ASRG Recipients

2021 Recipients

Sustainable Hollow-body Marine Forms + Fabrication

Team: Carson James Brown and Ellis Wills-Begley

This collaborative research project combines architecture, ecosystem science, and marine fabrication techniques to develop a sustainable model for hollow-body surfboard production. We believe that further integrating these relatively disparate fields will promote fabrication processes that produce less waste, create healthier work environments, ensure more sustainable workforce development and material use. We hope to not only demonstrate further innovations in marine forms and fabrication, but also advocate for its direct applications to architectural design, sustainable material sourcing, and environmental education.

Taubman BioLab

Team: Alexander Justin Vernon and Clayton Prescott Trudeau

Taubman BioLab proposes a material-driven course of study through the integration of a deployable lab in the pursuit of bio-material exploration. At its core, it seeks to reduce waste generated by material and model studies at Taubman while also giving students the opportunity to explore new material options. Our project and exhibition materials suppose the full integration of the BioLab into the curriculum by examining a potential studio. This Propositions studio, “NapTime,” explores human form, critiques architectural pressures, and utilizes apparatus within the lab to generate sleeping furniture to be built across the school by a group of nine students.

Collaborating with Nature: Design Explorations into Biomaterials

Team:  Rosa Manzo, Zoe Faylor, and Kara Bowers

There is urgency to rethink our relationship with single-use materials. “Collaborating With Nature” is a project that explores the production and scalability of biodegradable materials through the use of algae and mycelium bio-composites. The purpose of these prototypes will be to increase the general knowledge base of bio-composite materials and their applications in design, as well as bolster our team’s future career and research interests.

Past Recipients

2020 Recipients

Towards a Paper Architecture

Team: Lindsay Barranco and Jamie Lee

Embracing the challenge of sustainable design innovation and production with recycled waste paper, our design research aims to discover novel form-finding and prototyping methodologies through a series of fabrication and construction experiments. Through multidisciplinary research and experimentation of computational programming involving lighting devices and sensory responsive technologies, we aspire to curate a sensory experience for the exhibition with a series of scaled architectural objects with specifically-designed programs and functionalities.

Portable Life Kit for Nomadic Beekeepers

Team: Dan Shen

This project intends to showcase the nomadic life of beekeepers in agricultural China, and design a hygienic portable life kit prototype which befits migrant labor living in their temporarily assembled accommodation. In this unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, people who need to migrate periodically to work are negatively affected by travel restrictions. Moreover, labor in the countryside may face a worse situation that hygienic resources in the countryside may not be as accessible as those in urban areas. In this specific quandary, beekeepers in rural China, who transit 5 to 8 times a year with their bees to chase flower seasons, represent an especially insightful example of the understudied hygienic needs in the countryside.

Music, Architecture, and the Spatialization of Sound

Team: Kaylee Tucker, Tyler Gaeth, and Leonard Bopp

As a performative act, music is temporal and linear; architecture, in contrast, is constructed of matter and can be experienced as a whole. Our research seeks ways to bridge sonic and spatial logics through an intermediary language, one that can be understood without specialty knowledge and can allow the general public to engage the disciplines of music and architecture in new ways, with a deeper capacity to describe and critique what they see and hear.

2019 Recipients


Asya Shine

Afrotutions aims to inspire a strategy for design-thinking rooted in African tradition that reimagines design aesthetics and communication. It celebrates the identity of afro-people around the world through a historical and cultural framework. The project investigates the broad range of practices and techniques used to maintain afro-hair and showcases the implications of a traumatic, yet inspiring past rooted in generations of tradition. Hair braiding interweaves a wide range of social and physical relationships: heritage, expression of individuality, community building, and means of survival. Black women and men have always communicated through the beauty of hair. Globally, hair braiding has transcended the diaspora of African people and its formation as an institution within Afro-communities is important in our understanding of the world today.

Four Fires

Daham Marapane and Michael Ferguson

Fire and architecture are intimately intertwined: from prehistoric homes built around the hearth to the massive urban reconstructions following catastrophic fires in the modern era — the history of architecture is also a history of the management of fire. Four Fires looks at recent blazes in Oakland (the Ghost Ship warehouse), London (Grenfell Tower), Rio de Janiero (National Museum of Brazil), and Paris (Notre Dame Cathedral). How did these fires start? What was consumed in their flames? What factors—technical, social, political—allowed them to burn the way they did? How will they be remembered? What agency and responsibility does architecture have in the prevention, mitigation, and cultural memory of catastrophic fire?

