Research Centers

Center for Public Interest Design

The Center for Public Interest Design is a research and action center at Portland State University's School of Architecture that aims to investigate, promote, and engage in inclusive design practices that address the needs of underserved communities worldwide through work that is socially conscious, environmentally sustainable, and economically accessible to all. Under the direction of Professor of Architecture Sergio Palleroni and Research Associate Todd Ferry, the CPID provides students with opportunities to learn, challenge, and implement the principles of public interest design.  


Building Science Lab to Advance Teaching (BUILT)

BUILT was created to address the pressing need for future architecture and engineering professionals to have a robust education in the STEM discipline of building science. Understanding how buildings use energy and other resources is critical to the design and engineering of green buildings. Toward this end, BUILT (Building Science Lab to Advance Teaching) provides undergraduate students in Architecture and Engineering with the equipment and support to study and advance building science through hands-on research. The lab encourages more rapid integration of building science strategies, materials, and systems by conducting student-led simulations or post-occupancy analysis of existing buildings and applying this research to projects currently under design through collaboration with professional practitioners. Students taking architecture classes in environmental design, building technology and even architectural history have an opportunity to use the equipment in the lab for assigned research projects related to monitoring how buildings work, including lighting levels, thermal comfort, and energy use.

Data logging devices are available for students to check out and collect measurements on existing buildings; for example, the HDR camera on one of the lab’s 20 iPod Touch devices can be used to measure glare due to direct sunlight, the microphone can be used to measure sound levels, and a plug-in infrared camera can track temperature variations in a building envelope. State-of-the-art computers, outfitted with building simulation software enable students to compare designs with respect to daylighting, wind, solar radiation, and energy use. An electronics station where students can develop their own post-occupancy sensors using plug and play kits are among the offerings.  

Research-based Design Initiative

In late 2011, Assistant Professor Corey Griffin and Professor Sergio Palleroni were awarded the largest NCARB Grant for the Integration of Practice and Education in the Academy to date in order to generate translational building science research in collaboration with firms in Portland, Oregon. This grant, along with the resources of the Green Building Research Laboratory (GBRL), transformed traditional lecture-based building science and technology courses into a series of on-going, graduate level seminars that revolve around two primary activities: (1) students conduct building science research of relevance to a project currently under design in a firm and (2) students are embedded in project teams where they attend all interdisciplinary meetings for the course of a term to witness and document interdisciplinary collaboration.  In this unique way, students become contributing members of a design team and building science experts on issues relevant to current practice. For the architecture firms involved, working with universities allows practicing architects the ability to utilize a deeper level of research expertise in the design process and access resources not typically available in practice. One of the most exciting outcomes of this collaboration have been the semi-annual research symposiums where students present their work to representatives from all of the participating firms, creating a dialog around pressing building science issues with students, faculty and practitioners. Learn more about the Research-based Design Initiative at the initiative's website, and by reading "A Unique Model: Research Based Design Initiative" (May 20, 2015), a blog post by architect Scott Mooney of SRG Partnership. 

Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza

Hosted by the School of Architecture at Portland State University, the Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza is an innovative outdoor laboratory that also serves as a delightful new public garden. The Shattuck Hall Ecological Learning Plaza is a facility dedicated to research in sustainable building practices while engaging the public and encouraging community interaction. The Plaza's current project features several green wall systems, green roof systems, demonstration landscapes and original furniture design. This project consists of vertical gardens, experimental sloped green roof, solar panels and permeable paving. These ecological building components will be a part of on-going research that will include analyzing improved urban ecology,  on-site energy generation and storm water mitigation. The work in the plaza has been created by PSU students in Architecture, Engineering and the Green Building Research Lab, in collaboration with design and engineering professionals, manufacturers and public agencies.  Over time, the Plaza will become a space for further research and experimentation with other building materials and methods.