Rensselaer | Architecture Rensselaer | Architecture 2015-05-24T23:35:51Z Editor ML <![CDATA[David Bell Receives David M. Darrin ’Award]]> 2015-05-19T17:45:34Z 2015-05-18T19:54:15Z Professor David Bell to receive the David M. Darrin ’40 Counseling Award

From Elise Budd (Class of 2015), President, Phalanx Leadership Honor Society

“We are pleased to announce that Dr. David Bell of the School of Architecture has been selected as the 41st recipient of the David M. Darrin ’40 Counseling Award.

This award was established by David M. Darrin ’40 to recognize a faculty member who has made an unusual contribution in the counseling of undergraduate students. The selection of the award recipient is made by Phalanx Honor Society based on nominations received from an open solicitation to the campus earlier this academic year. The David M. Darrin ’40 Counseling Award will be presented to Dr. Bell at Commencement on May 30, 2015.

In recognizing Professor Bell, members of the Rensselaer community cited his compassion and care for students, both personally and professionally. Dr. Bell shares his insight by delivering unique feedback to his students—cultivating original practices and thoughtful design methodologies. Dr. Bell has served as chairman of the Robert S. Brown ’52 Fellows Program selection committee, established to support global independent research for students within the Rensselaer architecture program. Through his exhaustive efforts, Professor Bell continues to generously share his time, knowledge, and resources to ensure a strong community within the School of Architecture.

Please join Phalanx in congratulating Dr. Bell on this honor.”

David Bell is an associate professor and faculty member of Rensselaer’s School of Architecture since 1980. He holds an M.Arch. degree from the University of Virginia, where he had also been in the Ph.D. program in physics before taking up the study of architecture. He has taught architectural design studio and a variety of courses in the history and theory of architecture at every level in Rensselaer’s undergraduate and graduate programs. His writings on the history and theory of architecture have been published in a variety of national and international journals. His most recent articles are “The Irritation of Architecture” in the Spring 2011 issue of the Journal of Architectural Education and “The Panoptic Garden”, which will appear in the book EARTH PERFECT? Nature, Utopia, and the Garden to be published by Black Dog Publications in spring 2012. Professor Bell is currently writing a series of books regarding the formative importance of constraints in the architectural creative process. The first three of these books will appear in 2012. Their titles are Bernini and Borromini: Theater & Heresy, Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia: Knowledge & the Middle Landscape, and Adolf Loos: The Irritation of Modernity.

Professor Bell recently returned from the India travel program of this spring.


Main Editor <![CDATA[FP & Thesis Awards (Peck Prize) Review]]> 2015-05-22T15:26:44Z 2015-05-09T14:18:53Z Final & Master Project Awards Review:

Saturday May 9th, 12-6pm @ Greene Gallery.

Selected Students:

Professor Chris Perry (coordinator): Octavie Berendschot & Katelyn Rauth

Professor Gustavo Crembil: Michael Everett & Shane Gavitt

Professor Carla Leitao: Elias Jackson Darham & Georgeanna Foley

Professor Ted Ngai: Difei Chen & Yifeng Zhao

Guest Critics:

Lydia Kallipoliti, Ferda Kolatan, Julie Larsen, Michael Young, Lonn Combs, Demetrios Comodromos, Dean Evan Douglis, Ted Krueger, Zbigniew Oksiuta


Editor IL <![CDATA[Nick Axel (’10): new managing editor at Volume/Archis]]> 2015-05-08T16:45:10Z 2015-05-08T00:48:35Z Alumni News:

Nick Axel designated new managing editor at Volume / Archis.

After graduating from Architecture Rensselaer in 2010 with a B.Arch and a minor in philosophy, Nick Axel worked for Alejandro Aravena at ELEMENTAL in Chile. Axel then joined Luis Vidal + Architects in Madrid. In 2013 Nick graduated with Distinction from the Centre for Research Architecture in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, during which he started working with Forensic Architecture as a researcher, a position which he continues up until this day. He is additionally a guest lecturer in the Department of Architecture and Urbanism at the Bauhaus-Universitat Weimar. He has published theory, articles and independent projects in leading architecture journals and  recently participated as a resident in the 2014-2015 Winter Residency at DAAR.

 [Nick describes himself as] an unlicensed architect, radical theorist, critical journalist and spatial strategist, currently based in London. His architectural approach to the production of space is akin to the approach of an editor to a text. His current research endeavors seek to meditate on the metaphysical instantiation of power through the medium of architecture as both a problem and a solution, both a question and an answer, both impossible and inevitable.

