5:00 PM17:00

Ruhr Tour Summer Study Trip Info Session - MMCH 303

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ruhr tour.JPG

A informational session for students interested in the 2018 SoA summer study trip to Germany: Ruhr Tour will take place immediately after studio on Wednesday 17 January at 5:00pm in MMCH 303. 

Applications are now being accepted for the summer Ruhr Tour. The trip takes place from 27 July - 11 August 2018 and focuses on post-industrial landscapes and architectural masterpieces in the Ruhr-Rhine Region and Hamburg.

In order to make reservations at some of the important monuments, firm commitments from student participants are needed by 31 January in the form of a signed contract; see link below for more information, including costs and schedule, and to download the application form.

Download this form for more information on the trip and to access the application form.

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10:00 AM10:00

PhD Dissertation Defense (Gannon) - Studio for Creative Inquiry CFA 111

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TITLE: Human-Centered Interaction for Autonomous Fabrication Machines

BY: Madeline Gannon, PhD-CD Candidate

DATE: Thursday, 18 January 2018
TIME: 10:00am
LOCATION: Studio for Creative Inquiry, College of Fine Arts, Room 111


Dr. Ramesh Krishnamurti, Professor
School of Architecture
Carnegie Mellon University

Golan Levin, Associate Professor
Director, Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry
School of Art

Dr. Aisling Kelliher, Associate Professor
School of Computer Science
Virginia Tech

Dr. Tovi Grossman, Distinguished Research Scientist
Autodesk Research


Computer-controlled fabrication machines have been an essential part of industrial infrastructure since the early 1960s. The unique abilities of these machines — their speed, precision, strength, endurance, and programmability — have long provided a strategic advantage for factory automation. However, today we are witnessing the transition from automated to autonomous systems of production. Now, instead of being restricted to short, repetitive, pre-programmed tasks, fabrication machines are gaining the ability to dynamically see and respond to their changing environment. While this transition represents a significant advancement for manufacturing, it also presents a newfound opportunity to explore human-centered interaction design with these large, potentially dangerous, non-humanoid machines.

In this dissertation, I demonstrate the potential for rebalancing systems of automation to be more inclusive of people. My research examines how to combine intelligent sensing with well-designed interfaces, so that the underlying control framework of a fabrication machine can better understand a human-counterpart. I present three interactive systems that progressively embody a fabrication machine with this contextual information: with Reverb, I develop a framework for embedding machine knowledge into interactive, semi-autonomous geometry; in Tactum, I demonstrate how to adapt this intelligent, fabrication-aware geometry to dynamically changing physical environments; with ExoSkin, I examine the technical challenges of direct, close-quarter interaction with fabrication machines.

Finally, my work culminates with Mimus, a 1,200kg industrial robot that I transformed into a living, breathing mechanical creature. Mimus synthesizes innovations and techniques first developed in Reverb, Tactum, and ExoSkin to illustrate new interaction possibilities when coexisting with autonomous, attentive machines. It re-examines the unique affordances of an industrial robot, and illustrates how an existing tool of automation can be reconfigured to have more meaningful interactions with people. This body of work demonstrates the potential for human-centered interfaces to combine the unique abilities of people and machines in ways to transcend one another’s limitations. In doing so, my research aspires to show how our systems of automation can be reconfigured to enhance, augment, and expand human capabilities — not replace them.

A copy of the dissertation document can be found here.

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10:00 AM10:00

PhD Dissertation Presentation (Srivastava) - MMCH 409

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PhD-BPD candidate Rohini Srivastava will be presenting her PhD thesis, Integrating Financial, Environmental and Human Capital - the Triple Bottom Line - for High Performance Investments in the Built Environment on Friday 19 January 2018 at 10:00am in MMCH room 409.

Her Advisory Committee, below sincerely hope that you will join us for this presentation, the final step in PhD Candidacy.

Vivian Loftness (Chair), University Professor and Paul Mellon Chair in Architecture
Erica D. Cochran, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture
Mathew Mehalik, PhD, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy, Heinz College
Robert Sroufe, PhD, Murrin Chair of Global Competitiveness, Duquesne University



Residential and commercial buildings account for almost 40 % of total U.S. energy consumption and U.S. carbon dioxide emissions (Pew Center, 2009) . Nearly all of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the residential and commercial sectors can be attributed to energy use in buildings, making high performance energy efficient buildings central to addressing diminishing resources and transitioning to a green economy. However, energy efficiency in buildings receives inadequate attention because first least cost decision-making as opposed to  life cycle cost analysis (Romm, 1999). When life cycle analysis is used, it typically captures only the ‘hard’ financial cost benefits of operational energy and maintenance savings, but rarely includes  environmental capital or human capital savings. This thesis proposes an empirical approach to triple bottom line calculations that integrates the economic, environmental and human cost benefits to accelerate investments in high performance building technologies. The development of a new methodology for capital expenditures in investments in the built environment can provide compelling arguments for decision makers and encourage the widespread adoption of high performance building technologies.

