Graduate Architecture

Winka Dubbeldam
Miller Professor and Chair of Architecture

Letter from the Chair

Earlier this year, the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania underwent a significant change. Thanks to the generous donation of Penn alum and fashion icon Stuart Weitzman, we are now the Stuart Weitzman School of Design--where a lot of exciting things are happening!

In the Department of Architecture, we value our identity as a laboratory for ideas, expertise, and innovations; as a think tank for exchanges and debates across disciplinary boundaries; and as a broadcast center engaging a growing audience and international network. We do this through collaboration between our various programs, other departments, and external experts in the field. We aim to prepare our students as the next generation of leaders, ready to evolve the discipline and renew architecture’s capacity to offer solutions to today’s complex problems. You will find our recent faculty research and student projects in our annual publication, Pressing Matters, as well as on our website:

 https://www.design.upenn.edu/architecture/graduate/info

This upcoming Architecture Biennale in Venice 2020 will be a big showcase for Penn with several exhibits already planned. We also participated in the Architecture Biennale in Venice in 2018; Practice Professor Ferda Kolatan curated an exhibition, 12 Objects & 12 Images, that featured work from the Design Studios of faculty members Kutan Ayata, Hina Jamelle, Simon Kim, Ali Rahim, and Robert Stuart-Smith. The Biennale’s Arsenale featured Graham Chair and Professor of Architecture Marion Weiss and her partner Michael Manfredi’s immersive installation, Lines of Movement, that “examine[d] new terms and conditions for design in a century when natural resources are limited and challenged further by the interconnected issues of climate change and social isolation.” 

We continue to expand our research capabilities. We created the Advanced Research and Innovation Lab (ARI) to operate at the forefront of advanced research and design with a focus on new design methodologies and future manufacturing through the interlinked intelligence of digital design, scripting, and robotics. We recently opened our Robotic Lab featuring 3D printers and several large robotic arms.

Architecture is experiencing an extraordinary renaissance in its practice, fueled by many different sources. From new technologies and materials, information technology, advances in engineering and manufacturing, globalization of culture, education, and practice, the discipline continues to evolve. We embraced crossovers with the sciences, visual arts, and other design fields, a growing audience for design culture in general, and ecological architecture in particular, and a focus on creativity and innovation in leading schools around the world. Our strong focus on “making” was further reinforced by the expansion of our bank of Makerbot 3D printers, which now directly connect to the Design Studio and allow for students to prototype their ideas as they design them. 

We also initiated a new series of Master of Science in Design [MSD] programs in Advanced Architectural Design [MSD-AAD], Environmental Building Design [MSD-EBD], and a brand new focus on Robotics and Autonomous Systems [MSD-RAS]. While the goal of this expansion is to deepen the pedagogical effectiveness of the program, it will also increase the offerings within Weitzman focused on design excellence and in-depth design research.

To summarize, our goal is to be at the forefront of advanced research and design by creating an advanced research institute that focuses on new design methodologies and future manufacturing through the interlinked intelligence of digital design, scripting, and robotics. As we focus on social awareness and responsibility, we instigate critical exchanges and advanced debates within and across disciplinary boundaries. We aim to be a connective device between academics and architectural practitioners, who we engage in lectures, symposia, and publications, in order to grow an international collaborative network of experts for the future. DesignIntelligence ranked the Department of Architecture in their Top 10 Most Admired Graduate Programs, and maybe even more importantly, ranked us #5 in their Architecture Programs Most Hired From. We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation, graduating critically engaged students with advanced skillsets.

Join us at Weitzman School.

Winka Dubbeldam, Assoc. AIA
Professor and Chair
Department of Architecture
winka@design.upenn.edu