You can find more at his website and Awaking Lucid blog.

In the Spring of 2015, Axel was designated Managing Editor for Volume Magazine/Archis in the Netherlands.

Volume magazine is an independent quarterly magazine that reaches out for global views on designing environments, advocates broader attitudes to social structures, and reclaims the cultural and political significance of architecture. Created as a global idea platform to voice architecture any way, anywhere, anytime, it represents the expansion of architectural territories and the new mandate for design. Please click here to find out more.

Editor SB <![CDATA[[Recent Lecture] Achim Menges]]> 2015-05-16T19:56:25Z 2015-04-21T05:23:04Z Mon April 27th, 6:00 pm @ EMPAC Concert Hall

ACHIM MENGES: “Computational Material Culture”

ACHIM MENGES is a a registered architect in Frankfurt, Germany and a professor at the University of Stuttgart, where he is the founding director of the Institute for Computational Design since 2008. Additionally, Menges is a Visiting Professor in Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design since 2008.

Achim Menges’ practice and research focuses on the development of integral design processes at the intersection of morphogenetic design computation, biomimetic engineering, and computer-aided manufacturing that enables a highly articulated, performative built environment. His work is based on an interdisciplinary approach in collaboration with structural engineers, computer scientists, material scientists, and biologists. Menges has published several books on his work and related fields of design research, and he is the author and co-author of numerous articles and scientific papers. His projects and design research have received many international awards, have been published and exhibited world wide, and form parts of several renowned museum collections, including the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Menges graduated with honors from the AA school of Architecture in London where he subsequently taught as Studio Master of Emergent Technologies and Design Graduate Program from 2002 to 2009, as a visiting professor from 2009 to 2012, and as Unit Master of Diploma Unit 4 from 2003 to 2006. From 2005 to 2008 Menges was Professor for Form Generation and Materialisation at the HfG Offenbach University for Art and Design in Germany. Menges is a member of several international research evaluation boards and of numerous scientific committees of leading peer-reviewed international journals and conferences.

From Achim Menges’ profile at the University of Stuttgart Institute for Computational Design, read more here.


Editor SB <![CDATA[[Recent Event] Section Cut Pin-Up]]> 2015-04-26T15:00:00Z 2015-04-08T15:53:37Z Wed April 15, 2015 @ Greene Gallery | 2:00-6:00 pm

Please join us this Wednesday, April 15 in the Greene Gallery for the AIAS sponsored all school pin-up and open house. Two representatives from each studio, selected by their studio professors, will present their work from this semester so far. This is a Grand Marshal week event.

Main Editor <![CDATA[Fall 2015 Electives]]> 2015-04-22T14:00:32Z 2015-03-10T20:49:34Z Elective courses available:

ARCH4020/CIVIL4020 Bedford Sem: Advanced Building Structures (Civil)

This interdisciplinary seminar consists of students from both the School of Architecture and Civil Engineering department. Presentation of a variety of structural typologies bears direct relation to practical experience and the necessity for constructive interdisciplinary discourse. Specific structural typologies are examined through historic and contemporary project examples that are critically deconstructed and critically analyzed with respect to their basic engineering principles and architectural concepts. Students will be exposed to the collaborative methods inherent within the architect/engineer relationship. The course consists of lectures concerning each topic, case studies and presentations of relevant projects, an interdisciplinary design project and discussion of the projects and presentations with respect to interdisciplinary discourse. Content and delivery may vary by instructor.  Staff R 6- 8:50 pm. Cr. 3. Taught with CIVL4020. Prerequisite: Arch2230 Structures 1.

ARCH4750 Sustainable Building Design Metrics

A review of current and anticipated metrics associated with sustainable building design will be reviewed as well as construction practices in the building industry will be discussed.  We will review how sustainable design practices can mitigate the climate change in a positive way. An understanding of energy terminology is useful for this course. Lectures, discussions, field trips and assigned reading will be utilized to explore the subject matter.

ARCH4840.01 Architectural Acoustics 1

Providing an overview of the essentials for architectural acoustics design of performance and public spaces, including concert halls, theaters, museums, classrooms, sports arenas, courtrooms, and religious buildings.  The course may be used as a concentration in an architecture student’s professional electives, or the beginning of a master’s degree in acoustics. Covering basic principles of sound, room acoustics, sound absorption in rooms, sound isolation and privacy, acoustics of mechanical systems, and sound quality.  After Architecture Acoustics 1 & 2, students should be prepared for a basic entry-level position in either acoustics in architecture, or in acoustical consulting.  Todd Brooks  F 10–11:50, F 12–1:50 pm. Cr 4. (can be used towards a minor in Acoustics).