In the first bottom line, this research quantifies the ‘financial’ or capital costs and benefits of high performance building investments, by broadening the category of associated benefits beyond energy savings from an investment (Birkenfeld et al., 2011).  Traditionally, building investment decisions are made using a value engineering approach, which is driven by the agenda of cost reduction rather than valuing the benefit of different alternatives. Using net present value (NPV) and return on investment (ROI) indices, well-known in financial practices, the first bottom line calculation in this thesis moves away from a ‘first least cost’ to a life cycle approach to account for multiple non-energy financial benefits that can directly be quantified for the building decision maker. 

To advance a second bottom line that can be translated into Corporate Sustainability Reporting, the thesis provides a methodology for capturing the environmental benefits of reducing electricity demand related to carbon, air quality and water resources. These calculations are based on three levels of information - electricity fuel sources and power plant quality, the respective air pollution and water consumption consequences, and emerging valuation incentives for pollution reduction.  The methodology focuses on critical greenhouse gases CO2, CH4; SOx;  NOx, as well as particulates and water use, for three global scenarios – an emerging economy such as India, a country with mid-level sustainability goals such as the US, and a leading economy with low carbon growth goals such as the EU - in order to represent the range of environmental impacts of electric energy use. The capital saved by avoiding the environmental impacts of electricity use based on fuel source and mix can thus be added to each kilowatt-hour of electricity saved in a second bottom line calculation.

To advance the third bottom line, this thesis engages a methodology for measuring and quantifying human benefits from building investments based on ongoing development of CMU CBPD's BIDS toolkit.  The methodology is built on the field and laboratory research findings that link high performance building design decisions to human health and individual and organizational productivity. This thesis advances an approach to handling the third bottom line calculations, including an approach to establishing baselines, applying a broad base of laboratory and field findings. Given first cost data from vendors, first bottom line simple paybacks for 12 energy retrofit measures ranges from 2-20 years - with energy and facility management savings. When the environmental benefits are included, simple paybacks were accelerated to 1.5-18 years. Most strikingly, when human benefits are included - from reduced headaches and absenteeism to improved task performance or productivity - paybacks for investments in energy efficiency in US offices are often less than 1 year. 

To support the validity and reliability of results, both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to validate how Triple Bottom Line (TBL) cost benefits might impact and shift decision-making patterns from a least-first-cost approach to an approach that includes TBL information. Field testing of the potential influence on decision makers to move beyond first-cost decision-making to support investments in high performance, energy efficient technologies revealed the positive impact of Triple Bottom Line accounting for decision makers (p<0.05). The introduction of triple bottom line accounting for decision-makers in the built environment may be the most critical catalyst for investments in building energy improvements. 

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5:00 PM17:00

Burns Night Celebration - CFA Alumni Concert Hall


All CFA staff and faculty are invited to a Burns Night Celebration sponsored by the CFA Dean’s Office.

Please join us for an evening of Music, Poetry, Song, Food, Drink, and Dance honoring the great Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Thursday, January 25, 2018 from 5:00-7:30pm in the CFA Alumni Concert Hall

Please RSVP to Svenja Drouven (sdrouven@andrew.cmu.edu) by January 17.

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10:00 AM10:00

Interchange - MMCH 312

Interchange is a recruiting event for the School of Architecture where we invite you to tour our labs and studios to view design and research work by students from our B.Arch, eight Masters and four Doctoral programs.

Interchange will be hosted on 22 February 2018 in partnership with the Creative Arts Career Fair on 22-23 February 2018. Come to meet, greet, and visit our pop-up student showcase, where you can view and experience our work first hand, and conduct on-site interviews.

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to Apr 6

CMU Energy Week: Investing in Our Energy Future

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Interested in Energy? Then Carnegie Mellon’s Energy Week is for you! Save the date for Energy Week 2018, 4-6 April.

Join energy thought leaders from industry, government, academia, and the nonprofit sector to engage and collaborate on energy research, trends, innovative technologies, and opportunities.

