Taubman College

Faculty Directory

Teaching Areas:

  • Material Computation and Design

Sean Ahlquist is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He is a part of the Cluster in Computational Media and Interactive Systems which connects Architecture with the fields of Material Science, Computer Science, Art & Design and Music. Ahlquist teaches courses at all levels, including on-going involvement with the Master of Science in Material Systems program. Research and course topics are centered on material computation, developing articulated material structures and modes of design which enable the study of their material and spatial behaviors.

Ahlquist’s research formulates computational design frameworks where materiality functions as an a priori agent in the organization of architectural systems and their spatial tectonics. In particular, the research explores and develops new technologies in highly articulated textile and composite materials. Research is developed through the use of a large-scale industrial CNC knitting machine. a part of the FabLab at Taubman College. This highly advanced manufacturing technology enables great depth of research into the fiber composition of yarns, intermingling of knit structures, and shaping of seamless manifold forms. Ahlquist’s research agendas include the design and fabrication of pre-stressed lightweight structures, innovations in textile-reinforced composite materials for aerospace and automotive design, and development of tactile and extensible interfaces for physical computing. These intensely collaborative streams of research involve professors, students, and researchers from Aerospace Engineering, Structural Engineering, Computer Science, Music, Art & Design, Information and Human Interaction, and Biology/Biomimetics.

This line of collaborative research was initially explored as a part of doctoral studies at the University of Stuttgart in the Institute for Computational Design (ICD). Ahlquist worked as a research associate at the ICD, exercising various aspects of his research through seminars and studios in the development of a range of prototypes from small installations to full-scale structures. He founded the firm Proces2 in San Francisco, in 2002, focusing on the exploration of a broad range of computational means, including algorithmic, scripted, parametric and generative methods, and their relationship to experimentation with architectural and material form. Ahlquist holds a Master of Architecture degree from the Architectural Association in London, Emergent Design and Technologies Program. He has previously taught at the Academy of Art University, California College of the Arts and University of California – Berkeley, as well as led design workshops at various academic institutions in the US, Europe and Australia. Ahlquist continues to publish widely on the topic of computational design, including a reader entitled Computational Design Thinking, co-edited with Achim Menges, which collects and reflects upon seminal texts formulating a systems and material based approach to architecture and design methodologies.

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