Jun 17, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2015-2016 
Rensselaer Catalog 2015-2016 [Archived Catalog]

School of Architecture

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Dean: Evan Douglis

Associate Dean: Mark Mistur

Head, Graduate Programs:  Chris Perry

School of Architecture home page: http://www.arch.rpi.edu

Significant changes are occurring within the discipline and profession of architecture in the areas of globalization, interdisciplinary teamwork, emerging technologies, and an increased awareness of the environment. Together with a strong creative focus on design, these issues are at the core of Rensselaer’s undergraduate and graduate architecture programs. The school offers semester-long international study programs in Italy, India, and China; a studio culture that encourages study and research between disciplines; and the most ambitious applications of information-based design and technology integration while encouraging critical thinking and awareness of human and social consequence. In addition, Architecture’s newest program in Built Ecologies, based at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in New York City allows both undergraduates and graduates to study and work on the latest advances in sustainable technologies and next-generation building systems and designs. An estimated faculty of 35 includes a complement of clinical and adjunct professors drawn from research and practices across the region centering their instruction on design, which is the core of the professional experience.

These same qualities characterize Rensselaer’s uniquely positioned graduate programs in Architectural Acoustics, Built Ecologies, and Lighting, as well as the three-and-a-half-year professional master’s degree that is designed for those with undergraduate degrees in other fields. Each of these focuses on aspects of technology appropriate to Rensselaer and incorporates program elements of Rensselaer’s nationally renowned Lighting Research Center. The Doctor of Philosophy in Architectural Sciences degree supports research and scholarship across all areas of graduate study.

To both its undergraduate and graduate students, Rensselaer’s School of Architecture offers an outstanding collection of resources and state-of-the-art facilities. Rensselaer’s Architecture Library, the only branch library on the campus, is located at the center of the school and is a major student, faculty, and professional resource. This library contains over 30,000 books and periodicals, both domestic and foreign, as well as a loan collection of over 100,000 slides on contemporary and historical buildings, structural design, building technology, city planning, and fine arts. It also holds a collection of maps and architectural drawings. The collection has grown to include digital resources such as on-line image collections and databases and access to full text research tools as well as acquiring architecture-related material in various media formats such as videotapes, DVDs, and CD-ROMs. (More information can be found at the library’s Web site: http://library.rpi.edu/architecture).

To prepare students to become leaders in an increasingly complex and changing world, the School maintains a wide range of specialized facilities that support research activity and enhance education with emerging technologies.

The Digital Fabrications Lab, closely linked to the design studios provides the latest technologies for fabrication and prototyping of design work. Dedicated facilities for 3-axis routing/milling, laser cutting, rapid prototyping (3D printing), structural testing and analysis and ceramics research, complements a fully equipped woodworking shop for both students and researchers. The digital lab provides critical fabrication technologies necessary to respond effectively to an increasing emphasis on technology in architecture at this moment in history. 

The Digital Futures Computer Lab is the newest addition to the School of Architecture. With the acquisition of (32) high-end workstations, integrated video conferencing, a render farm and robust software application tools this new lab provides an ideal setting to explore advanced parametric design available in any school of architecture throughout the US. The Digital Futures Computer Lab is directly linked to the Fabrications Lab, and offered in combination empowers our students to work seamlessly between virtual and physical modeling. 

Architectural Acoustics research facilities include a testing room with a hemi-anechoic chamber, a binaural listening and auralization test station, computer labs, coupled laboratory spaces with two 24-channel loudspeaker systems, video projection, and INET 2 connection for multimodal (audio/visual/haptic) telepresence research, scale-model reverberation and anechoic chambers, specialized acoustic laboratory equipment, advanced acoustics vibration measurement systems, laser doppler vibrometers, and acoustic modeling and computation software. 

The Lighting Research Center (LRC), housed in a 30,000 square foot facility in the historic Gurley Building in downtown Troy, has state-of-art equipment and the ability to perform research in diverse areas of lighting. The LRC also maintains the necessary measurement equipment, computer-aided optical design capabilities, and workshop required to produce and evaluate fully functional prototypes and models.  These facilities and existing equipment represent one of the best-equipped university-based lighting laboratories in the United States.  

The Laboratory of Human-Environment Interaction Research; the Solar and Microclimate Laboratory, field study facilities, and various other laboratories associated with research at the Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE) round out a robust research and testing capability.

In addition to the School of Architecture’s rich array of well-equipped faciliteis, the Polytechnic research university setting at Rensselaer provides students, faculty, and the researchers access to many other facilities, inter- and cross-disciplinary opportunities.