Key Events:
03 April | Energy Industry Career Fair
04 April | Kickoff, Keynotes, Evening VIP Panel
05 April | Investor Forum
06 April | Allegheny Cleantech University Prize Collegiate Competition

More information and registration at cmuenergyweek.org.

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10:00 AM10:00

SoA Final Grades Meeting - CFA 206A

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Thu 21 Dec 2017 | 10:00am-3:00pm | CFA 206A
Final Grades Meeting

10:00am - Undergrad, MArch, MAAD, MUD

12:00pm (anticipated) - MS, PhD (STEM)

Full-time faculty members are expected to attend. If you are unable to attend, please share comments and design commends with Erica Oman at eoman@cmu.edu before the meeting.

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9:30 AM09:30

PhD Proposal Presentation (Veloso) - MMCH 409

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Join us on Tuesday 19 December for the PhD proposal presentation of Pedro Veloso.


TITLE: designLOOP: an agent-based system for architectural composition
By: Pedro Veloso, PhD-CD Candidate


Dr. Ramesh Krishnamurti, SoA CMU, Chair
Dr. Gianni Di Caro, SCS CMU Qatar
Dr. Reinhard König, Computational Architecture, Bauhaus-University Weimar


This research addresses the design of spatial composition with online agent-based models.

In conventional design processes, designers use feedback and problem restructuring to solve a spatial composition, which results in a task environment that is dynamic and unreliable. Besides, the large number of explicit and implicit constraints in a compositional problem makes it too complex to solve by deterministic algorithms. In contrast, multiagent models have a potential to explore good solutions precisely in these dynamic and unreliable task environments.

After describing the general approach to design problems in automated space planning (ASP), I review the precedent and recent works (2008-2017) in multiagent space planning (MASP), exposing current trends and gaps in the field. Then, I present a theoretical framework and an implementation guideline for a MASP research construct called DLOOP. This construct integrates two complementary agent-based design systems: an arrangement of discrete spatial units and a circulation network. The spatial units are represented by predominantly convex polygons structured as a spring-physics entity. These units can interact and navigate in the compositional space to satisfy local constraints such as adjacency, access, alignment, and visibility. The circulation network is a graph connecting the spatial units with direct and indirect circulation elements. It is generated from a complete set of edges and nodes defined by the boundaries of the spatial units.

In the end, I organize and describe the next steps of this research, including technical specifications, the tests to validate the research hypothesis and a timetable with all the future tasks.

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11:00 AM11:00

PhD Dissertation Presentation (Awomolo) - MMCH 409

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Join us on Thursday 14 December for the PhD dissertation presentation of Olaitan Awomolo.


TITLE: Exploring Communication in Multidisciplinary Building Design Teams
By: Olaitan Awomolo, PhD-AECM Candidate


Dr. Ramesh Krishnamurti, SoA,Chair
Dr. Omer Akin, SoA, Emeritus
Professor Molly Wright Steenson, School of Design
Dr. Erica Cochran Hameen, SoA


Communication is a challenge in multidisciplinary building design teams. The multidisciplinary nature of the team, in which team members contribute knowledge and
skills from within the boundaries of their disciplinary domain, combined with the
fragmented building design process, makes exchanging information among disciplines
difficult. Addressing this challenge is important because communication impacts
project outcomes. While effective communication mitigates project risk, contributes
to conflict resolution, and reduces project waste and errors, ineffective
communication contributes to project failure.

Existing research on communication and teamwork provides us with two key insights:
first, the presence of different disciplines – the functional diversity – on a team
can lead to both positive and negative outcomes through different communication
processes; then, communication in design includes three categories – communication
as social behavior, as an information process, and the use of communication
technology. However, this research comes from domains such as healthcare,
manufacturing, and software design. As such, there are several gaps that limit our
understanding of multidisciplinary building design communication:

- As literature on multidisciplinary building design teams is sparse, we do not have
sufficient documented information about multidisciplinary building design practice
to the extent that we use the terms multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary interchangeably although they indicate different kinds of team functioning.

- There are no approaches to studying communication in building design teams that
account for the multidisciplinary nature of the team and the complexity of design
communication. Identifying an approach to studying communication is a first step to
improving team communication and project outcomes.

- Though it is acknowledged that functional boundaries in a multidisciplinary team influence team functioning, the lack of literature on multidisciplinary building design teams and the lack of an approach to studying team communication means that we do not know how functional diversity affects team communication and outcomes.

