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.
My Penn State education has influenced my career by developing me into a global citizen, through exposure to different people, resources, industries, cultures, and places.
Samantha JosaphatB.Arch. in Architecture 2012
Samantha Josaphat is an architect and the founder of STUDIO 397 Architecture. Part of the mere 0.3 percent of black female architects registered in the United States, she is the 397th living black female architect to be licensed. Samantha entered the Penn State Architecture program in 2007, and by 2012, she had traveled to ten countries, become a member of the Arts and Architecture Student Council, and founded the Penn State student chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS). While at Penn State she built herself a valuable network of resources that continues to shape her path to success. Samantha is the 2019 president of the New York chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects. Learn more about how Samantha’s firm is impacting the narrative of black female architects in this video.
Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library
Computational Textiles Lab
Stuckeman Career Development Professor in Design
Pep Avilés is a historian, architect, and professor specializing in postwar and contemporary architecture. His academic research explores the impact media had on the materiality of architecture and the redefinition of modernism after World War II.
Avilés’ work has been sponsored by the Canadian Center for Architecture, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Getty Research Center, and has been exhibited at the Centre de Cultura Contemporànea de Barcelona (2017) and the Oslo Architecture Triennale (2019), among others. He is the founding editor of the journal Faktur: Documents and Architecture.
News from A&A
College faculty highlighted in latest 'Research Penn State'
The College of Arts and Architecture is well-represented in the latest issue of Research Penn State. Check out the fall 2021 edition, which features articles on 3D printing and the use