This combination of excellent programs contemporary and well-equipped facilities and exemplary educators providing top-tier instruction and mentorship to our students collectively represents the essential attributes required for a leading architectural program in the beginning of the 21st century.

Equipment, Supplies, and Travel

Design studios form the core of architectural education at Rensselaer.  Project based instruction with a faculty to student ratio of approximately one to 12 provides an inspired setting where synthesis of knowledge and creativity are celebrated as a holistic project. Most studio courses do not require textbooks, but rely heavily on software, printing, and modeling. Students should anticipate costs associated with the purchase of materials. First-year students will have an opportunity to purchase a basic kit with the tools needed for their design studio. A technology fee is assessed to cover some, but not all, of the software and services provided to the students. Travel and field trips to nearby cities are also a regular and strategic part of the design curriculum. Students should also be prepared to cover costs associated with regional travel.

Degrees Offered


Architecture B.Arch., M.Arch. I, M.Arch II
Building Sciences B.S.
Architectural Sciences M.S., Ph.D.
  Concentration in Architectural Acoustics  
  Concentration in Built Ecologies  

Concentration in Lighting

Lighting M.S

Overview of Undergraduate Programs

The School of Architecture offers a five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree. The Bachelor of Architecture is a professional degree accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board. Approximately 60 students are admitted directly into the program each year.

As a professional program designed for those ready to begin architectural study in the first year, the School of Architecture’s admissions decisions are based on the following criteria: overall academic excellence, creativity (demonstrated through work in the arts and other associated areas), and clear evidence of an inspired individual committed to receiving a rigorous exploratory and comprehensive education.

Application Requirements

The School encourages visiting the campus and the Greene Building, home of the School of Architecture, along with a faculty interview. Architecture candidates are required to submit a creative portfolio with their application. The School of Architecture prefers that applicants use the online portfolio system https://rpi.slideroom.com/  to upload digital files. A digital submission makes it easier for all applicants to format their matieral as well as accelerates the evaluation process for prospective students applying as freshmen or transfers into the B. Arch. Professional Program. Students with unusually strong academic profiles may be reviewed without the portfolio (GPA of 3.5). Please note that such cases are exceptionally rare and that in all cases a portfolio is preferred. For portfolio requirements visit http://admissions.rpi.edu/undergraduate/visit/tours.html.

Transfer Students

We welcome students who have completed architecture course work at other schools to apply as transfer students to Rensselaer. Upon acceptance, transfer students are placed at an appropriate level in the professional program based on a review of their transcript, course descriptions, and work portfolio.

Overview of Graduate Programs

Rensselaer’s School of Architecture offers both master’s and doctoral level graduate programs.

Master’s Programs

The School of Architecture offers a number of distinct master’s degrees. The Master of Architecture I is a first professional degree. It is accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board for students already holding at least a baccalaureate degree in another field. This degree’s course of study parallels much of the course and studio requirements for the Bachelor of Architecture program. Approximately 12 students are admitted to this program annually.

The remaining master’s programs are advanced degrees in architecture, architectural sciences, and related fields. They include:

  • Master of Architecture II
  • Master of Science in Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Architectural Acoustics)
  • Master of Science in Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Built Ecologies)
  • Master of Science in Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Lighting)
  • Master of Science in Lighting

Doctoral Programs

The Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences is a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary degree supporting research and scholarship across the many topics arising from the theory and practice of architecture and the built environment. It is open to candidates with a professional degree in architecture and those with degrees in related design fields from science, engineering, and the humanities.

Although the discipline of architecture has a strong and complex knowledge base, its essential nature causes it to synthesize the knowledge produced in many other fields, from sociology and history to information technology and the performance of materials. The degree is aimed at producing a context for the advanced study and research between architecture and appropriate areas of science, engineering, and the humanities.

Those pursuing doctoral study in Architectural Sciences at Rensselaer may select from three areas of concentration. They include:

  • Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Architectural Acoustics)
  • Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Built Ecologies)
  • Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences (Concentration in Lighting)

as well as in emerging areas of specialization in aspects of architecture and technology.

Research Innovations and Initiatives

Communication Acoustics The School of Architecture faculty is renowned for its acoustic consulting expertise and academic research in areas of communication acoustics such as advanced techniques for computational modeling of room acoustics. Current research includes the modeling and perception of coupled acoustical spaces, perception of early reflections due to scattering of sound by rough surfaces and the fine structure of reverberation, room sound coloration, and telepresence questions involving cross-modal interaction between visual and acoustical stimuli, as well as interaction between tactile and aural stimuli.