ARCH4960.01 PIP Planning Seminar

The Production Installment and Performance program has been a Rensselaer Tradition for many years. It is an opportunity to bring together students and faculty from architecture and the arts, and from other disciplines to collaborate with an guest artist in the making of a new work. This Seminar will engage the faculty and the invited artist in the initial discussions and planning stages of the PIP Studio that will happen in the Spring of 2016. The seminar will be both creative and organizational setting the groundwork for a productive studio and performance. The seminar and studio are not requirements for each other. Krueger. R 10-12. Cr. 2.

ARCH4961.01 Latin American Architecture

This seminar will explore current developments in Latin American architecture and urbanism within a research matrix connecting issues such as domestic and public space, hybridity, nature, informality, politics, and history. Canonical and recent projects, and main tendencies will be identify, analyzed and discussed in relation to their own architectural tradition as well to current global trends. Pre-requisites: ARCH-2140 (required), ARCH-4140 (recommended). Crembil, T 2-4 pm, Cr. 2

ARCH4964.01 Sensitive Skins: phenomenon, matter and technology

Matter structures the physical and formal qualities of the art work playing a determinant role in the emotional perception of it, especially when these qualities are able to manifest signs of something primordial producing an emotional resonance that reaches cross cultural realms. The familiarity with matter involves a sensory experience that also activates our memory in our negotiation with the physical. Matter matters. Matter stretches out to our body and, reciprocally, our body expands and occupies matter. Then what is the role our own skin plays within this context, as mediator between work and body, as an organism that filtrates emotions, conditions sensuality and links our body with the environment? What would be the architectural implications if we understand architecture as a projection of our own skin, an extension of our own body, or an organism that is able to reconnect us with the natural landscape? As the 21st century enters a phase where Earth’s ecological balance is threatened by humanity’s short-term economic imperatives, there is an increased poignancy to the sustenance we once used to derive from the natural world. Reconnecting with the natural world implies reconnecting with our own nature as well. What is the role architecture can play in this sustenance? This seminar engages with the phenomenological and the role that matter -and eventually technology- plays in the way we experience the phenomenon in architecture. It is about looking at the past –and therefore learning from it- with present eyes, to project wisely into a future in which technology should be at our own service. Perez Guembe. R 10-12. Cr. 2.

ARCH4967 Robotic Material Assemblies

This course is an advanced design seminar that explores the use of robotic gantry for direct material assembly. The primary objective is to understand all the different processes involved in the emerging 3D / 4D printing technologies, from modifying the material properties to writing motion control code that directs the assembly process. The main goal of the course will be to teach students how to control material deposition through a 3-axis robotic gantry, as well as to modify and tune all necessary robotic motion control to accommodate different material behavior. This course will require students to have prior knowledge of Rhino 3D and preferably Rhino Grasshopper. The course will be conducted based on 6 workshop sessions on scripting and writing G-Code,

ARCH6120.01 Design Explorations 2

ARCH6120.80 Design Explorations 2

ARCH6130.02 Design Explorations 3 (meets wARCH6810)

Taught w/6810

LGHT4230 Lighting Design

A design studio that explores the roles of light in architecture and its application by design. Students conceive, evaluate, and synthesize solutions that contribute to successful lighting and architectural design. Russ Leslie. TF 2–4:50 pm. Cr 4. (Recommended for 4th and 5th year architecture undergraduate students – also can be used towards a minor in Lighting).

LGHT4770 Lighting Tech and App

This course provides students with an in-depth understanding of the components of advanced lighting systems and enables them to critically explore applications of those components. Through lectures, readings, assignments, and application projects, students acquire working knowledge of the relevant products and techniques for lighting application and develop solutions to lighting problems. Students will undertake practical applications of advanced lighting technologies and develop skills in the application of photometric data, use of manual and computer-based lighting calculations, and the development of lighting specifications. TF10–11:50 am. LRC Gurley Bldg.

LGHT4840 Human Factors in Lighting

An introduction to lighting and human factors, including classical literature and contemporary studies and development of skills needed to conduct and evaluate human factors research. Fall term annually. Mariana Figueiro. MR 10–11:50 am. Cr 4. (Recommended for 4th and 5th year architecture undergraduate students – also can be used towards a minor in Lighting).