My research contributes to our understanding of multidisciplinary building design
team practice by developing a framework to explore multidisciplinary building design communication. Then, it applies the framework to three cases of multidisciplinary building design teams to explore the effects of functional diversity on building design team communication and outcomes.

The exploratory framework allows for the systematic description and analysis of
multidisciplinary building design teams, their communication, and their outcomes.
When applied to the three cases, multidisciplinary building design practice is
explored along three lines of inquiry: What constitutes a multidisciplinary building
design team? How do multidisciplinary building design teams exchange information? And, what are multidisciplinary building design team outcomes? Data for the case studies are
obtained from interviews of 32 industry experts spanning 13 disciplines across the
three case studies. This data is analyzed using content analysis and a communication analysis approach that accounts for all three categories of communication.

Findings from the case studies do the following: they posit a relationship between
functional diversity, communication, and outcomes that is dependent not only on team characteristics, but also on project characteristics and timing; they offer modifications to the exploratory framework that allow for a more accurate representation of building design practice; and provide strategies used by team members to deal with the challenges and complexities of multidisciplinary building design communication.

These contributions – the framework and the case study insights – provide building
design researchers and practitioners with insights into building design teams, their
communication, and their outcomes. They are intended to be a necessary first step towards improving building design team practice.

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10:00 AM10:00

Graduate Program Informational Webinars

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On behalf of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture, we invite you to join us for LIVE informational webinars about our graduate programs on December 13 and 14, 2017.

Graduate Program Webinars Schedule
Click on program links to join each webinar on the following dates and times. You can either launch the session in your web browser or download the BlueJeans app. 
Thursday, December 14, 2017
10:00am EST - Master of Architecture (M.Arch)
2:00pm EST - Master of Science in Sustainable Design (MSSD) and Master of Science and PhD in Building Performance & Diagnostics

During the webinars there will be a short presentation from faculty on the programs followed by a question and answer session for you to ask any questions you may have. 

We look forward to having you join us!

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10:00 AM10:00

Graduate Program Informational Webinars

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On behalf of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture, we invite you to join us for LIVE informational webinars about our graduate programs on December 13 and 14, 2017.

Graduate Program Webinars Schedule
Click on program links to join each webinar on the following dates and times. You can either launch the session in your web browser or download the BlueJeans app. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
10:00am EST - Master of Science and PhD in Computational Design (MS- & PhD-CD)
10:00am EST - Master in Urban Design (MUD)
11:00am EST - Master of Advanced Architectural Design (MAAD)
2:00pm EST - Master of Science and PhD in Architecture-Engineering-Construction Management (MS- & PhD-AECM) and Doctor of Professional Practice (DPP)

During the webinars there will be a short presentation from faculty on the programs followed by a question and answer session for you to ask any questions you may have. 

We look forward to having you join us!

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8:00 PM20:00

NOMAS Gingerbread House Kit Raffle for Charity

You could win this gingerbread house kit by supporting NOMAS' fundraiser for charity.

You could win this gingerbread house kit by supporting NOMAS' fundraiser for charity.

NOMAS is collecting donations to be placed into a raffle to win a gingerbread house kit. All profits will go to CISPAC, an organization in Pittsburgh that helps drop out students. If you're feeling in the giving spirit, please support the cause.

$1 = 1 raffle ticket, buy as many as you would like! You can give your donation to any e-board member: Hannah, Kerrian, Lesther, Ashley, or Alyssa or venmo @blufangs. We will have a jar of names in studio and will be drawing the winner of the gingerbread house on Monday night 11 December.

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2:00 PM14:00

EX-CHANGE - CFA 200 & CFA 214

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An Open Studio Show and Discussion
Su 10 December | 2:00-5:00pm | CFA 200 & CFA 214
Alan H. Rider Visiting Critic and Distinguished Lecturers

EX-CHANGE is a celebration of the student work of the School of Architecture. Every semester, the SoA studios generate rich provocations, collaborations, and opportunities for both orchestrated and spontaneous exchange.

Beyond definitive answers, the projects and research of our studios grapple with an array of critical questions.  These questions will drive this inaugural end-of-semester exhibition and discussion with SoA faculty, students, and invited guests Aaron Betsky and Trey Trahan. EX-CHANGE is an opportunity to shine new light on the SoA studio sequence and position the work within larger questions of research and practice.


2:00 Show! 
A reception and celebration of student work in CFA 200 with light refreshments. 
Steve Lee will guide Trey and Aaron through 3-minute presentations at each studio's boards.

3:00 Interrogate! 
A moderated conversation based on questions generated by studios with Trey, Aaron, and representatives from each studio in CFA 214.


