Jul 18, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2024-2025 
Rensselaer Catalog 2024-2025


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Undergraduate Programs

The five-year Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) curriculum centers on the design studio and culminates in a year-long research and design project. Theoretical, technological, and computational and historical issues are progressively integrated into studio projects beginning in the first year. Projects range in scale and form, but relate to issues in contemporary culture with a focus on globalization and urban contexts.

This degree program is described in detail below.

Students in the School of Architecture undergraduate program are required to complete courses in the sciences, humanities, arts, and social sciences as part of the Institute core requirements. The core courses are structured to provide exposure and breadth of education. A series of professional electives and free elective courses provide students the opportunity to pursue specific interests in greater depth, to minor, or to pursue other special interests.

In addition to Institute-wide academic regulations outlined earlier in this catalog, the following pertain to the bachelor’s program in architecture:

  • Advancement in Design—Students not passing a required design course (including Final Project Design Studio) may not advance to the next course in the design sequence. The architecture faculty will review students earning grades of D or lower in required design courses. A student earning a D or lower in any subsequent required design course must either repeat the course or take another course specified by the faculty before advancing to the next course in the design sequence. Students who fail to earn a grade of C or better in the repeated or specified course, or who earn a third grade of D or lower in design, may not continue in the design sequence. A student earning an F in any course must repeat the course in addition to completing any remedial actions specified by the faculty after a second grade of D or lower in a required design studio.
  • Grades of “I”—In Final Project 1 or 2 ‘I’ grades will convert to a grade of “F” three years after the issue of the original “I” grade.  Students applying for readmission to complete Final Project 1 or 2 after three years will be required to restart the new Final Project current sequence which includes a 3-credit seminar and the 5-credit Final Project Design Studio.
  • Retention of Student Design Work—All student drawings and models produced as part of the instructional program are the property of the Institute. The School of Architecture reserves the right to retain any or all work produced by the students in the school for a temporary or permanent time period.

Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum

Through the combination of School of Architecture’s curricular and non-curricular activities the students who complete this program will either meet or exceed the current program and student criteria as defined by the NAAB 2020 Conditions, while pursuing innovative approaches to architectural education and professional preparation:

PC.1 Career Paths—students understand the paths to becoming licensed as an architect in the United States and the range of available career opportunities that utilize the discipline’s skills and knowledge.

PC.2 Design—the role of the design process in shaping the built environment and conveys the methods by which design processes integrate multiple factors, in different settings and scales of development, from buildings to cities.

PC.3 Ecological Knowledge and Responsibility— a holistic understanding of the dynamic between built and natural environments, enabling future architects to mitigate climate change responsibly by leveraging ecological, advanced building performance, adaptation, and resilience principles in their work and advocacy activities.

PC.4 History and Theory—students understand the histories and theories of architecture and urbanism, framed by diverse social, cultural, economic, and political forces, nationally and globally.

PC.5 Research and Innovation—students engage and participate in architectural research to test and evaluate innovations in the field.

PC.6 Leadership and Collaboration—students understand approaches to leadership in multidisciplinary teams, diverse stakeholder constituents, and dynamic physical and social contexts, and learn how to apply effective collaboration skills to solve complex problems.

PC.7 Learning and Teaching Culture—the program fosters and ensures a positive and respectful environment that encourages optimism, respect, sharing, engagement, and innovation among its faculty, students, administration, and staff.

PC.8 Social Equity and Inclusion—the program furthers and deepens students’ understanding of diverse cultural and social contexts and helps them translate that understanding into built environments that equitably support and include people of different backgrounds, resources, and abilities.


SC.1 Health, Safety, and Welfare in the Built Environment - the program ensures that students understand the impact of the built environment on human health, safety, and welfare at multiple scales, from buildings to cities.

SC.2 Professional Practice—How the program ensures that students understand professional ethics, the regulatory requirements, the fundamental business processes relevant to architecture practice in the United States, and the forces influencing change in these subjects.

SC.3 Regulatory Context—the program ensures that students understand the fundamental principles of life safety, land use, and current laws and regulations that apply to buildings and sites in the United States, and the evaluative process architects use to comply with those laws and regulations as part of a project.