Sinuous Steel: Auxetic Possibilities

Mackenzie Bruce and Maggie Cochrane

This project explores the opportunities and limitations of auxetic patterning on steel sheets to create controlled doubly-curved surfaces. Auxetic patterns are created through nested geometries that create “hinge points”. When cut into planar sheet material, the surface is allowed to expand in multiple directions when stretched, rather than stretching parallel to the applied force. The resultant elasticity allows the material to be formed into unique forms beyond the typical capabilities of flat surfaces. We have interrogated the potential of this technique by combining fabrication technologies of the CNC Waterjet and 7-axis Kuka robot which allow for formal, spatial, and experiential explorations with greater material efficiency in the panel and form-making process. Our research involved an iterative process of experimentation of thin gauge steel sheets with various auxetic pattern geometries, sizing, and robotic toolheads that allow for the flexibility and control of the form. The research not only generates material prototypes, but also incorporates automation with robotic processes for controlled localized surface deformation without the need for material-intensive molds. As a result, the steel gains qualities of visual permeation, air flow and structural strength, otherwise unobtainable in a sheet material of a thin gauge. This research gives insights into the material behavior of auxetic steel, a step toward the fabrication of architectural enclosures, furniture, structural elements and other possibilities.

2018 Recipients

Büro Bureau

Ibiayi Briggs and Matthew Shulman

In the 1960s, The Quickborner Team, German office design consultants, proliferated the idea of the burolandschaft across Europe. Their detailed process transformed rigid office grids, into dynamic, flexible diagrams of company procedures and inter-departmental relationships. While the open office seems to be the plan du jour, the burolandschaft scheme of the 60s is not the perfect fit. The contemporary office is not just a collection of procedures, but through mission statements, advertising, and company policies, today’s companies also attempt to imbue their corporations with “personality.” The rapid, global expansion of WeWork has made finding office space more convenient, but at the cost of customization. Büro Bureau builds on the history of burolandschaft and the language of design consulting to reimagine contemporary office landscapes that take the into account the procedural systems of work, as well as the systems of power subsumed into their corporate rhetoric.


Lorraine Gemino, Alison Truwit, Ben vanSchaayk

This project explores how techniques of digital experimentation have influenced contemporary architecture’s relationship to precedent. These experiments challenge notions of exactitude by engaging material through a range in fidelity. By reinterpreting Hans Hollein’s series of columns for La Strada Novissima in the 1980 Venice Biennale, this project explores the range of fidelity with which digital experiments engage source material while operating at the scale of physical architectural elements.

Virtual Brandscapes

Megan Silverman and Jamie Johnson

Architectural elements have been instrumental in the development of brand identity throughout much of retail history. Companies have used spatial design to their advantage in crafting narratives within specific environments that draw audiences in. In analyzing the role that architecture has played in the history of retail marketing, we can see that the discipline has adapted to the rapidly changing modes of retail marketing. As our world is becoming increasingly dominated by online shopping and social-media sales, physical stores’ importance in consumerism become increasingly arbitrary. Technological advancements and widespread internet globalization are pushing brick-and-mortar retail spaces into obsoletion. Companies are experimenting with alternative methods of creating experiences for their customers and clients – experiences that are often set in a specific designed moment in space and time. Retail sale and branding methods are pulling away from physical spaces and toward social media and web formatting, however, we recognize the instrumental role that architecture can continue to play in the realm of marketing and sales. We look to the future of retail real-estate and we realize the vast potential of architectural design in a virtual, boundless realm. We have examined the multiple ways that current brands are experimenting with spatial design in non-traditional modes to continue branding narratives. Thus, we propose a form of virtual real estate in which accessible architecture continues to fabricate experiences in a purely digital landscape, untouched by the constraints of our rapidly developing world.

2017 Recipients

Flat​ ​Diorama

Jihye Julie Choe
Faculty advisors: Dawn Gilpin, Ana Morcillo Pallares

In the world we live in, where we perceive objects from particular viewpoints, we organize and interpret the information by framing and recollecting our visual knowledge. To recognize a shape of an object, we look at every surface so that our brain can imagine its three dimensionality. However, when we read drawings and objects that are represented on a flat plane, the freedom of perception gets suppressed by the author’s intentions. Drawing, with no depth, represents one moment in a continuous story with a particular position so that on its plane, the author frames the view and the audience perceives the given information by standing right in front of it. In architectural discourse, drawing is generally produced by creating a three dimensional digital model in a virtual world and then it is captured from a certain camera angle. This research pushes the boundaries between our imagination and the realization of an object by creating a Flat Diorama. A diorama, which is a model of a scene that depicts its comprehensive context in three dimensional space, demonstrates the spatial quality of a drawing and raises questions about what happens behind the scene. Flat Diorama illustrates three scenes representing three different vanishing points: point, line and plane. As a tool to explore a three dimensional drawing, three categories of architectural elements — door, window and column — are presented in distortion to lead one to reconsider routine interior space in perspective. The three sets provide an optical illusion from one specific view, however when the view changes, the set reveals the true geometry of the element. This reconfigured set of rooms enables audience to perceive unexpected figures by giving another glimpse into the same scene by standing beside. On the contrary to the anamorphic projection which becomes recognizable only when viewed in a specified manner, Flat Diorama aims to be legible from multiple angles and give a varied perception. The research aims to explore spatial drawings that exceed the flatness of the drawing, and break the threshold of the method of representation to raise questions about one’s limitation of ordinary perception.

