Graduate Architecture

Pressing Matters VI

A Publication of the Department of Architecture at PennDesign

A Publication of the Department of Architecture at PennDesign

Purchase Pressing Matters 6


Last year the Department of Architecture celebrated its 125th year! With over a century of experience in innovation, we continue this tradition by pushing our identity as a laboratory for ideas, expertise and innovations, a think tank for exchanges and debates across disciplinary boundaries, and a broadcast center engaging a growing audience and international network. We promote collaborations among our various programs, with other departments, and the University at large. We invite experts from the outside to dialogue with our students and faculty. We aim to prepare the next generation of leaders, ready to evolve the discipline and renew its capacity to be an important player in the complex set of problems we face today.


Apart from our packed lecture series, we hosted two important Symposia. “Under Pressure, an Urban Housing symposium” initiated by Hina Jamelle, was held in October 2016. A group of 15 speakers, ranging from architects, developers, and cityplanners, dealt with subjects such as: Super-Hot, New Domesticities, and Speculation, the panels were moderated by Barry Bergdoll, Cliff Pearson, and Nader Tehrani.

The Spring featured the second symposium: the “PennDESIGN Women in Architecture Symposium,” organized by our women students. This was an in depth discussion on the role and input of women in architecture. The Keynote was by professor and architect Marion Weiss, and the panels were moderated by Joan Ockman, Daniela Fabricius, and Franca Trubiano, all at the Department of Architecture, PennDesign. This Symposium was featured in a Newsweek article relating to Women in Architecture. Our students received a special mention, “The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design planned a Women in Architecture symposium specifically to address the subject, saying in a statement, that though 'women comprise nearly half of architecture graduate programs in the United States, only 22 percent of licensed architects in the field are women and only 17 percent partners/principals in architecture firms.' It said it would launch a mentorship and networking scheme to increase incidence and visibility of women architects and '[cultivate] the next generation of leaders in the industry.”


Architecture is experiencing an extraordinary renaissance in it’s practice, fueled by many different sources: new technologies and materials; information technology; advances in engineering and manufacturing; globalization of culture, education and practice; 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. At PennDesign we actively promote research, as we believe that education leads practice.

We founded an Advanced Research and Innovation Lab [ARI], that is at the forefront of advanced digital research & design; one that focuses on new design methodologies and future manufacturing through the interlinked intelligence of digital design, scripting, and robotics. We recently opened a brand new Robotic Lab with ABB. 

We initiated a new Master of Science in Design [MSD] program, with a MSD-AAD [Advanced Architectural Design], an MSD-EBD [Environmental Building Design], and aim to open an MSD in Robotics in the next year. While the focus of this expansion is to deepen the pedagogical effectiveness of the program, it will also increase the offerings within Penn Design focused on design excellence, and rigorous research.


At the same time, society faces many challenges, including global warming and environmental change, pollution and waste, transition to new energy and resource economies, the redistribution and reorganization of political and economic power worldwide; globalization of the construction and development industries; population growth, shrinkage and migration; urban intensification and attrition; privatization of public sector activities; and the transformation of cultural identities and social institutions. We seek to bring the expansion of expertise and creativity in architecture to bear on these challenges. 

We will focus on social awareness and responsibility, and be a think tank for critical exchanges and advanced debates within and across disciplinary boundaries. We are a connective device through linking experts to students and faculty in dialogues, lectures, and publications, we engage a growing international audience in an increasing network of experts.


The primary mission of the Architecture Department is to educate architects through the development of the advanced design education combined with disciplinary skills, technological knowledge, and methods of inquiry into the professional practice of architecture. The Department of Architecture offers an Undergraduate major, a professionally accredited Master’s degree, two post-professional Master’s programs [MSS-AAD and the MSD-EBD], and a research-based Master of Science and Doctoral program. The Department is situated within a multi-disciplinary School of Design and a strong research University. This allows for many kinds of connections and specialized studies, including undergraduate minors, certificate studies at the Master’s level, and dual degrees in a host of disciplines. 

To further our expertise we have appointed and welcome three new tenure track faculty members: Robert Stuart Smith, Assistant professor in Architecture, Masoud Akbarzedah, Assistant professor in Architecture Structures, and Sophie Hochhäusl, Assistant professor in Architecture - History & Theory. They, together with our Standing and Associated Faculty, will be leading the Architecture Department towards a better and more responsive future.

Winka Dubbeldam, Assoc. AIA
Professor and Chair
Department of Architecture

WSDIA design
Editors: Winka Dubbeldam, Scott Loeffler, Maria Teicher

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