Before Building Laboratory
University of Virginia beforebuilding@virginia.edu






The Before Building Laboratory pioneers new material assemblies, with the aim of creating building material systems that sequester carbon and reduce construction’s contribution to the environmental crisis. Current projects focus on rapidly renewable biomaterials, including wood, bamboo, grass, various invasive plant species, and hemp.

We engage emerging technologies to work with natural materials and processes in new ways, reframing the relationship between biology, technology, and authorship. We seek to advance the accessibility of computation and robotic construction, leveraging democratized and consumer-grade technologies as well as inventing and building low-cost ground-up construction systems.





RECORDINGS
🎙 League Prize 2023 Night 3: Katie MacDonald & Kyle Schumann, Joseph Altshuler & Zack Morrison, June 29, 2023, 6:30 pm EST
🎙 Natural Building Materials Panel @ Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture, October 10, 2022
🎙 “Lush: From Field to Fabrication”@ the University of Tennessee Knoxville, September 20, 2021
🎙 “This is America: Design Practices Memorializing Difficult Histories”, @ Brown University, April 13, 2021
🎙 “Growing, Buliding” @ the University of Virginia, February 23, 2021
🎙 “Growing Buildings” @ Public Bldg, August 27, 2020
🎙 “After Specification” @ the University of Virginia, July 31, 2020
🎙 “How After Architecture Balances Practice with Materials Research” @ Architect Magazine Podcast
🎙 “After Specification” @ Pecha Kucha Knoxville, November 16, 2019



KATIE MACDONALD

DIRECTOR
AIA NCARB
KMACDONALD@VIRGINIA.EDU
 

Katie MacDonald is Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia, Cofounder of After Architecture, and a  licensed architect in Virginia.  

MacDonald is Director of the Before Building Laboratory at UVA, where she leads material research and development. MacDonald pioneers new biomaterial assemblies, with the aim of creating building material systems that sequester carbon and reduce construction’s contribution to the environmental crisis. Current projects focus on rapidly renewable biomaterials, including wood, bamboo, grass, various invasive plant species, and hemp. 

In 2022, she co-curated the Biomaterial Building Exposition.


EDUCATION
︎ M.Arch. Harvard University
︎ B.Arch. Cornell University

PRIOR EXPERIENCE
︎ Morphosis Architects
︎ Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects
︎ Clive Wilkinson Architects
︎ Stayner Architects
︎ MALL

AWARDS
The Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, 2023
Cultured Magazine Young Architects List, 2021
Architect Magazine Next Progressives, 2019
☆ Emerging Designer, Virginia by Design Awards, 2018
Curbed Young Guns, 2014
Educator of the Year, Metropolis Magazine Planet Positive Awards, 2023
☆ University of Virginia Outstanding Researcher Award, Research Achievement Awards, 2022
☆ Housing Design Education Award, American Institute of Architects and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, 2020

FELLOWSHIPS
Exhibit Columbus University Design Research Fellowship, 2022-23
☆ Tennessee Architecture Fellowship, 2019-20
☆ Robert James Eidlitz Fellowship, 2017
☆ Paul M. Heffernan Travel Award, 2015


KYLE SCHUMANN

DIRECTOR
SCHUMANN@VIRGINIA.EDU



Kyle Schumann is Cofounder of After Architecture and Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia.

Schumann is Director of the Before Building Laboratory at UVA , where he leads robotic fabrication research and development. Schumann seeks to advance the accessibility of digital fabrication, leveraging democratized technologies as well as inventing and building low-cost ground-up fabrication and imaging systems. His work spans analog processes in woodworking, metalworking, casting, ceramics, and textile production, to advanced and novel digital fabrication technologies, robotics, and machine visioning systems.

In 2022, he co-curated the Biomaterial Building Exposition.