Architectural Elements

Naree Byun, Sam Zou
Faculty advisor: Viola Ago

New technologies, economic restructures, and cultural evolution have transformed the architectural elements such as a door, window, stair, and column that together shapes the design of buildings. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Modernism emerged as one of the most influential architectural styles in history. In contrast to Classicism, Modernism focused on Minimalism, functionality, and the efficient use of space. The reminiscence of Modernism era is still prevalent today. Architectural elements developed during this era have become standardized and universal to the public’s eye. Although the minimalistic characteristics of elements developed from Modernism provide efficiency, the style simplifies the functionality by creating architectural stereotypes.

With rapidly changing technology, contemporary architectural practice enters the phase of digital architecture and opens endless possibilities to invent new architectural functions. In order to challenge not only the perception on the functional use of elements, but also the stereotypical looks while maintaining rationality and efficiency, we propose to invent new architectural prototypes. The new architectural prototypes include a collection of experimental and ambiguous architectural elements that reconstructs existing styles, features, and patterns. The research focuses on eliminating the stereotypical function of an element by transforming and generating new purpose for architectural elements through digital modeling technology.

The standard architectural elements are explored to invent new perceptions and functions by using digital technology. Digital technology allows modeling and programming interactive in a virtual space where Architects can test and simulate creative structures. For instance, all the structures can be built in a digital space without restraints associated with materials and gravity. Through series of distortion and mutations, new prototypes establish non-hierarchical relationships that speak new purposes and create new bodily interactions. Ultimately prototypes will no longer be influenced by ceiling, wall, or floor, but will exist as separate entities, pertaining their own character and function.


Laura Devine, Scott Deisher, Ali AlYousefi
Faculty Advisor: John McMorrough

Knots are necessary yet frustrating, structured yet perplexing. Knots can be puzzles—physical riddles to be untangled. Knots can be created from a single strand, or many. Knots can be unsolvable (Gordian) or everyday (shoelaces). Knots can also be garlic flavored.

Why Knot? At Taubman College, many distinct architectural agendas overlap, intertwine, and knot. The ideological frictions produced here—between revolutionaries and traditionalists, between architects and planners, between pastel-colored gradients and black-and-white line drawings—are passionate and productive. Our training as design students demands that we be critical of our surroundings and education, and the space of that criticism extends beyond the confines of the studio walls. Debates sparked in the Mash basement, grievances uncovered around late-night bonfires, and discoveries shared at the Duderstadt Center are all acts of criticism with embodied potential. Knot is here to capitalize on that potential by bringing these disparate conversations together into a public forum.

Specific Spaces

Cassandra Otir Rota
Faculty Advisor: Hans Tursack

The housing affordability crisis has reached a breaking point, and has tragically shifted Millennials’ ability to ground themselves and find their place. Raised to believe in the American dream, Millennials are currently left with only the choice of tiny units in congested cities. The metropolitan nomadism experienced by Millennials is undertheorized, and must be addressed more explicitly by contemporary architectural theory and practice. How can design theory and material/fabrication research attempt to solve this problem?

Donald Judd’s specific objects, Christian Norberg-Schulz’s phenomenological materialism and Kenneth Frampton’s tectonic politics all examine the social value of simplification and material specificity in design. More recently, artists like Andrea Zittel have also addressed small scale living as a means of coping with this situation, and the process of downsizing without compromise.

Given the current state of housing prices and congestion in urban areas, action based on these principles is becoming increasingly necessary. This project will act as a response to the call for Millennials to spatially consolidate, and the accompanying theoretical research will invite a conversation among our community at Taubman about the current role of the architect in urban areas where architectural design is becoming more limited in its abilities. Interior design was once considered to lie on the outskirts of the field; as congestion continues to worsen, the main role of the architect is becoming the design of the interior of already limited spaces.