SC.4 Technical Knowledge—the program ensures that students understand the established and emerging systems, technologies, and assemblies of building construction, and the methods and criteria architects use to assess those technologies against the design, economics, and performance objectives of projects.

SC.5 Design Synthesis—the program ensures that students develop the ability to make design decisions within architectural projects while demonstrating synthesis of user requirements, regulatory requirements, site conditions, and accessible design, and consideration of the measurable environmental impacts of their design decisions.

SC.6 Building Integration—the program ensures that students develop the ability to make design decisions within architectural projects while demonstrating integration of building envelope systems and assemblies, structural systems, environmental control systems, life safety systems, and the measurable outcomes of building performance.

Minor Programs

A minor consists of an approved 16-credit program. Minors in other disciplines offered at Rensselaer are available to students and are highly encouraged. The most common minors are in the Schools of Management, Architectural Acoustics, Lighting, Humanties, Arts, and Social Sciences, and Science. A minor in Civil Engineering has been especially designed for Architecture majors with some overlap in courses.

The School of Architecture offers minor options for both School of Architecture students and students majoring in other Rensselaer programs. These options are described in the Programs section of this catalog.

Special Undergraduate Opportunities

Study Abroad Programs

International study is a defining aspect of Rensselaer’s architectural education. The School of Architecture offers international semester-long programs of study in Italy and Latin America. These programs are fully integrated with the requirements of the undergraduate degree and have been established in two world cities that will challenge and help to define the future of architecture. Each of these programs is open, by competitive application, to students in their fifth or sixth semester. Limited numbers of students (B.Arch.) are selected each year based on academic accomplishment and their portfolio application. In addition to a Rensselaer faculty member who travels with and directs the program, adjunct faculty in the host city or institution also provide instruction. There is a program fee for participation in each of these programs, which are described briefly below.

  • Italy Program—(ALTERNATE FALL SEMESTERS): The Italian studies program includes a design studio based in Rome, an examination of the architectural and urban development of Rome, courses in Italian language and culture, and travel throughout Italy. The program seeks to deepen appreciation of historic cities and the layers of culture that have played a seminal role in the development of Western culture and architecture.
  • Latin America  Program—(ALTERNATE SPRING SEMESTERS): The semester in Latin America aims to actively engage students with the various architectural scenes in Latin America by establishing different itineraries for each edition. The program will include academic residencies at the architectural school of Universidad Nacional de Cordoba (Argentina) where joint-studios, seminars and other activities will be developed together with local students and faculty.
  • Bedford Traveling Workshop—(SUMMER): This international workshop sponsors the travel of six architecture students and six engineering students to an international location where concentrations of best practices and projects can be found. The workshop includes seminars at accomplished architecture and engineering practices, visits to acclaimed architectural projects, construction site visits, and a collaborative design exercise structured to catalyze interdisciplinary discourse.

Exchange Programs
Additional independent exchange and study abroad opportunities are available through the office of International Programs.

CASE New York Program
A semester-long program located in New York City is based at Rensselaer’s Center for Architecture Science and Ecology [CASE] located at Industry City, Brooklyn, New York. The program allows both B.Arch. and M.Arch. students to study in a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment focused on the development of advanced next-generation building systems and sustainable technologies.

Co-op and Internship Experiences
Architecture students may acquire co-op work experiences into their program of study. Work opportunities are available in a wide range of situations, from architecture firms large and small to design groups in industry or institutions. Co-op and internship experiences are an invaluable introduction to practice and strengthen the learning experience. Co-ops and internships that are approved by the CCPD will fulfill an ILE experience and they can sometimes be used to gain NCARB, AXP credits.

Lectures and Exhibits
The lecture and exhibition series presents the work of internationally recognized theoreticians and practitioners, providing students and faculty with exposure to current and critical ideas influencing the profession. Lectures and exhibitions are open to all Rensselaer students, faculty, and the local professional community.

Graduate Programs

The School of Architecture graduate programs include both professional Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) and (Master of Science in Architecture (M.S. in Arch.) design programs and research-based programs in the Architectural Sciences at the master’s and doctoral levels.