EDUCATION
︎ M.Arch. Princeton University
︎ B.Arch. Cornell University

PRIOR EXPERIENCE
︎ Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects
︎ Anmahian Winton Architects

AWARDS
The Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, 2023
Cultured Magazine Young Architects List, 2021
Architect Magazine Next Progressives, 2019
Curbed Young Guns, 2014
Design Build Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, 2023
☆ University of Virginia Outstanding Researcher Award, Research Achievement Awards, 2022
☆ William S. Downing Prize for Architectural Design, 2012

FELLOWSHIPS
Exhibit Columbus University Design Research Fellowship, 2022-23
☆ Tennessee Architecture Fellowship, 2019-20
☆ Robert A.M. Stern Architects Travel Fellowship, 2017
☆ Robert James Eidlitz Fellowship, 2017
☆ Princeton University Fellowship, 2016-8


RESEARCHERS

︎ Shiza Chaudhary


︎ Ammon Embleton


︎ Margaret Saunders


︎ Paul Bourdin
︎ Kristina Dickey
︎ Leila Ehtesham
︎ Brandon Meinders


PAST RESEARCHERS

2023
︎ Ross Brown
︎ Shiza Chaudhary
︎ Charlotte Devine
︎ Ammon Embleton
︎ Cecily Farrell
︎ Isaac Goodin
︎ Cara Hu
︎ Fah Keerasuntonpong
︎ Jaeger Lajewski
︎ Dillon Mcdowell
︎ Brandon Meinders
︎ Chris Osterlund
︎ Abbey Partika
︎ Emily Ploppert
︎ Charlotte Pitts
︎ Margaret Saimders
︎ Valerie Speirs
︎ Jolie Talha
︎ Julia West
︎ Natalie Zuppas

2022
︎ Collette Block
︎ Ross Brown
︎ Chris Chao
︎ Brandon Dennis
︎ Cecily Farrell
︎ Sophie Depret-Guillaume
︎ Leila Ehtesham
︎ Alex Hall
︎ Abby Hassell
︎ Caleb Hassell
︎ Mia Hsu
︎ Kristopher Kollias
︎ Jaeger Lajewski
︎ Rachel Lee
︎ Chujun Dina Luo
︎ Meredith Magness
︎ Reagan McCullough
︎ Dillon Mcdowell
︎ Liv Orlando
︎ Chris Osterlund
︎ Russell Petro
︎ Charlotte Pitts
︎ Emily Ploppert
︎ Timothy Victorio
︎ Andrew Spears
︎ Jonathan (Yianni) Spears
︎ Valerie Speirs
︎ Cecilia Yiyue Su
︎ Jolie Talha
︎ Haoran Zhang
︎ Natalie Zuppas

2021
︎ Collette Block
︎ Brandon Dennis
︎ Youfang Duan
︎ Leila Ehtesham
︎ Ephrata Johannes
︎ Kristopher Kollias
︎ Audrey Lewis
︎ Chujun Dina Luo
︎ Meredith Magness
︎ Jacob McLaughlin
︎ Lizzie Needham
︎ Kate Nguyen
︎ Chris Osterlund
︎ Andrew Spears
︎ Elizabeth Tatham
︎ Timothy Victorio

2020
︎ Sarina Hermanto
︎ Mason Millner
︎ Lisa Rowland
︎ Kevin Saslawsky

2019
︎ Connor Brown
︎ Tim Cox
︎ Ellie Cuthrell
︎ Brian Gore
︎ Aria Hill
︎ Mason Millner
︎ Alex Munro
︎ Jack Wasielewski

2018
︎ Brian Gore
︎ Brianna Morales

2017
︎ Brianna Morales

&

BEFORE
Building
(Laboratory)


























SYLVAN SCRAPPLE


Sylvan Scrapple draws parallels between the use of waste in cooking and construction, creating a wooded oasis for dining and exchange.

Non-linear wood unfit for traditional lumber is used to construct curving panels. Boards cut on a purpose-built robotic sawmill are stacked into snaking walls, making use of natural curvature to create thin structural surfaces. Straight boards are salvaged from a demolished building, refinished, and assembled into straight panels linked the curved segments. The curved and straight panels are all post-tensioned with threaded rod, avoiding the need for adhesives during assembly and allowing for easy decommissioning into boards.