Millennials want place and security, both fiscal and material, but because of job availability and lifestyle desires must choose the unpleasant conditions present in metropolitan areas. As a response to the current state of the housing market, this project reanimates the domestic interior as a contemporary critical issue in design and urban theory.

2016 Recipients

Each year, graduating architecture students honor their class by funding the Architecture Student Research Grant. The tradition, initiated by the Class of 2013, provides a unique opportunity for students to support outstanding research projects by their peers.

Projects were proposed from both graduate and undergraduate architecture students. A jury of current and former students selected the winners. The 2016 jury was headed by Tommy Kyung-Tae Nam and included Jayne Choi, Eunsung Cho, Tafhim Rahman, Ian Ting, Y-Nhi Tran, and Diana Tsai, and was advised by Associate Professor Robert Adams.  The projects were then researched over a period of months and presented to the College through brief lectures and an exhibition. The presentation was on Wednesday, November 30, 2016; the exhibition was on view December 1 – December 20, 2016 in the College Gallery.

ASRG is additionally funded from the proceeds of the Beaux Arts and Bauhaus Balls, matched by the architecture chair, and by the George G. Brigham Student Research  Fund.


Mapping Conflicts:  James Howe, Gideon Schwartzman, Yurong Wu

PROLOGUE In Peter Sloterdijk’s Terror from the Air, Sloterdijk claims that the 20th century does not truly begin until April 22nd 1915. On this day, the Germans initiated the first chemical warfare attack on enemy troops. According to Sloterdijk, this act would ultimately send the century down a path of terrorism, environmental targeting, and a need for responsive design.

STRUCTURE This research proposal aims to chronologically depict a century of conflict (1915-2016) through an analysis of the tangible and metaphysical voids created by conflicts and the subsequent architectural response. Our research will be divided into four chapters each with their own implication of conflict and the resultant void(s).

1. Chemical Conflict:

2. Aerial Conflict:

3. Political Conflict:

4. Ideological Conflict: 2001-2016

INTENT The realization of this research grant will consist of both a book which graphically maps and threads a narrative of events ranging from the First World War to the recent activities of ISIS in Europe, and an exhibition of our curated representational artwork. Through graphic representation we will investigate specific acts of aggression and their endemic effects. These will be realized through the mapping of both two- and three-dimensional representation.

Given the recent events in Brussels and Paris and the increasing presence of terrorism, our project seeks to reveal architectural agency manifested as a result of social and literal ruin.

This and That: Andrew Backhouse, Carlos Pompeo

THIS – a page, a screen, some text, or perhaps an image.

THAT-an implied psychology of interaction with the visual world.

THIS – an object, a chair, a playground, a ball.

THAT-implied choreographies of spatial interaction between body and surface.

The physical world is arrayed with object fields that carry with them embedded ergonomic logics. Material characteristics are deployed onto this field to reinforce a desired interaction; the welcoming warmth of wood, the fickle cold of metal, the supple pliability of fabric. Then, once strategically deployed, iconography bakes-in the established framework. We are left at the mercy of the subconscious…

THIS – a wooden chair, inviting to the touch, rigidly supporting our bodies.

THAT-inflated bulbous fabric, the uncertainty of support, the comfort of moldability.

The destabilization of these perceptions through the hijacking of both materiality and iconography allows us to open up new possibilities of interaction. Forms of unusual substance and structure are deployed and notation attempts to choreograph our bodies.

THIS – A soft form appears, our hands desire to touch. In the absence of that desire the image of a hand-print lures it in.

THAT- Our feet are buried under a sea of tiny columns. We are uncertain to tread. A set of footprints show us the way.

The notational role of iconography then begins to choreograph an experience through a destabilized and unfamiliar realm. Previously established logics of form and structure fade… we are simply left with THIS and THAT.

Synthesia in Architecture: Anthony Gonzalez, Po-Jen Huang, Olivia Lu-Hill

Architecture is a visually based discipline. In the process of abstracting spatial qualities into the
purely visual realm, certain sensorial affects are lost. Conventional drawing techniques are not readily capable of expressing the non-visual sensorial textures of architecture. The relationship between non-visual sensation and architecture is traditionally explored through architecture’s relationship to music. The composer Iannis Xenakis famously collaborated with Le Corbusier on the monastery at La Tourette. Steven Holl’s work with the Architectonics of Music seek to manifest this relationship in a contemporary setting. Both of these instantiations suffer from the same critical weakness: the systems for translating music into architecture are opaque and subjective. This makes them difficult to be used consistently as a design technique.

We propose to create a clear language of translation of sensorial information into architectural representation. Through this language, architects could design using scents, sounds or taste.

