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. His particular research thread is centered on the topic of material computation, in developing means by which complex material behaviors can be instrumentalized to formulate integrated and variable spatial capacities. He continues this research also as a current doctoral candidate at the University of Stuttgart in the Institute for Computational Design (ICD), with expected completion of the doctorate (Dr.Ing.) in 2013. Ahlquist also served 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 has published 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.

Ahlquist's research agenda is directed at formulating computational design frameworks which place materiality as an a priori agent in the organization of architectural systems and their spatial tectonics. In particular, the research explores technologies in the design and fabrication of variegated textile and fibrous material assemblages. As lightweight self-structured material systems, the methodology and techniques, through experimentation both virtual and real, investigates the maximizing of integrated spatial capacities through the articulation of responsive structured envelopes of minimal material use. In order to do so, the research explores the very fundamental nature of materials in their fibrous composition being able to form rigid assemblies and simultaneously modulate environmental conditions. As well as a study of envelopes, the research addresses spatial organization as an instigator for material performance. This involves the cross-disciplinary study of computer science and biology as a resource for methodologies in process, along with material science and biomimetic/structural engineering for logics in composites structures.

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