Bricks salvaged from the burned Irwin Block and renovated First Christian Church tower are collected in custom welded gabion cages. Gabions double as pieces of urban furniture, such as wall, dining table, coffee table, and stairs.

Wood, bricks, and scraps form a 15’ long dining table that creates a center for the installation. Bound with bioresin, this table closely resembles congealed scrapple. A game of “I spy” uncovers panels salvaged from Eliel Saarinen’s church tower and branches from Mill Race Park.

FORMAT
Public Space

LOCATION
Exhibit Columbus 2023:
Public by Design
Columbus, IN

DATE EXHIBITIED
August - November 2023

AWARDS
The Architect’s Newspaper Best in Digital Fabrication Honorable Mention, 2023

GRANTS
︎ Exhibit Columbus University Design Research Fellowship
︎ Jefferson Trust Annual Cycle Grant
︎ UVA School of Architecture Summer Research Grant
︎ UVA Vice Provost for the Arts Grant

PRESS
Oculus Magazine (Fall 2023)
The Architectural League of New York (October 2023)
Dwell Magazine (October 2023)
☞  Architectural Record (September 2023)
The Architect’s Newspaper (September 2023)
☞   Print Magazine (September 2023)
☞  Gooood (September 2023)
☞  World Architects (September 2023)
☞  Indiana Public Media (September 2023)
The Republic (September 2023)
Dezeen (August 2023)
☞  The Republic (July 2023)
The Architect’s Newspaper (March 2023)
The Architect’s Newspaper (February 2023)
Archinect
☞ The Republic (March 2023)
☞  The Republic (February 2023)

VIDEO
☞   Sylvan Scrapple Opening Day Video
☞    Exhibit Columbus Public by Design

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Katie MacDonald

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
︎ Shiza Chaudhary
︎ Ammon Embleton
︎ Isaac Goodin
︎ Emily Ploppert
︎ Margaret Saunders

LOG DONATION
︎ UVA Sawmilling

PHOTOGRAPHY
︎ Leonid Furmansky
︎ Hadley Fruits for Landmark Columbus Foundation
︎ After Architecture











TABLE SCRAPS


Table Scraps is a collection of recipes that make use of food waste exhibited with the Sylvan Scrapple installation at Exhibit Columbus 2023: Public by Design.

The collection draws parallels between the use of waste in cooking and construction, combining recipes with visual scraps and place settings from dining tables, counters, restaurants, and social halls, in Columbus and beyond. Recipes were gathered through a public call.

Each recipe is photographed on the place setting of its authors and displayed as a lifesize vinyl placemat.
FORMAT
Exhibition

LOCATION
Exhibit Columbus
Columbus, IN

DATE EXHIBITIED
August - November 2023

AWARDS
Society of American Registered Architects National Design Merit Award, 2023
Architect Magazine R+D Award, 2022
The Architect’s Newspaper Best in Digital Fabrication Award, 2022

PRESS
☞  The Republic (July 2023)

CURATORS
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Katie MacDonald

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
︎ Shiza Chaudhary
︎ Ammon Embleton
︎ Isaac Goodin
︎ Emily Ploppert
︎ Margaret Saunders

EXHIBITORS
︎ Shiza Chaudhary
︎ John Comazzi
︎ Anna Denoyer
︎ Ammon Embleton
︎ Esteban Garcia Bravo
︎ Isaac Goodin
︎ Mikhail Grinwald
︎ Deniz Gürata Hayırlı
︎ Karen MacDonald
︎ Kristin MacDonald
︎ Emily Ploppert
︎ Stephanie Sang Delgado
︎ Margaret Saunders
︎ Carole Schumann















