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Keck Foundation gives $300,000 to PSU to create architecture research lab
Author: Suzanne Pardington, University Communications
Posted: January 8, 2015

Architecture students at Portland State University will conduct research on the latest green building techniques in a new design lab starting next fall, thanks to a $300,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation.

The grant will help expand the School of Architecture’s Research-based Design Initiative by providing more research opportunities for undergraduate students, including computer simulation of designs and analysis of building performance.

“Our goal is to reduce the environmental impact of the built environment,” said Assistant Professor Corey Griffin, who will lead the lab. “This new lab will help teach students about research techniques and how buildings use energy with hands-on projects, even in large introductory lecture courses.” 

Griffin and Professor Sergio Palleroni launched the Research-based Design Initiative in 2011 to transform graduate-level building science classes with practice-based research projects. Grants from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and the Oregon Community Foundation enabled graduate students to work with five local architecture firms on real-world building projects. For instance, architecture students have worked with BOORA Architects to analyze day-lighting strategies in a new school and used thermal imaging cameras to measure heat loss in PSU’s School of Business Administration for SRG Partnership.

The Keck grant will help create a new undergraduate research lab with computers, sensors, design-simulation software and fabrication tools for rapid prototypes. It will also create three fellowships per year for three years for faculty members to develop lessons in the lab for their classes. 

Clive Knights, director of the School of Architecture, said: "In a school that has built its educational goals around the human experience of architecture, the Keck award affords our students the opportunity to learn through direct, hands-on empirical investigation of buildings and to test prototypes for sustainable solutions that would otherwise remain purely conceptual."

Photo: Chris Kline (Master of Architecture, 2014) and mechanical engineering students prepare a model for a wind tunnel test.