LGHT6830 Physics of Light

A comprehensive overview of the physics of light and its applications for lighting. The course uses a variety of instructional methodologies, including lectures, laboratory sessions, hands-on experimentation, and individual student projects and presentations to cover various areas of lighting study. Topics include geometric optics, physical optics, lighting calculations and measures, spectroradiometry, measurement techniques for advanced light sources, radiometry, and photometry. Nadarajh Narendran. TF 10-11:50 am. Cr 4.


ARCH4968.01 MESTIZO ROBOTICS [3 credits option]

A design-and-build workshop dedicated to the development of an artistic robotic installation based on a fragment of the Popol Vuh (the Mayan book of creation) that narrates a failed attempt by the gods to create humankind from mud. This is an artistic/academic project comprised of a community of robotic agents “made of mud” dispersed and developed by different research academic units throughout the Americas. A cluster of 3 or 4 robotic units will be developed and installed at Rensselaer. These “mestizo robots” should have two levels of interactivity: local (among themselves and their environment) and remote (with other distant robots of the community and external data). The characteristics (technology, materials, mechanics, etc) and ‘personality’ (autonomy, behavior, etc.) of the RPI robotic cluster is to be defined during a dedicated studio / seminar course. This studio is developed under the framework of ART_X@Rensselaer, an “art across the curriculum initiative” aimed to promote art, science and design interchanges among the institute’s diverse academic units. This 3-credit option is open to non-architecture students only, who will work together with students at the School of Architecture in a larger dedicated design studio. Taught with ARCH 4250 / 60. Gustavo Crembil and others TBD. MR 4-6. Prerequisites: 3th and 4th year non-arch students only. Credits: 3. Enrollment: 8 students max.

ARCH4969.01 MESTIZO ROBOTICS [2 credits option]

A seminar dedicated to revising and expanding the notion of ‘mestizo technology’ and its larger theoretical implications. ‘Mestizaje’, a Spanish word normally used to describe the process that blends races or languages, is also understood in contemporary cultural discourse as a phenomena with a non-harmonic resolution, “an heterogeneous juxtaposition aiming toward hybridity” (G. Yudice), interactions, interchanges, and re-appropriations. Under this lens, could a ‘mestizo technology’ be possible? This seminar will provide the theoretical ground for the development of the robotic installation based on a fragment of the Popol Vuh (the Mayan book of creation) that narrates a failed attempt by the gods to create humankind from mud. This is an artistic/academic project comprised of a community of robotic agents “made of mud” dispersed and developed by different research academic units throughout the Americas. A cluster of 3 or 4 robotic units will be developed and installed at Rensselaer. This seminar is developed under the framework of ART_X@Rensselaer, an “art across the curriculum initiative” aimed to promote art, science and design interchanges among the institute’s diverse academic units. This 2-credit option is open to non-architecture students only, who will work together with students at the School of Architecture in a larger dedicated design studio. Taught with ARCH 4250 / 60. Gustavo Crembil and others TBD.  Days: M 4-6. Prerequisites: 3th and 4th year non-arch students only. Credits: 2. Enrollment Max: 6 students max.

]]> 0 Editor EK <![CDATA[J. Choma (’09) New Book]]> 2015-05-06T12:58:56Z 2015-05-06T12:56:12Z

Alumni News:

JOSEPH CHOMA: “Morphing: A Guide to Mathematical Transformations for Architects and Designers”

Alumni of the Rensselaer School of Architecture and founder of the Design Topology Lab, Joseph Choma, Class of 2009, has recently published “Morphing: A Guide to Mathematical Transformations for Architects and Designers”  – a visually striking guidebook that clearly and systematically lays the foundation for using mathematical transformations as design tools.

“Cylinders, spheres and cubes are a small handful of shapes that can be defined by a single word. However, most shapes cannot be found in a dictionary. They belong to an alternative plastic world defined by trigonometry: a mathematical world where all shapes can be described under one systematic language and where any shape can transform into another.”

Morphing is intended for architects, designers, and anyone with the curiosity to understand the link between shapes and the equations behind them. Its author, Joseph Choma, is the founder of the Design Topology Lab, an interdisciplinary design research practice. Choma’s research interests lie at the intersection of perception, computation, epistemology and pedagogy. He completed his graduate studies in design and computation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and obtained a professional degree in architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Currently, Joseph teaches within the School of Architecture at Clemson University.

See the following links for more information on Joseph Choma and his work.