TANGENTIAL TIMBER


Tangential Timber advances circular construction, customization, and democratization of technology by (1) developing a structural application for carbon-sequestering, non-linear wood, (2) piloting methods for adapting designs to non-standard material stock, and (3) lowering the cost and data intensity of digital imaging techniques. Non-linear wood is an underutilized material, available globally but limited in use due to the constraints of sawmilling. Tangential Timber defines a methodology in which logs that are curved, irregular in cross section, or otherwise unfit for lumber, are cut into cross sections, cookies. A low-tech, parametric digital imaging workflow was developed in which cookies are photographed and traced in 2D, then translated into 3D models. The digital cookies are sorted across a designed form, then inscribed with a set of joints. Fabrication requires minimal part reduction with a 5-axis waterjet. CNC routing adds surface continuity across a patchwork of irregular structural blocks. This timber masonry system is designed for disassembly: structural blocks are joined with minimal hardware, allowing for assembly, disassembly, and reuse.
FORMAT
Demonstration Pavilion

DATE ACTIVE
2021 - 2022

AWARDS
Society of American Registered Architects National Design Merit Award, 2023
Architect Magazine R+D Award, 2022
The Architect’s Newspaper Best in Digital Fabrication Award, 2022
Fast Company World Changing Ideas Awards, Honorable Mention in Experimental Category, 2023
AIA Central Virginia Bi-Annual Design Awards, Honor Award in Architecture, 2022
AIA Virginia Design Awards, Honorable Mention in Small Projects, 2023

PAPER
🕮 “Tangential Timber: Non-linear Wood Masonry Construction Designed for Disassembly,” 2022 

PRESS
Inform Magazine
The Architect’s Newspaper

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Katie MacDonald

PROJECT MANAGER
︎ Abby Hassell

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS

(IMAGING)
︎ Cecily Farrell
︎ Alex Hall
︎ Caleb Hassell
︎ Dillon Mcdowell

(VAULT)
︎ Sonja Bergquist
︎ Sophie Depret-Guillaume
︎ Cecily Farrell
︎ Abbey Partika
︎ Russell Petro
︎ Emily Ploppert
︎ Jonathan (Yianni) Spears
︎ Jolie Talha
︎ Annabelle Woodcock

GRANTS
︎ UVA Jefferson Trust Flash Funding
︎ UVA Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation Faculty Global Research with Undergraduates Grant

RESEARCH ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:
ARCH 3021 STUDENTS
︎ Abby Hassell
︎ Audrey Lewis
︎ Jacob McLaughlin
︎ Rohan Singh
︎ Abbie Weissman













SURFACING ROUNDWOOD



Wood construction constitutes over 90% of new homes in the United States, while construction and building operations account for nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions. Opportunities to optimize this industry remain: 48% of harvested timber is unusable in construction in its whole state due to irregularities, instead being broken down for use as fuel (releasing captured carbon into the atmosphere) or in engineered wood products such as OSB or MDF (which introduces formaldehyde adhesives and limits the ability to compost at end of life).

Roundwood or ‘whole’ timber signifies various cultural associations and baggage, from Marc-Antoine Laugier’s Primitive Hut to log cabins and theme park log rides. When a log is milled into rectilinear lumber and found in organized pallets at the big box home improvement store, it becomes a standardized product steps removed from its biological origin.

This projects explores possibilities for roundwood timber through 1) low-data 3D scanning methods and 2) robotic sawing of roundwood logs. This project pilots a method of responding to material through computational means – 3D scanning, computational analysis, and robotic fabrication. In particular, the project defines an application for a global supply of unused material – non-linear timber specimens.

Surfacing techniques produce both unique aesthetic readings and opportunities for joinery and connection, culminating in the construction of a columnar assembly.
FORMAT
Prototype

DATES ACTIVE
2023

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Danelle Briscoe

PROJECT ASSISTANTS
︎ Aaron Beebe
︎ Erick Vernon-Galindo

GRANTS
︎ University of Texas at Austin Robotics Workshop

















HOMEGROWN


Homegrown is a temporary pavilion installed in the Knoxville Museum of Art’s South Garden, between the stepping pink Tennessee marble facade designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes and the historic brick elevation of the neighboring factory building. The installation’s four walls form an exterior room within the larger walled garden. A series of volumes are subtracted from the walls to create openings that serve as doorways and windows.

