Graduate Architecture

  • Opening Spring 2017, PennDesign’s Robotics Lab supports work by the Autonomous Manufacturing Lab.

  • The Polyhedral Structures Lab (PSL) is a research unit concentrating on advancing structural geometry and construction technologies.

  • The interior of Italian church Sant’Agnese in Agone (architects: Francesco Borromini, Girolamo Rainaldi and Carlo Rainaldi), imaged by the Baroque Topologies Lab. 

Advanced Research & Innovation Lab

The Advanced Research & Innovation Lab (ARI) brings together the combined expertise of PennDesign faculty members with state-of-the art fabrication, measurement and modeling technologies.

ARI is led by Professor and Chair of Architecture Winka Dubbeldam and comprises a wide variety of research groups: the Autonomous Manufacturing Lab (Assistant Professor of Architecture Robert Stuart-Smith), the Polyhedral Structures Lab or PSL (Assistant Professor of Architecture Masoud Akbarzadeh), and the Baroque Topologies Lab (Associate Professor of Architecture Andrew Saunders), with additional initiatives in development. As part of multi-year plan to provide additional tools and facilities to support the scholarship of PennDesign faculty and students, ARI opens up vast new territories for innovation and places the School at the forefront of applied and speculative research in several domains.

Innovation in the realm of fabrication in architecture and design has taken a dramatic shift in recent years due to the increasing accessibility of industrial robotic arms. Typically, in industrial manufacturing, robotic arms are equipped to complete one repetitive task. When deployed in creative industries such as architecture, they represent an entirely novel platform for multi-task and multi-axis fabrication. Unlike computer-aided manufacturing tools that are designed to do one operation, robotic arms provide up to seven degrees of multi-axis freedom and can be equipped with a limitless array of specialized tools. In addition to augmenting traditional subtractive techniques, including laser cutting and milling, robotic arms carry out contemporary automated modes of additive and formative manufacturing including, but not limited to, bending, folding, 3D printing and deposition, composite material filament winding, 3D scanning, real-time sensing, and much more. Access to robotic arm technology will enable designers to develop unique routines and customize material manipulation and transformation through an endless range of end effectors.