Design Topology Lab:



Editor EK <![CDATA[Spring 2015 Final Reviews]]> 2015-05-07T16:05:44Z 2015-05-01T02:16:48Z May 2015


Wed. May 6th

    Chris Perry section @ Greene Gallery
    Gustavo Crembil section @ Greene Gallery

Fri. May 8th

    Carla Leitao section @  CRAIVE-Lab
    Ted Ngai section @ Greene Gallery

Sat. May 9th

    @ Greene Gallery

Mon. May 11th

    Sections: Yael Erel, Serban Ionescu, Michael Oatman, Anthony Titus (coordinator), and Farzam Yazdanetsa
    @ Greene Building room 101, room 201, and Gallery

Tues. May 12th

    @ Greene Gallery

Wed. May 13th

  • Arch Design 3:
    Sections: Adam Dayem (coordinator), Edwin Liu, Zbigniew Oksiuta, Elena Perez-Guembe
    @ Greene Building room 101, room 201, and Gallery

Thurs. May 14th

  • Arch Design 3 Awards Review 
    @ Greene Gallery

Fri. May 15th

    sections: Lonn Combs, Koray Duman, Ted Krueger (coordinator), and Kyle Stover
    @ Greene Gallery
    @ GR 201

Sat. May 16th

    @ Greene Gallery

Mon. May 18th

    @ Greene Gallery

Tues. May 19th

    @ Greene Gallery


Editor IL <![CDATA[Student Course Evaluations Now Open]]> 2015-05-06T15:15:16Z 2015-05-06T15:14:07Z Spring 2015 Student Course Evaluations are now open. Student feedback is very important to the institute, its five schools, and their departments, and students are asked to please complete evaluation surveys for all courses. Evaluations will be available through Wednesday, May 13, 2015. You may contact the Office of Undergraduate Education by phone at (518) 276-2244 for more information.

Please click here to be directed to the login page for your course evaluations.


Main Editor <![CDATA[Mestizo Robotics (Art_X@Rensselaer)]]> 2015-05-07T17:42:25Z 2015-04-20T18:29:15Z Art_X@Rensselaer


Art_X@Rensselaer is looking for a small group of curious and self-motivated art, cognitive science and engineering students (junior, senior and/or graduate)  and interested faculty to participate in a novel initiative coordinated by the School of Architecture and EMPAC.

We are interested on students with a basic knowledge of and/or interest in the following areas:


Students will participate in the development of an artistic academic project comprised of an interconnected spherical robotic community dispersed and developed by different research units throughout the Americas. [1]


The overarching interest linking the different research groups across the continent is the exploration of the notion of “technological mestizaje.” Mestizaje is understood here as phenomenon with a non-harmonic resolution, but a “heterogeneous juxtaposition aiming toward hybridity” (G. Yudice). The term ‘mestizo technology’ is used to frame the discussion on how technology is embodied, appropriated, transformed and assimilated in unexpected forms in different development contexts.

Inspired by the Mayan creationist myth of the Popol Vuh, Gustavo Crembil and Paula Gaetano Adi (2) proposed  this territorial installation comprised of a community of autonomous robotic spheres “made out of mud.” The project advocates for the integration of high and low technology, materials, processes, and cultures; and claims a tactical approach to fabrication and thinking in which western methods, expertises, and colonial technologies collide, and are absorbed with existing traditions and local knowledges.

One cluster of 3 or 4 robotic spheres will be developed and installed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) under the framework of the ART_X@Rensselaer, an “art across the curriculum initiative” aimed to promote innovative educational and research interchanges among the institute’s diverse academic units.

The project will be developed under the umbrella of dedicated advanced design studio at Rensselaer’s School of Architecture coordinated by Prof. Gustavo Crembil, under which different curricular tiers will co-exist to allow the participation of students of different schools who will work together and co-develop the project with architecture students.


Non-architecture students will have the following curricular options to sign up:


Design-and-build workshop focused on developing a robotic art installation mixing high and low technologies. Research to include: robotics, mechatronics, sensing, signal processing, telematic and responsive art. Mondays and Thursdays 4-6pm.


Seminar dedicated to exploring and expanding the notion of “mestizo technology” and its theoretical implications. Mondays 4-6pm.


Architecture students will signup under the following studio option:


Advanced Arch Design (vertical) studio. Only arch students are eligible to register under this curricular format.
Studio presentation and selection:  Monday August 31st, 2:30pm, Greene Gallery.





[1] So far, the Nano Lab / Universidade Federal of Rio de Janeiro and the Electronic & Media Arts / Universidad Tres de Febrero (Buenos Aires, Argentina) have confirmed their participation. Others may be added soon.

[2] Paula Gaetano Adi taught at eMAC / RPI and worked at EMPAC. Currently a faculty at Rhode Island School of Design, she will be a regular guest critic of these courses.