The installation proposes an alternative material ethic by making use of small-scale landscaping waste, including invasive species such as kudzu, bamboo, and various tree species, as well as forestry waste. The plant fibers are formed into lightweight wall-scale panels using a liquid bio-based binder. This material was additively formed into panels using a custom process, pillow forming.

In a nod to the materials of traditional American framing, the panels are faced in pine needles and rest on a base of dimensional lumber. The top edge steps up and down, suggesting doorways, windows, ledges, seats - a rewilding of the domestic. The exterior is flat and angular, reflecting more conventional architectural production, while the interior is undulating, suggesting possibilities for further customization and the creation of integrated, sculpted furniture.

The resulting architecture is not flat and hard, but fuzzy, fluffy, furry, shaggy. It is primitive and high-tech. It is not permanent, but temporal, requiring caretaking and maintenance, like a landscape or an occupant. The work begs a questioning of how our buildings are made, the materials with which they are made, and the new potentials that might be unveiled if these established systems and societal expectations can be reimagined.
FORMAT
Demonstration Pavilion

LOCATION
Knoville Museum of Art,
Knoxville, TN

DATES EXHIBITED
Oct - Nov 2020

AWARDS
The Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design Award in Research, 2021
Society of American Registered Architects National Design Merit Award, 2022
Fast Company Innovation by Design Awards, Honorable Mention in Materials Category, 2021
Dezeen Awards, Longlisted in Installation Design,  2021

PAPER
🕮 “Pillow Forming: Digital Fabrication of Complex Surfaces through Actuated Modular Pneumatics”, 2021

PRESS
The New York Times
Fast Company
Architect Magazine
The Architect’s Newspaper
Inhabitat
Southerly
Inform Magazine
Reasons to Be Cheerful

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
︎ Kevin Saslawsky

GRANTS
︎ University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design, Tennessee Architecture Fellowship
︎ University of Tennessee Office of Undergraduate Research Spring Semester Research Assistant Award











MASS GRASS


Mass Grass seeks to advance applications for the common, abundant, and rapidly-renewable poaceae (grass) family as material which grows globally and with which nearly the entire plant can be utilized, as compared to the many offcuts of timber. Historically, poaceae has been used in thatch roofing and bundled, vernacular structures, while modern applications are limited to lightweight composites, acoustic panels, and insulation. With the exception of bamboo, the potential of grasses has been overlooked due to perceived shortcomings and lack of test methods needed to characterize small-diameter fibers which are highly anisotropic, fragile, and difficult to grip.

This research aims to develop a comprehensive framework for characterization of poaceae and poaceae-based composites and pilot structural applications of this material. The project brings together a multidisciplinary team of four scholars/disciplines to leverage and synthesize well-established elements of composite mechanics, structural engineering, environmental science, and architectural design.

FORMAT
Demonstration Pavilion

DATES ACTIVE
2021 - 2023

AWARDS
Society of American Registered Architects National Design Award Material Sciences Category Winner, 2023
Society of American Registered Architects National Design Honor Award, 2023

ARCHITECTURE:

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR
︎ Katie MacDonald (PI)
︎ Kyle Schumann

PROJECT MANAGER
︎ Brandon Dennis

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
︎ Ephrata Johannes
︎ Kristopher Kollias
︎ Rachel Lee
︎ Reagan McCullough
︎ Brandon Meinders
︎ Liv Orlando
︎ Elizabeth Tatham
︎ Julia West

ENGINEERING:

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
︎ Marek-Jerzy Pindera
︎ Jose Gomez

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
︎ Heze Chen

FIELD SURVEY, SPECIES ANALYSIS, & SELECTION:

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR
︎ Deborah Lawrence

GRANTS
︎ UVA 3 Cavaliers




















BIOMATERIAL BUILDING EXPOSITION


An exposition at the University of Virginia demonstrating new approaches to biomaterial construction.

The construction industry has been slow to adapt as local climates shift, overextended supply chains threaten the viability of traditional building materials, landfills pile up, and material life cycles come into question. This is a major concern for communities worldwide over both the short and long terms as they are thrust into the turmoil of increasingly frequent and dramatic climate events that stress aging infrastructure.

