities, as well as typological, institutional and wider forms of inquiry. Research methods include formal, theoretical, historic/historiographical, sociological and systemic analyses. Studies may focus on spaces and ideas as forms of cultural expression, the people who produce and use them, and/or the ideological forces in which they operate, including all aspects of their sustainability.

Design Computing: The Design Computing research cluster offers students critical knowledge and advanced skills in the use of digital technologies in architecture and related design fields, especially in the areas of visualization, generative systems, and fabrication. By critically examining contemporary discourse on digital media and architecture, this cluster examines the impact of emerging digital technologies on creative processes in shaping our built environment, and investigates how they can be productively utilized in sustainable design, interdisciplinary collaboration, and fabrication. The work of faculty and students in this group spans research on immersive environments, critical studies of design technologies, software development, shape grammars, parametric design, and innovative uses of numerically controlled devices.

Material Matters:The Material Matters research cluster provides students with opportunities to delve into the interaction of materials and processes. With research ranging from material properties exploration to applied process-based design, this cluster encompasses a wide range of creative interests that find common ground in the power of material – the generator and substance of design. Research in the MM cluster is supported by a collection of faculty members who’s work focuses on craft traditions, industrial production, tooling and skills transmission, bricolage and the material imagination, material memory, design-build, and the reuse and restoration of buildings. Student and faculty engagement with Penn State’s considerable materials/making resources in Architecture, Fine Arts, and Engineering is a hallmark of this cluster. MM – as a community of scholars, architects, and designers who fabricate, build, un-build, and innovate – stimulates new knowledge through shared experience in an environment of creative innovation, hands-on exploration, and critical making.

Sustainability: The Sustainability research cluster investigates architecture's potential to improve the quality of life for current and future societies around the globe, addressing issues of natural resource consumption, pollution prevention, and organizational dependencies. Our faculty address aesthetic, technical, economic, and social issues in projects that cover multiple scales. From design processes, historical and theoretical aspects of sustainability, material reclamation and reuse, to identifying social structures preventing sustainable practice, this research cluster offers a comprehensive view of sustainability that promotes interdisciplinary integration. Faculty bring both practitioner and academic experience to their investigations, producing generalizable knowledge that can also be applied in the professional practice of architecture.


Recent Awards of Ph.D. Students

Stephen Mainzer: 2017 Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award
Julio Diarte: 2017 Penn State Graduate Exhibit Arts & Humanities Category, 1st Place
Meher Bhagia: 2016 University Graduate Fellowship
Irem Öz: 2015 University Graduate Fellowship

Recent Awards of M.S. in Architecture Students

Angelica Rocio Rodriguez Ramirez: 2017 Penn State Graduate Exhibition Arts & Humanities Category, 1st Place
Cansu Tari: 2016 Penn State Graduate Exhibition Arts & Humanities Category, 1st Place
Dhaval Chheda: 2016 Penn State Graduate Exhibition Arts & Humanities Category, 2nd Place
Shivaram Punathemabekar: 2016 Penn State Graduate Exhibition Arts & Humanities Category, 3rd Place
Farah Abdel Galil: 2015 Penn State Graduate Exhibition Arts & Humanities Category, 2nd Place

Recent Awards of M.Arch. Students

Christopher Hazel: 2017 Penn State Professional Master's Excellence Award
Ambikesh Mishra: 2017 Lyceum Fellowship Competition - 2nd Prize
Guangmao (Forrest) Xu: 2017 Tritschler Prize - Merit Award
Shokofeh Darbari: 2016 AIA Pennsylvania’s Student Award for Exceptional Scholastic Achievement