A tradition of excellence
The Department of Architecture’s century-strong traditions of drawing, model-making, community outreach/service learning, and hands-on construction prepare students to explore innovative models of architectural practice as well as non-traditional approaches, including design-build and digital fabrication.
The award-winning faculty are active in professional practice, research and service projects, and national and international competitions, as well as scholarly activities. Thanks to a rigorous curriculum with numerous opportunities to engage in professional projects and work with external stakeholders, graduates are prepared for wherever their design degrees may take them.
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Department of Architecture degree programs offer concentrated inquiry, research, study, and pedagogy spanning four key areas of focus, or research clusters: Culture, Society, Space; Design Computing; Material Matters; and Sustainability. Students will engage broadly with each of these areas, as well as selecting a specific cluster for primary course work and scholarship.
Culture, Society, Space (CSS)
The Culture, Society, Space (CSS) 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 (DC)
The Design Computing (DC) 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 (MM)
The Material Matters (MM) 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 whose 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.
The Sustainability (SUS) 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.
Marilia RodriguesB.Arch. in Architecture 2002
Marilia Rodrigues is a principal at KieranTimberlake, an internationally recognized architecture firm noted for its commitment to research, innovation, and invention. She brings multiple technologies, voices, and talents together to achieve award-winning designs.
Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library
Computational Textiles Lab
Stuckeman Family Building
Professor of Architecture; Affiliate faculty member: Penn State Rock Ethics Institute
Sandra Staub’s research focuses on how our built environment shapes, and is shaped by, our understanding of culture. As a member of the Department of Architecture’s Culture, Society and Space Research Cluster, Staub has supervised research projects that have examined cultural aspects of housing and urban spaces in countries as diverse as the United States, Russia, China and Iran. Her recent book, “The Routledge Companion to Modernity, Space and Gender,” looks at modernity in various cultural contexts, how this concept is expressed spatially through architecture and urban form, and how this has affected women in their everyday lives.
Architecture and Landscape Architecture Summer CampStuckeman Family Building
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