The Biomaterial Building Exposition is a platform focused on architectural-scale biomaterial research. The Exposition places multiple novel approaches in dialogue, fostering a larger discussion on how rapidly-renewable, carbon-sequestering biomaterials can be utilized in contemporary construction. The Exposition seeks to establish a multi-institutional scholarly discourse and raise the public visibility of novel approaches to biomaterial construction. Architect-scholar teams from University of Arkansas, Cornell University, Kansas State University, Penn State University, and Rice University convergeD in Charlottesville, Virginia to exhibit full-scale installations developed at the scholars’ home institutions and with students at the University of Virginia.

The Exposition opened to the public on Grounds at the University of Virginia. Since its inception, UVA’s Academical Village has been an architectural testing ground. The Exposition expands this tradition, forging a path toward a radical material future that foregrounds environmental and human health, set against the backdrop of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A gallery exhibition in Campbell Hall’s Elmaleh Gallery brought together process work from the development of the installations, as well as material samples

and images of ongoing biomaterial work being advanced across disciplines at the University of Virginia.
FORMAT
Exhibition & Symposium

LOCATION
University of Virginia,
Charlottesville, Virginia

WEBSITE
www.biomaterialbuilding.com/

EXPOSTION
5 Pavilions exhibited across UVA Grounds,
Mar - May 2022

GALLERY EXHIBTION
Elmaleh Gallery, Campbell Hall,
Mar 2022

SYMPOSIUM
The Rotunda and Campbell Hall,
March 14, 2022

PRESS
Journal of Architectural Education
The Architect’s Newspaper
Inform Magazine
Archinect
C-Ville Weekly
UVA Today
The Cavalier Daily
University of Arkansas News

CURATORS & CONVENERS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann

PAVILIONS
1. Liz Gálvez, Office e.g.
2. Jonathan Dessi-Olive, Myco Matters
3. Jessica ColangelO & Charles Sharpless, Somewhere Studio
4.Benay Gürsoy Toykoç & Ali Ghazvinian, ForMat Lab; Arman Khalilbeigi Khameneh & Esmaeil Mottaghi, Paragen Creative Studio
5. Leslie Lok & Sasa Zivkovic, HANNAH

PROJECT MANAGERS
︎ Collette Block
︎ Leila Ehtehsham
︎ Dina Chujun Luo
︎ Meredith Magness
︎ Chris Osterlund

GRANTS
︎ UVA Jefferson Trust
︎ UVA Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation
︎ UVA School of Architecture



















HEMP HERO



Recent advances in the production of industrial hemp represent a significant opportunity for the development of rapidly-renewable, bio-based composite materials enabling the decrease in carbon emissions and energy consumption in both the construction and operation of buildings. Industrial hemp is ideal for carbon sequestration as it absorbs more carbon dioxide (CO2) per hectare than any forest or commercial crop during plantation growth, making it one of the most sustainable crops available. Alternative building materials that employ fibers and hurds obtained from this low input and potentially carbon-negative crop offer substantial climate benefits.

Hemp Hero is a structurally insulated panel (SIP) composed of two sheets of hemp board and a mycelium interlayer.

FORMAT
Prototype

DATES ACTIVE
2022

PRESS
Reasons to be Cheerful

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Osman Ozbulut
︎ Lisa Colosi-Peterson

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
︎ Mia Hsu
︎ Emily Ploppert

GRANTS
︎ UVA Environmental Resilience Institute Co-Lab Grant











PILLOW FORMING


Typical digital fabrication systems used to create complex curving geometries often require a time and material-intensive process in which a series of molds are made out of foam or some other mass of material. Each mold’s geometry is specific to a surface, and can therefore only be used once.

Pillow Forming is an adaptable system that allows the surface geometry to be highly controlled via a digital workflow and eliminates the use of wasteful, single-use molds. The machine consists of a rigid plywood surface and a grid of one foot cubic inflatable pillows made of clear vinyl that can be inflated individually. The flexible top surface of each pillow is attached to all neighboring pillows, such that when they are inflated to different heights, they create a single and continuous surface, against which material can be cast or formed.