  • Kelli Li, inter-punct
  • Ernest Bellamy, NOMAS, MUD2
  • Talia Perry, SoA faculty and alumna

4:00 Reflect! 
A discussion of how the work and research developed at the SoA relates to broader discourses in academia and practice.


  • Kyle Wing, inter-punct
  • Anthony Nitche, AIAS
  • Matt Huber, SoA faculty and alumnus

AARON BETSKY is the President of the School of Architecture at Taliesin. Trained as an architect, he works as an educator, critic and arts administrator. He is the author of over a dozen books on art, architecture and design, including the most recent, Making It Modern and Architecture Matters. In 2008, he curated the 11th Venice International Architecture Biennale.

VICTOR F ‘TREY’ TRAHAN, III, FAIA, is Founder and CEO of Trahan Architects, with local and international projects that have received recognition for their innovative use of materials. With a strong personal belief in the value of conservation and philanthropy, Trey’s life and work is guided by a commitment to the development of sustainable environments. Trey’s architectural projects include the Louisiana State Museum in Natchitoches, recipient of a 2015 National AIA Honor Award for Interior Architecture and Architect Magazine’s Annual Design Review Award. Trey has taught graduate classes at both MIT and USC, is board member of The Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington DC, and member of the global advisory board for the Van Allen Institute in New York.

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4:30 PM16:30

The Halpern Studio for Architecture Dedication & Reception - MMCH 3rd Floor

On behalf of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture, we invite you to join us for the dedication of The Halpern Studio for Architecture, newly-named and endowed with a generous gift from Jim Halpern (B.Arch '81) and Lisa Ficarelli-Halpern.

Friday, December 8, 2017
Dedication & Reception

The Halpern Studio for Architecture
Third Floor, Margaret Morrison Hall, adjacent to the elevator
Carnegie Mellon University
Please RSVP to Jill Simmons at jills@andrew.cmu.edu or 412-268-3408 by Wednesday, December 6, 2017.

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1:00 PM13:00

MUD 2 Studio Final Review (Gruber) - MMCH 303

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Please join us for the final review of our 2nd year Master of Urban Design (MUD) studio on Friday 8 December from 1:00-5:00pm in MMCH 303.

Our current MUD studio entitled Commoning the City is structured as a yearlong project, in which we investigate Urban Design’s agency in relation to the bottom-up transformation of cities—a transformation in which citizens take matters into their own hands and self-organize in shaping an alternative urban future. Thus building on the two foundational Pittsburgh-based design studios in place making and urban systems, the second year of CMU’s MUD program engages in a collective research-based-design project that helps students to position their design practice in a broader societal context that is theoretically informed and politically aware. This positioning unfolds from case study research and the articulation of a hypothesis culminating in an individual design project that acknowledges the balancing act of negotiating top-down planning and the self-organizing behavior of cities.

This Fall semester, taught by Stefan Gruber, focused on researching practices of commoning, and the articulation of an individual thesis and project proposal. The Spring semester, taught by Jonathan Kline, will support students in developing their respective design projects.

The studio is collaborating with ARCH+, Germany’s leading journal for architecture and urbanism, and the IFA, the Institute for Foreign Relations. Together ARCH+ and IFA produced the acclaimed exhibition Post-Oil Cities that has toured on four continents since 2010 and been translated into more than five languages. As research partners and co-curators for the follow-up exhibition, we are contributing to an exhibition and accompanying catalog An Atlas of Commoning that will open next June in Berlin, before traveling to Pittsburgh and beyond.

As part of this collaboration with ARCH+ and IFA, the studio visited Berlin from 14-22 October 2017 for a three-day workshop with ARCH+ and fieldwork on citizen-led architecture and urban design projects that have contributed to the bottom-up transformation of Berlin since the fall of the Wall. As a studio, this fall we laid the foundation for an “Atlas of Commoning” assembling international case studies that critically explore practices of urban commoning. The Atlas is conceived as a growing repository that will grow as the exhibition travels around the world. But the collective case studies also provided a foundation for the articulation of individual theses by Ernest Bellamy, Tamara Cartwright, Yidan Gong, Paul Moscoso Riofrio, ChunZheng and Lu Zhu, to be elaborated in the following Spring semester.

Thus the review on Friday 8 December 2017 presents an opportunity to discuss our research contribution to the exhibition, the individual thesis proposals, and more broadly, the role that practices of commoning might have on the future of the discipline of Urban Design and cities at large. We would be grateful if you could join us for this discussion.

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