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Sean Ahlquist

Associate Professor of Architecture

Sean Ahlquist is an associate professor of architecture at the University of Michigan’s 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 and design, and music. Ahlquist teaches courses at all levels, including ongoing involvement with the Master of Science in Material Systems program. 

Ahlquist's research formulates computational design frameworks where materiality functions as a primary agent in the organization of architectural systems and their spatial tectonics. In particular, his 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, which is part of the FabLab at Taubman College. 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, sensorial environments as interfaces for physical interaction. These intensely collaborative streams of research involve a diverse array of fields. This collaborative research initially was explored as a part of his doctoral studies in the Institute for Computational Design (ICD) at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. Ahlquist was a research associate in the ICD and exercised various aspects of his research through seminars and studios in the development of a range of prototypes from small installations to full-scale structures. 

Ahlquist previously taught at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California College of the Arts, and the University of California, Berkeley, and he led design workshops at various academic institutions in the United States, Europe, and Australia. He continues to publish widely on the topic of computational design, including Computational Design Thinking (Wiley, 2011), co-edited with Achim Menges, which collects and reflects upon seminal texts formulating systems- and material-based approach to architecture and design methodologies. Since joining Taubman College in 2012, Ahlquist has received numerous grants from U-M for his work. 

He holds a Master of Architecture from the Architectural Association’s Emergent Design and Technologies Program in London.