Acoustics of Concert Halls and Other Performance Venues and Classrooms
The School of Architecture faculty is also renowned for its acoustic consulting expertise in designing performance venues and worship spaces. Architecture faculty and graduate students have traveled to different halls, such as Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, Texas; Boston Symphony Hall, Boston, Mass.; Troy First Niagara Savings Bank Hall, Troy, N.Y.; and Saint Patrick’s Church, Watervliet, N.Y.; to measure acoustical properties and acoustical energy coupling with monaural and binaural receivers. A more recent emphasis is on classrooms where poor acoustics are detrimental to learning. Research and design in this area includes computer modeling and experimentation with scale models as well as measurement and analysis in existing facilities. Ease of Hearing in Various Classroom Geometries, a recently completed thesis project, involved modeling various geometries using acoustics prediction software. Other studies concern sound propagation and scattering using physical scale models, diffusivity of reverberation, etc.

The acoustical analog of visualization aims to recreate sound fields from computational models of spaces. Current core research includes the development of more accurate mathematical models for room acoustics, determination of accurate scattering and diffraction coefficients for performance-hall design and modeling, and subjective studies on the effect of sound quality on human performance, including productivity, ease of hearing, and hearing comfort.

Electronic Enhancement of Acoustical Communication Over Large Distances
This work focuses on the development of “acoustic telepresence systems” that will provide an unmatched auditory sense of presence across distances. This research is an essential aural counterpart to current research in computer-mediated visual technologies, with possible applications in teleconferencing, distance education, games, and virtual reality.

Measurement Techniques for Room Acoustics
New measurement technologies can be used for more effective representation of sound fields, leading to a better understanding of physical phenomena and aiding acousticians in the design process.

Synthetic Sensing and Synthetic Environments
Current research includes the experimental development of alternative sensory methods for individuals and the development and testing of immersive and augmented electronic environments for teleperformance and design collaboration. A guiding principle of the research is the complementary nature of media, computation, space, and the body rather than the substitution of human skills or spatial conditions with computer technology.

Computational Acoustics and Computer-mediated Design Processes
This research area is primarily concerned with Computer-Aided Design and the redefinition of the design process. The computer is envisioned as a medium for opening up new possibilities for architectural and urban design, rather than a tool for performing well-known tasks more quickly and cheaply. New design algorithms, new roles of computing in the client-designer-builder network, and new design processes are at the core of research in this area.

Product and Transmission Sound Quality
The product sound quality approach is firmly based in psychoacoustics and psychology. Using jury evaluations, the sound perception of humans is investigated with the ambition of finding new, psychoacoustically relevant sound metrics. The research includes simulation and modeling of the sound quality for products such as automobiles or appliances. Work in transmission sound quality focuses on the effect of transmission inaccuracies of speech systems, linear and nonlinear distortion in microphones and loudspeakers, and in related applications.

Light and Health
The Lighting Research Center continues to expand research initiatives in the area of light of health. Investigations include the role of lighting in the mitigation of diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Seasonal Affective Disorder and the interaction of lighting with the human circadian and other biological systems. This research has far-reaching implications in the areas of medical research, photobiology, biotechnology, engineering, and related sciences.

Solid State Lighting
Solid state lighting is one of the fastest growing areas in lighting technology today with wide implications for all areas of lighting including architecture, transportation, and information technology. The Lighting Research Center has developed core competencies in this area and works to expand research in solid state lighting development and application.

Energy policy
With growing need for electricity nation-wide and increasing societal pressure to avoid building new generation plants and transmission lines, there is increasing need for research in the area of “demand/response” technologies. These technologies can be used to decrease electric demand at peak times quickly without negatively impacting employee comfort or productivity. Lighting plays a key role in this area, and the Lighting Research Center research assists the development of demand/response technologies and policies.

Intelligent Roadway Systems
With the increasing complexity and congestion of roadways throughout the United States and the development of new communication and information technologies, lighting plays a key role in the transmission of information to drivers. The Lighting Research Center researches the development of lighting as part of intelligent roadway systems.

Innovation of Emerging Building Techniques
Research includes the technologies and infrastructural systems driven by sustainable approaches to ecologies and building within them towards the development of radically new buildings systems, structures, and environments that are informed by the behavior of natural systems and/or performance characteristics of emergent technologies.

Dynamic Shading Window System (DSWS)
DSWS uses a newly developed solar-energy technology to convert the sun’s light and diverted heat into storable energy that can be used to efficiently heat, cool, and artificially light an office building. Photovoltaic devices convert light into power to run tracking motors embedded in the building’s interior walls. The remaining energy is used for heat, air conditioning, and artificial lighting. Surplus energy can be stored. The advent of thinner, smarter materials allows application of existing technologies to systems that are more effective and visually unobtrusive. Tiny one square centimeter solar cells are one of the new technologies being incorporated in the DSWS.

