Polyhedral Structures Laboratory
Polyhedral Structures Laboratory (PSL) is founded in 2017 by Prof. Masoud Akbarzadeh as a research unit concentrating on advancing structural and architectural geometry and construction technologies within the Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania. PSL is also within the Advanced Research and Innovation lab together with the Autonomous Manufacturing Lab led by Prof. Robert Stuart-Smith and the Baroque Topologies Lab led by Prof. Andrew Saunders.
The name of the Polyhedral Structures Laboratory comes from Prof. Akbarzadeh’s Ph.D. research, 3D Graphic Statics using Reciprocal Polyhedral Diagrams. This research has opened a new direction in the design and construction of three dimensions efficient structural forms based on a historic proposition by Rankine and Maxwell in Philosophical Magazine in 1864.
Prof. Akbarzadeh initially established the lab to advance research in geometry-based methods of structural design and their application to architectural design and construction. Soon, the lab grew its research projects in advanced construction and future and additive manufacturing, material science, and architected cellular solids through cross-disciplinary collaborations, industrial cooperations, and governmental support.
PSL is at the intersection of architecture, structural and mechanical engineering, computer science, mathematics, and material science. It aims to bridge the gap between design and engineering by advancing structural geometry and reconciling function, form, technology, and energy.
At PSL we are constantly looking into addressing pressing matters in the field of architecture engineering and construction. We particularly look into how we can (i) minimize mass in large-scale structures and thus contribute to the reduction of embodied energy; (ii) design prefabricated systems for disassembly; (iii) develop future manufacturing methods by tuning material properties; and (iv) design and construct structures that can absorb carbon in their lifetimes.
We are continually looking for individuals with various academic and professional experiences to join us in addressing environmental problems using intelligent and efficient design and construction techniques.
The research interests of the lab include innovative construction techniques, robotic fabrication, computational design, 2D/3D Graphic statics, form-finding techniques, lightweight spatial structures, structural details, more specifically:
Polyhedral Graphic Statics
We continually work and contribute to the field of graphic statics, particularly polyhedral graphic statics. This includes research on algebraic formulations or computational tool development for design purposes.
One of the advantages of working with polyhedral systems is their inherent planar geometry. We can take advantage of this geometry for construction purposes. For instance, we work with glass, metal, and wood panels and make efficient lightweight systems. In addition, construction techniques such as origami and kirigami can also be used in the construction of spatial multi-layered systems on micro and macro scales.
Using machine learning models to simulate structural systems in nature, we are able to reproduce similar structural geometries for purposes of architectural, structural, and aerospace engineering.
Multi-material 3D Printing
One of the main objectives in reaching performance efficiency is controlling the properties of the material on micro and macro scales for efficiency purposes. We are interested in robotically controlling the deposition of materials and developing tools and technologies that enable designers to control those parameters in building components.
Numerical Methods of Form Finding
This includes methods that extend the limitations of graphic statics and provide a more comprehensive approach to the design of structures to enhance the resiliency of systems in the natural environment.
Multi-Scale Modeling of Materials
Achieving high performance in materials and structural systems on micro and macro scales is connected to understanding, and simulating the material behavior on various scales. At PSL we are always learning from other researchers and scientists in the field of physics, mathematics, and computer science to model material properties and thus control the behavior of the structure on both small and large scales.
At PSL we are also developing robotic fabrication methods to reduce construction waste and achieve a high level of efficiency, control, and sophistication in the construction of integrated building systems.
Currently, we do not have any open positions, but we are constantly looking for talents and individuals who find our lab an ideal place to contribute to the knowledge in the field of innovative building construction.
For Ph.D. applicants please visit the Weitzman School website for more information. For Weitzman graduate students who are interested in research assistant positions, please directly contact our lab personnel via email.