We will deploy the language to document Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House. Unique in its open plan, the house defines discrete spaces through sensorial experiences. The house relies on atmospheres to define space. Its location at the Henry Ford museum allows for first-hand research.

To produce a coherent and rigorous language, we
will collaborate with the school of music and the biology department at the University of Michigan in order
to research the traditional methods of classification for sound, scent and taste. We will then work with the department of computer science and linguistics
to understand how languages are developed and documented, such that we might be able to employ similar techniques within our system. Finally, we
will publish our findings and a how-to manual of translation in book and web formats, so that this system can be used in the future by architects wanting to render sensorial experiences.

2015 Recipients

Each year, graduating architecture students honor their class by funding a gift called the Architecture Student Research Grant (ASRG). The tradition, initiated by the Class of 2013, provides a unique opportunity for students to support outstanding research from their peers.

While distant sites, subjects, and audiences often monopolize the attention of student research, the 2015 ASRG Grant calls attention to the city of Ann Arbor.

For 2015, with generous support from the office of Dean Monica Ponce de Leon and the Taubman College Alumni Board, the Class of 2015 awarded three prizes of $1700 each to interdisciplinary teams of graduate and undergraduate students. The winning projects were:


The Dialogue Between Drawing Machines and Human Ambience

by Xu Zhang, Tommy Kyung Tae Nam, Hans Hyun Seong Min, Siwei Ren, and Jaekyun Brandon Kang, Carnegie Mellon University

The Dialogue between Drawing Machines + Human Ambience from Robby Kim Films on Vimeo.

This project explores the dichotomy and synthesis of the interaction between programmed movement and human interaction through automated and sensory technology. The research focuses on the development of scripted and programmed machines that generate automated motion with Processing and Arduino Technology. To destroy the idea of the perfect and precise drawing, the human interaction with the machine will allow variability and change over time. As the drawing accumulates with ink and other materials, the drawing starts to dissolve perfection and celebrates amorphousness.

The Architecture of Loneliness

by Kallie Sternburgh and Tafhim Rahman

The Architecture of Loneliness looks to examine the limits of design to single-handedly solve problems it is not well equipped to handle. It wishes architecture to be omnipotent but realizes that is not possible and laments that fact. We believe the act of making avoids cynicism and makes the project hopeful, yet tragic.

Project Team:
Carrie Allen, Jayne Choi, Daniel Fougere, Ryan Goold, Annelise Heeringa, Stefan Klecheski, Alan Lucey, Chad Schram, Steven Scharrer, Emily Trulson, Darryl Weimer

Special Thanks to:
Timotei Dudas, Noel Hernandez, Michael Picerno, Carrie Allen, and the 2015 Taubman College class for their generous contribution towards the funding for this grant


Hyper Unreal

by Ian Ting, Eujain Ting, and Joseph Biglin

If the hyperreal is the conflation of the real and its simulation, the ‘hyper-unreal’ is its foil: a disjunction between disbelief in the real and its representation, reflecting upon a fundamental mistrust of the world around us. Hyper Unreal aims to study these phenomena and expand the territory of architectural production in the virtual space of a game that pits the player against architecture as an autonomous agent. We take a critical approach towards the taxonomies of game design space by using novel mechanics, dynamic environments, disciplined spatial representation and curated player perception.


2014 Recipients

The 2014 Class Gift funded the grants to four juried projects, two graduate and two undergraduate. This grant program serves as a unique opportunity for continuing students funded by graduating students. The goal is to recognize the outstanding efforts of Taubman students and provide financial backing for such projects. We proudly announce the 2014 Architecture Student Research Grant winners:

  • “High-Tech, Low-Tech” Eric Harman, John Larmor, Paul McBride, Luis Orozco, Shan Sutherland. (Graduate Level)
  • “Feral Pastures” Simon Alexander-Adams, Tim Dudas, Noel Hernandez, Andy Lin, Eric Sheffield. (Graduate Level)
  • “Me, Myself, and My Garbage Disposal” Tyler Suomala. (Undergraduate Level)
  • “C’était un rendezvous” Evan Bruetsch, Patricia Hazel, Alyssa Kargi, Caroline Shaper. (Undergraduate Level)


ASRG: Graduate Project 1: “Feral Pastures” from Taubman College on Vimeo.

ASRG: Undergraduate Projects from Taubman College on Vimeo.


The presentation and public exhibition of these projects took place on November 19th, 2014.

Recent Architectural discourse has focused on the potential for Architects to engage in collaborative interdisciplinary research. This student research grant program incentivizes interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial spirit within the student body. Two grants, one for a continuing graduate student and another for a continuing undergraduate, will be competitively awarded this Spring, up to $1000 each.