Active Building Envelope (ABE)
The patented Active Building Envelope (ABE) system uses a photovoltaic (PV) system to collect and convert sunlight into electricity. That power is delivered to a series of thermoelectric (TE) heat-pumps that are integrated into a building envelope. Depending on the direction of the electric current supplied to the TE heat-pump system, the sun’s energy can be used to make the inside space warmer or cooler. ABE systems operate on the micrometer scale using thin-film photovoltaic and thin-film thermoelectric materials, potentially resulting in extremely thin (less than 500 µm) ABE-surfaces, functioning as a thermal coating system for both new and existing building surfaces. The ABE system on the micrometer scale leads to a new class of materials whose thermal conductivity would no longer be determined by thickness. Research in this areas focuses on the design and optimization of a prototype on the micrometer scale.

Design Research—An Interdisciplinary Model
With the intention of innovating solutions that address the complexity of pressing ecological problems facing our built environments, the built ecologies program positions the interdisciplinary role of architectural design as a catalyst for inspired collective invention. The discipline of Architecture has conventionally been an assimilator and integrator of information and technologies that span many scales and knowledge bases, from infrastructural engineering to material science, and synergistically cross-pollinating highly specialized emerging technologies. With a dedication to the discovery of new knowledge and innovative application of new techniques and technologies to infrastructure and building design, the program catalyzes the transfer of scientific knowledge and technology between disciplines and industries. The aim is to support investigations into, and dissemination of emergent sustainable approaches and technologies of building design, construction, and maintenance.

Faculty * 


Douglis, E.M. Arch.(Harvard University); digital design and fabrication.

Associate Dean

Mistur, M.—M.S. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); architectural design, emerging technology, interdisciplinary Architecture and Engineering practices.


Goebel, J.—M.A. (Staaliche Hochschule fur Music and Theater); music composition and performance.

Dyson, A.—M.Arch. (Yale University); architectural design, structures technology, multidisciplinary design theory and ecology.

Figueiro, M. G.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); light and health, human factors in lighting and energy efficiency.

Leslie, R.—M.Arch. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); lighting, daylighting, architecture, environmental comfort technologies.

Narendran, N.—Ph.D. (University of Rhode Island); solid state lighting, light emitting diode (LED) fiber-optic sensors, geometric and physical optics.

Rea, M.—Ph.D. (Ohio State University); vision science, non-visual effects of light, circadian rhythms, lighting engineering, photometry, light pollution, agricultural lighting, and transportation lighting.

Associate Professors

Bell, D.—M.Arch. (University of Virginia); architectural design, theory, and history.

Braasch, J.—Ph.D. Engineering & Music (Ruhr-Bochum University, Germany); architectural acoustics, psychoacoustics.

Krueger, T.—Ph.D. (RMIT, Melbourne, Australia); human-environment interaction, architecture of extreme environments, design.

Markov, I.—Ph.D. (Cornell University); structures, systems, forms, masonry, practice.

Oatman, M.—M.F.A. (State University of New York at Albany); drawing, design, painter and installation artist.

Vollen, J.—M.Arch. II (Cranbrook Academy of Art); emerging material technologies, digital fabrication, advanced systems integration based on natural analogues.

Xiang, N.—Ph.D. (Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany); architectural acoustics, acoustic signal processing.

Assistant Professors

Combs, L.—M. S. AAD (Columbia University); building and city design, experimental structures, efficient material systems research, computation and materialism, and environmental structures.

Crembil, G.—M.Arch. (Cranbrook Academy of Art); architectural design, tactical technology.

Diniz, N.—MSc, Ph.D. (Bartlett, UCL, UK); adaptive and interactive materials, wearable and mobile computing, real time environmental sensing.

Perry, C.—M.Arch. (Columbia University); interdisciplinary design, technology futurism, responsive systems.

Rempel, A.—Ph.D. Biology (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); bioclimatic design, passive solar heating, natural ventilation, application of ecological techniques to buildign research.

Titus, A.M.F.A. (University of Chicago), B.Arch. (Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art); architectural and artistic studio practice.


Comodromos, D.—M.S. AAD (Columbia University); architectural design; practice and politics; materials and construction.

Dayem, A.—M.Arch. (Columbia University); RA; architectural research and design, design methodologies.

Hower, F.—M.Arch, MLA (University of Pennsylvania); architecture and landscape architecture design, research, and computational methodologies.

Ngai, T.—M.Arch. (Harvard University); architectural design, emerging technologies, emerging practice.

