PJ Dick Innovation Fund Project Grant: Regenerative Structures Laboratory

Project 2024
Juney Lee, T. David Fitz-Gibbon Assistant Professor of Architecture
large industrial room with machinery

Regenerative Structures Laboratory: Seed Funding for Pilot Prototype
Juney Lee, T. David Fitz-Gibbon Assistant Professor of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon Architecture

This proposal seeks to establish the “Regenerative Structures Laboratory” at Carnegie Mellon Architecture. In order to address the greater challenges of climate change, this cutting-edge lab aims to propel the construction industry from a sustainable (minimizing harmful impact of future construction) to a more regenerative (maximizing positive impact to offset emissions from both past and future construction) design paradigm. The transdisciplinary research at the lab across the areas of 1) artificial-intelligence-driven computational structural design; 2) regenerative, renewable and circular materials; and 3) sustainable construction methods, are united by an effort to design and materialize building structures – the largest contributor to a building’s embodied energy – more responsibly through emerging digital technologies that are scalable and accessible to a broader range of social and economic contexts.

The funding will be utilized for the construction of the lab’s first 1-to-1 built “Pilot” prototype, serving as a proof-of-concept demonstrator to showcase large-scale structural application of regenerative materials and validate the lab’s initial research hypotheses. The grant will primarily fund a dedicated 3D printer, which will play a crucial role in the development of the prototype as well as become a versatile and vital resource for all future research activities within the lab. Successful completion of the prototype will not only help launch the lab, but also pave the way for future funding opportunities from PJ Dick and other industry partners. The subsequent publications and dissemination of research results through various media streams will establish Carnegie Mellon Architecture and PJ Dick as emerging leaders in revolutionizing the construction industry in the greater Pittsburgh area and beyond.

Image Credit: Juney Lee

About the Project Lead

T. David Fitz-Gibbon Assistant Professor of Architecture

  • Project grants support projects that address the school’s three pedagogical challenges: climate change, social justice and artificial intelligence. The grants support the diverse work of Carnegie Mellon Architecture’s faculty in creative practice, professional practice, artistic practice, funded research, participatory design, design build, curation, scholarship, critical and digital humanities, and more. The intention of the PJ Dick Project Grants Program is to provide support for a variety of projects including faculty seed funds to start a project with the aim of getting external support, to continue work on a project that may not have the option for sponsored research, and to support organizing symposia and conferences at the school.

  • The Faculty Grants Program will award a total of $400,000 over four years and is open to all full time faculty at the school. The 2024 proposals were evaluated by a committee comprised of school head Omar Khan; associate heads Joshua Bard, Mary-Lou Arscott and Kai Gutschow; Erica Cochran Hameen, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Theodossis Issaias, Special Faculty; Jenn Joy Wilson, Assistant Dean for Research Development and Sponsored Projects; and Aaron Martin, Associate Director, Institutional Partnerships, College of Fine Arts.

    The Faculty Grants Program, established in 2023 by PJ Dick Trumbull Lindy Group, supports faculty research and teaching innovations that address the school’s three pedagogical challenges: climate change, social justice and artificial intelligence. The proposals were assessed on their impact in furthering a faculty member’s research and teaching, their contribution to interrogating the school’s challenges, and their viability to garner further research support, make an impact on the discipline and expand the pedagogy of the school.