Design-Based Programs 

The Master of Architecture professional program (M.Arch.) is a NAAB-accredited program leading to the licensed practice of Architecture or to teaching and is open to qualified students holding a minimum of a baccalaureate degree in any discipline.

The Master of Science in Architecture program (M.S. in Arch.) is intended both for students who already have a professional degree in architecture and those interested in advanced non-professional graduate study. This one-year, 30-credit degree program opens opportunities for specialized practices or to teaching.


Research-Based Programs

The School of Architecture offers several research degrees at the master’s and doctoral levels. The Master of Science, Master of Science in Architectural Sciences, or Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences degrees offer the opportunity for advanced, focused, and intellectually rigorous study in Architectural Acoustics, Built Ecologies, or Lighting.

Requirements for all Graduate Programs

Applicant Requirements
For specific information regarding admission to the School of Architecture’s graduate programs contact the Institute’s Office of Graduate Admissions.  

Courses and Grade Requirements

Continuation in the graduate program requires satisfactory performance by the student. Satisfactory performance is not limited to the academic performance, but includes other appraisals of the student’s academic record, ability in areas such as teaching and research, and collegial interaction within a community of research and scholarship.

The minimum average of all grades used for credit toward an advanced degree must be B. If a student’s grades fall below a 3.0 average, the Office of Graduate Education may request that the Graduate Program Director conduct a formal review to determine whether continuation is warranted. The student’s adviser, with the consent of the Graduate Program Director, may recommend to the Office of Graduate Education that a student whose performance is unsatisfactory be dropped from the graduate program. A student who has accumulated two failing grades will be dropped from the graduate program. See the Master of Architecture section for additional requirements pertaining to the professional program.   

Master of Science in Architectural Sciences

Concentration Areas

Architectural Acoustics
The 30-credit, one-year degree offers an intense program of advanced study in architectural acoustics, emphasizing the room acoustics of both large and small venues, such as automobile, household, and sound control and maximization of performance spaces. Applicants should have a B.A. or B.S. in Architecture, Architectural Engineering, Music, Acoustics, Physics, or comparable fields.

Built Ecologies
This 12-month, 30-credit-hour program is designed to provide knowledge of, and creative expertise in, the design of buildings, systems, structures, and environments as informed by the dynamic behavior of natural systems and emergent technologies. Applicants should have at least an undergraduate degree in architecture or engineering or have a graduate degree in a related field, with demonstrated interest in areas relating to built systems and/or the environment. The program is located at Industry City, Brooklyn, New York.

This one-year, 30-credit-hour program of study provides an education that cultivates both a scientific and artistic understanding of the many issues involved in the development of lighting and designing with light.  Applicants are urged to complete two college-level math courses before applying to the program.

Doctoral Programs

Rensselaer’s Ph.D. program in Architectural Sciences offers concentrations in Architectural Acoustics, Built Ecologies, and Lighting or other areas of specialization in which faculty have particular interest or expertise. This research degree supports the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary investigation of a wide range of topics arising from the theory and practice of architecture and the configuration of the built environment. The School of Architecture offers the Doctor of Philosophy degree to candidates who are prepared to undertake innovative and substantive research that adds to the body of knowledge drawn on by the design disciplines. The degree provides a context for advanced study and research which combines architecture and appropriate areas of science, engineering, and the humanities. Students in the master’s program may continue into the Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences, subject to written approval by the department and Graduate Program Director. Upon successfully completing the M.S. requirements and passing the candidacy exam at the end of the summer of the first year, students may enter doctoral studies in the second year.

Each of the Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences degree concentrations have different course requirements. Significant cross-disciplinary study is encouraged not only to build on advanced work in architecture and technology emerging in the School, but also to form a program of study that draws widely on Rensselaer’s strength in other disciplines.  Individual Plans of Study are defined between student and adviser and approved by the Graduate Program Director. A candidate for the doctoral degree must complete a Plan of Study with satisfactory grades containing 72 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, including 4 credits of Doctoral Seminars, additional coursework as required, and a dissertation. Twenty-four credit hours may be transferred from the master’s degree to satisfy the basic Institute course requirements for the doctoral degree.