Oksiuta, Z.—(Department of Architecture of the Warsaw Technical University, Department History of Art, Technical University, Aachen, Germany); next generation biological habitats.

Perez-Guembe, E.—M.S. AAD, AAR (Columbia University); architectural research and design, design methodology.

Emeritus Faculty

Boyce, P.—Ph.D. (University of Reading); human factors.

Haviland, D.—M.Arch. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); building industry, management, economics.

Kroner, W.—M.Arch. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); resources and sustainable architecture, advanced building technologies, futurism, and architectural design.

Parsons, P.—B.Arch. (Cornell University); architectural design, theory, and history.

Pertuiset, N.—Hons. Dipl. Arch. and Theory (Architectural Association); architectural design and theory.

Quinn, P.—M.Arch. (University of Pennsylvania); theory and architectural design, institutional and community facilities.

Adjunct and Visiting Faculty

Bierman, A.—M.S. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); mesopic vision, color vision, lighting controls, measurement of lighting efficiency.

Brons, J.—M.S. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); lighting design, sustainable/green lighting practice, lighting evaluation, outdoor lighting.

Bitonti, F.M.Arch. (Pratt Institute); architecture design, computational and algorithmic design.

Brooks, T.MPL (Yale University); architectural acoustics.

Bullough, J.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); transportation lighting and safety, visual performance and visibility, behavorial responses to lighting.

Chen, X.—MPS (New York University); kinetic systems, physical computing architecture design, computational and algorithmic design.

Churchill, E. - M.Arch, MBA (University of Oregon); architectural design, virtual design and construction, design and construction integration.

Draper, J.—M.Arch (Columbia University); architectural design, computational design, digital fabrication.

Duman, K.—M.Arch (University California Los Angeles); RA, LEED, AP; architectural reserach and design, design emethodologies.

Erel, Y.—M.Arch. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); RA; architectural design.

Fessel, M.—M.Arch II (The Cooper Union): architecture research, ecological urbanism, biological design. 

Frering, D.—M.S. (North Adams State College); lighting education, energy-efficient lighting, lighting economics.

Freyssinier–Nova, J.P.—M.S. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); solid-state lighting, lighting design and applications, energy efficiency, technology transfer.

Holmes, O.—B.S. Mechanical Engineering (Syracuse University); HVAC, building systems, energy management.

Ionescu, S.—B.Arch. (Pratt Institute); architecture design, contemporary and experimental practice.

Joachim, M.—Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); architecture research, ecological urban design, and synthetic biology. 

Kohli, V.—M.Sc. Sustainable Environmental Design (Architectural Association); architectural design, high-performance and sustainable design with focus on building envelopes.

Laufs, W.— Ph.D., Dipl.-Ing. (RWTH, University of Aachen, Germany); facade engineering, specialty structures, force and energy flow.

Leitao, C.—M.S. Arch. (Columbia University); architecture design, ubiquity and networks, advanced materiality and space.

Liu, E.—M.S. AAD (Columbia University); architectural design, design methodologies, fabrication, design visualization and animation.

Moran, B.—Ph.D. (Harvard University Graduate School of Design); history and theory of architecture, architectural design.

Phillips, K.—B.S. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); building physics, system instrumentation and testing, energy efficiency.

Pincus, A.—M.Arch. (Columbia University); architectural design and development.

Rainey, T.—B.S.M.E. (Oregon State University); energy efficiency and sustainability.

Reilly, S.—B.Arch. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); architectural design, practice, preservation technology.

Snyder, J.—M.S. (University of Nevada, Reno); lighting, energy efficiency, product testing.

Stover, K.—M.Arch. (Yale University); architecture design, practice, emerging digital techniques.

Thompsen, L.—M.Arch. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); architectural design, digital media, analysis based design.

Van de Riet, K.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); architectural and integrative design, with focus on ecology and the built environment.

Wadhwa, A.—M.S. Lighting (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); architectural lighting design, systems integration and new technologies, sustainable systems, green practices, luminaire design.

Yazdanseta, F.—M.Arch (University of Maryland); architectural design and representation.

Zhu, Y.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); solid-state lighting, photometry, optical design.

Bedford Visiting Professor

Laufs, W.—Ph.D., PE, IWE, LEED AP (RWTH, University of Aachen, Germany); Structural, facade engineering and specialty structures, force energy flow.

* Departmental faculty listings are accurate as of the date generated for inclusion in this catalog. For the most up-to-date listing of faculty positions, including end-of-year promotions, please refer to the Faculty Roster section of this catalog, which is current as of the May 2015 Board of Trustees meeting.




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