Research Projects-School of Architecture - Carnegie Mellon University

The School of Architecture contributes significantly as a leader in fundamental research and innovative applications in the use of computers and building technology. Our pioneering tradition continues in new and unique focus areas, including Sustainable Design, Tangible Interaction Design, and Urban Design. The following are just a few examples of our exciting research...

Urban Design Build Studio (UDBS) is a design collaborative in which students from the Urban Lab studio at Carnegie Mellon's School of Architecture work with a variety of local individuals and organizations to both design and build architectural interventions for nearby communities in need. This year-long process provides students the opportunity to physically realize a project of their own design, while empowering them with valuable hands-on experience and meaningful community service.

The Stone Soup and Affordable Rehab project: In partnership with ACTION Housing, this project focuses on renovation and collaborative redevelopment in Pittsburgh's Hazelwood community. The School of Architecture is one of seven university programs from among five countries to receive a grant from Pillars of Sustainable Education, a $1.5 million program created by Alcoa Foundation and Architecture for Humanity to support graduate education in sustainability and to explore the use of sustainable materials in architecture and community design. Each university teams with an NGO to execute a community-based project; the School of Architecture's partner, ACTION Housing, has a long and successful history in Pittsburgh. See a press release about the grant and project.

Intelligent Workplace Energy Supply System (IWESS) is an integrated set of components that uses solar thermal energy and a renewable liquid fuel to provide power, cooling, heating, and ventilation for Carnegie Mellon’s Intelligent Workplace (IW).  The objective of the IWESS is to provide a healthy, productive, and comfortable environment for the occupants of the IW and to reduce the primary energy requirements for its operation by a factor of two.

Computationally Enhanced Construction Kits and Crafts Construction toys for building physical models have played a powerful role in children’s lives, although traditional constructions tend to be aesthetically and behaviorally limited. In the Computational Design (CoDe) Lab, students and faculty are utilizing embedded computation, to allow kit pieces to communicate with each other, desktop machines, and users. Through projects like Cubelets construction kits are being integrated with computation, allowing their power and expressiveness to be increased.

National Environmental Assessment Toolkit (NEAT) has been established to develop the goals and methods for undertaking field research in parallel with innovative workplace design to definitively demonstrate the role of real estate and facilities in individual and organizational effectiveness. The Center for Building Performance is building evaluation protocols linking environmental, technical and spatial quality to individual and organizational effectiveness.

Computer-Aided Design for Sustainable Building
The advent of building information modeling (BIM) has facilitated model change and propagation via parametric object-oriented representation. BIM is an ideal place to integrate a sustainable building rating system to aid in sustainable building design. The project seeks to assist designers with objective assessments of sustainable design.

Solar Decathlon Every two years, the US Department of Energy invites university teams to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house. Competing in a prominent international student competition and building an educational resource dedicated to environmental issues is symbolic of everything Carnegie Mellon stands for: fusing art and technology; collaborating on a multi–disciplinary basis; improving energy effectiveness and environmental responsibility; learning in a hands–on fashion; and impacting regional and global issues. Carnegie Mellon competed in the 2002, 2005 and 2007 competitions.

Micro-Electro-Mechanical Devices for Structural Sensing (MEMS) devices (micro-electro-mechanical systems) are microchips, fabricated like integrated circuits, to create structures at the microscale, less than 1/10,000th of an inch.  This technology can be used to build ultrasonic resonators that serve as sensors for acoustic emissions, to detect the progress of fatigue cracking in structures such as bridges.

Diabetes Prevention and Treatment Programs for Western PA Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are computer-based applications designed for the storage, retrieval and analysis of geographically referenced data. GIS can generate maps using a wide array of physical, biological, cultural, demographic and economic information. Most health care experts agree that no single factor is responsible for childhood obesity. Rather, the causes are complex, with many attributions. Among these are genetics, socioeconomic issues, excess food consumption and the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of many of today’s children. GIS can be a very powerful tool to uniquely analyze the many causes contributing to this epidemic.

Building Investment Decision Support Tool (BIDS™) is a case-based cost-benefit analysis tool to support investments in advanced and innovative building systems that improve environmental quality, health and productivity in buildings. The project continues to identify laboratory and field case studies demonstrating the relationship of high performance components, flexible infrastructures and systems integration to the range of cost-benefit and productivity indices. The team is also expanding the data base to include productivity, health, and operations costs, with baseline data sets to support lifecycle decisionmaking.