Designing Architectural Research: The Possibilities For A Critical Computation


Designing Architectural Research: The Possibilities For A Critical Computation

March 3, 2021
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

“Designing Architectural Research” is a virtual exhibition celebrating the launch of two new Master Programs at New York Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Design. The exhibition was conceived by Dean Maria Perbellini after a Grant by the IDC Foundation, and co-curated by Professors Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa and Tom Verebes, Ph.D.. The new programs are a Master of Science in Architecture, Computational Technologies, and a Master of Science in Architecture, Health and Design.

The symposium on March 3 will feature four lectures (see below) and the virtual exhibition features 24 exhibitors (see here).


Constantinos Daskalakis

Professor of EECS at MIT, and member of Computer Science and AI Laboratory

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Constantinos Daskalakis is a Professor of Computer Science at MIT, working on Computation Theory and its interface with Game Theory, Economics, Probability Theory, Machine Learning and Statistics. His work has resolved long-standing problems about the computational complexity of Nash equilibrium, and multi-item auctions, and now focuses on high-dimensional statistics and learning from biased, dependent, and strategic data.

In 2018 he was honored with the prestigious Nevanlinna Prize by the International Mathematical Union. This prize is presented along with the Fields medal for outstanding contributions to mathematical aspects of information sciences. He has been honored with several other prestigious awards including the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award, the Kalai Prize from the Game Theory Society, the Sloan fellowship in Computer Science, the SIAM outstanding paper prize, the Simons investigator award, the ACM Grace Murray Hopper award, and the Bodossaki foundation distinguished young scientists award.

Lecture: How does machine learning fail, and what to do about it?

As the applications of machine learning are exploding, it is also becoming increasingly clear that its use poses significant threats. Learning systems lack the type of robustness that one expects of systems that make critical decisions, failing to extrapolate well from their training to new environments, being extremely data and computation hungry, and amplifying biases in their training data. In this lecture, Professor Daskalakis will look at some of the root causes making machine learning models fail, tinkering with the main assumptions of the machine learning pipeline, and revealing intimate connections to mathematics and the social sciences as potential avenues to overcome these challenges.

Achim Menges

Professor ICD, Institute for Computational Design and Construction, Cluster of Excellence IntCDC, University of Stuttgart

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Achim Menges is a registered architect in Frankfurt and professor at the University of Stuttgart, where he is the founding director of the Institute for Computational Design and Construction and the director of the Cluster of Excellence Integrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture. In addition, he has been Visiting Professor in Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and held multiple other visiting professorships in Europe and the United States. He graduated with honours from the Architectural Association in London.

The focus of Achim Menges’ practice and research is the integrative development of computational design methods, robotic manufacturing and construction processes, as well as advanced material and building systems. His work has received many international awards, has been published and exhibited worldwide, and form parts of several renowned museum collections, among others, the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London

Lecture: Computational Material Culture in Architecture

Material culture is described as the physical evidence and expression of a culture in its artifacts and architecture. In this lecture, Achim Menges will discuss how digital technologies serve as catalysts to advance our conception of materiality and the technologies of materialization. Through the presentation of selected research projects by his institute he will argue that innovation across multiple disciplines suggests that design computation is no longer limited to the binary realm of the digital, but instead becomes an intense interface to the more complex domain of the physical. Thus a new material culture in architecture is beginning to arise, forging new alliances between the fields of design, engineering and natural sciences. This represents a significant perceptual shift in which the materiality of architecture is no longer seen to be a fixed property and passive receptor of form, but is transformed into an active generator of design and an adaptive agent of architectural performance.

Rachel Armstrong

Professor of Experimental Architecture, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University

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Rachel Armstrong is tenured Professor of Experimental Architecture at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University, Visiting Professor at KU Leuven, a Senior TED Fellow and a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Rising Waters II confab Fellow. She holds a First Class Honours degree with 2 academic prizes from the University of Cambridge (Girton College), a medical degree from the University of Oxford (The Queen’s College), was admitted as a Member to the Royal College of New Zealand General Practitioners 2005-2015 and awarded a PhD (2014) from the University of London (Bartlett School of Architecture). She is author of The Art of Experiment: Post-pandemic Knowledge Practices for 21st Century Architecture and Design with Rolf Hughes (2020), Experimental Architecture: Prototyping the unknown through design-led research (2019), Liquid Life: On non-linear materiality(2019), Soft Living Architecture: An alternative view of bio informed design practice (2018) and other titles.

Lecture: Microbial Architecture and Built Immunity in the Urban Environment

Are we really as safe as houses within our indoor spaces, or do the prevalent, stifling conditions imposed by the pandemic lockdown open the doors to a new relationship with a different kind of inside and outside? This talk offers intense portraits of an emerging space and set of design principles called the ecological home—an agentised habitat occupied by many species of microbes that help us navigate our increasingly lively world. While modernity’s Reign of Hygiene suggests these agents are all pathogens and should be eliminated, this talk proposes quite the opposite. Introducing the Microbiome of the Built Environment and how it influences our daily activities of living, the idea of a more-than-human immunity is discussed, identifying lessons for the kind of world we want to build after the pandemic and dreams forward into alternative, biodiverse and inclusive ways of inhabiting spaces, which are relevant to our urban futures.

Francis Bitonti

CEO of Lexset

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Francis is an early pioneer of Generative Design, the use of computational techniques to find new solutions to design and engineering problems. He is the author of “3D Printing Design: Additive Manufacturing and the Materials Revolution. His work has been widely published and collected by prestigious institutions such as the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt, Vitra, and the Pompidou Centre. Francis received his BFA in Computer Graphics from Long Island University and his M.Arch from Pratt Institute.


For most of his career Francis Bitonti has used computation to explore a problem space to find novel design and engineering solutions for complex problems. These techniques have yielded some incredibly interesting and useful results. Bitonti has recently been adapting these techniques and using them to train other computational systems to perform complex tasks. He will discuss his work at Lexset and how these generative design techniques are being used to enumerate possible worlds for training artificial intelligence algorithms and the opportunities and challenges of using these techniques.


NOTE: You must register to receive the pertinent Zoom information. If you already registered for this event, you do not need to register again.

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View the Spring 2021 Lectures & Events Series poster.