The dissertation must consist of a minimum of 30 and a maximum of 52 credits as approved by the doctoral committee and Graduate Program Director. At least two-thirds of the total credit hours, excluding dissertation, must contain the suffix numbers 6000–7999 with the further limitation that no more than 15 credit hours of 4000-4990 courses are to be allowed. Undergraduate courses below the 4000 level may not be used for credit toward graduate degrees, although some may be required to make up missing prerequisites.

All candidates must successfully take a qualifying exam for entry into doctoral study.

The Institute requires, without exception, degree completion for full-time students within five years for those entering with a master’s degree and within seven years for those entering with an undergraduate degree.

Faculty *


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

Acting Associate Dean

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

Associate Dean for Graduate Programs

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

Undergraduate Chair

Russo, R.—M.Arch. (Columbia University); architecture, material systems, interdisciplinary design, aesthetics, digital design.


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

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

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

Associate Professors

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

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.

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

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

Russo, R.—M.Arch. (Columbia University); architecture, material systems, interdisciplinary design, aesthetics, digital design.

Shelden, D.—Ph.D. Design and Computation (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); building information modeling, physical / digital building systems.

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

Tsamis, A.—Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); design and computation, tectonics, digital/composite materials.

Assistant Professors

Bennett, C.—M.L.A. (Harvard University); landscape history, experimental and theoretical practices, critical social and environmental studies.

Carter, M.—M.Arch. (Yale University); architecture resiliency, infrastructure, urban design.

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

Erel, Y.—M.Arch. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); architecture, design, lighting research and installation.

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

Papanikolaou, D.— Ph.D. Financial Economics (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); technological innovation and financial markets.

Yazdanseta, A.—Ph.D. Energy and Environments (Harvard University); Bioclimatic and Biogenic Envelopes at the intersection of design, building performance, and plant biophysical ecology.

Professor of Practice

Ellinger, J.—M.Arch. (Columbia University); developing and designing parametric relations to promote novelty in design.

Lee, R.M.—J.D. (New York University School of Law); entrepreneurship and architecture, management, engagement.

Najle, C.—M.Arch. (Columbia University); digital culture, ecological thinking, and complexity theory in architecture at the age of globalization, design and research methodologies, material culture.

Senior Lecturer

Loercher, J.—M.Arch. (Parsons the New School for Design); passive House design, high performance building envelopes, and advanced energy modeling.


Burgermaster, M.—M.S. AAD (Columbia University); spatial practice and material production that is entangled with social concerns and ecological processes, re-imagining the constraints of limited resources as design opportunities.

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

Grundel, E.—M.Arch, MS Historic Preservation (University of Pennsylvania); architectural design and heritage, social and tectonic intricacies of the built world.

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

Imaeda, R.—M.Arch. (University of Pennsylvania); physical and digital design production, material and representational studies.

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

Lopez, M.—M.Arch. (University of Pennsylvania), MS Design Theory and Pedagogy (SCI Arc); architectural conflation of form, aesthetics, and contemporary culture.

Moriarty, C.—M.S.D- RAS (University of Pennsylvania); design robotics and architectural fabrication.

Pekdemir, E.—M.S. Civil Engineering with concentration in Architectural Engineering (Illinois Institute of Technology); decarbonizing the built environment and helping design teams achieve better performing buildings via advanced simulations.

Petela, A.—M.Arch. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); architecture, urban growth, materialism.  

Piazzi, L.—M.Arch. (Universidad Politecnica de Madrid); architecture construction technology and material assembly, urban design.

Sehwail, W.—M.Arch. (University of Pennsylvania); architectural design, digital content, augmented reality.

Studebaker, R.—M.S.D- RAS (University of Pennsylvania); design robotics and architectural fabrication.

Troyer, K.—M.Arch. (University of Pennsylvania;) mixed fidelities through tectonics and materiality, contemporary aesthetic.

Vanmuysen, B.—M.Arch (Princeton University); architecture, design, fabrication techniques, and forms of art production.

White, C.—M.Arch (University of Pennsylvania); machine learning technology, architectural design, aesthetics.

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.

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

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.

Bedford Visiting Professor

Richarson, J.—P.E., Ph.D (Université Libre de Bruxelles); structural optimisation.

*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.

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