A digital workflow allows the machine to be operated from a 3D digital model, translating average surface heights into inflation times for each pillow in the surface. The flexible nature of the vinyl pillows allows their tops to bend and curve, reforming a smooth, continuous geometry.
FORMAT
Machine

DATES ACTIVE
2019 - 2020

PAPER
🕮 “Pillow Forming: Digital Fabrication of Complex Surfaces through Actuated Modular Pneumatics”, 2021

PATENT
U.S. Provisional Patent Serial No. 63/253,693, filed October 8, 2021

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann

RESEARCH ACKNOWLEDGMENT
︎ Rachel Crosslin
︎ Zherti Jasa
︎ Rose Gowder

GRANTS
︎ University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design, Tennessee Architecture Fellowship
︎ University of Tennessee Office of Undergraduate Research Spring Semester Research Assistant Award









SMART CROSS-LAMINATED BAMBOO


Smart Cross-Laminated Bamboo (SCLB) is a material that takes advantage of the best qualities of both Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) and Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), while offering a more sustainable material stream, a thinner profile, and a computationally informed custom interior structure. Because such panels are custom built for each job, SCLB intelligently arranges bamboo poles for specific structural applications. SCLB utilizes the naturally lightweight and hollow bamboo to form structural panels that can accommodate insulation and utilities within the thickness of the material.

FORMAT
Prototype

DATES ACTIVE
2019 - 2022

PRESS
Metropolis Magazine
Architect Magazine

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Jonas Hauptman

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
︎ Mason Millner
︎ Alex Munro
︎ Jack Wasielewski

GRANTS
︎ Center for Architecture Arnold W. Brunner Grant
︎ Virginia Tech Major SEAD Grant

DATE COMPLETED
2020

DESIGN
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann






RETOOLING BAMBOO TECTONICS


Bamboo is a rapidly-renewable, low-carbon, sustainable building material, yet it remains underutilized due to laborious manual evaluation and fabrication as well as deeply-rooted aesthetic stigmas. This project developed an democratized, intelligent, digitally-enhanced fabrication system for the evaluation, milling, and joining of structural bamboo. First, Visual, noninvasive evaluation of the bamboo poles was performed through low-data photographic imaging and analysis. Second, the resulting digital models of each bamboo pool was input into a parametric part selection model which adapted the larger geomtry to the inventory of bamboo poles.
FORMAT
Demonstration Column

DATES ACTIVE
2018 - 2020

PAPERS
🕮 ”Digital Fabrication of Standardless Materials”, 2019
🕮 “Addressing barriers for bamboo: techniques for altering cultural perceptio,” 2019

PRESS
Metropolis Magazine
Redshift
Inch Magazine
Sustainable Construction Materials
Architect Magazine

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Jonas Hauptman

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
︎ Lizzie Needham
︎ Connor Brown
︎ Tim Cox
︎ Ellie Cuthrell
︎ Brian Gore
︎ Aria Hill
︎ Mason Millner
︎ Alex Munro
︎ Jack Wasielewski

GRANTS
︎ American Institute of Architects Upjohn Research Initiative







LUSH


This exhibition presents an expanding body of work by 2019-2020 Tennessee Architecture Fellows Katie MacDonald and Kyle Schumann, including teaching, research, and creative work conducted during and following the Fellowship. Holistically, the work argues for a rethinking of materials in architectural production, forgoing the knowability of standardization for the embodied intelligence and variability of grown matter.

FORMAT
Exhibition

LOCATION
Art and Architecture Building Gallery, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee

DATES EXHIBITED
Sep - Oct 2021

DESIGN
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann


SYMPOSIA






PROJECTING FELLOWS



Each year, many American architecture schools conduct searches for and appoint early-career fellows to join their programs and develop an intensive research or teaching project over a short-term, adjunct appointment. With the fellowship comes some combination of project support, cross-pollination between research and teaching, and a platform with which to present and exhibit the work. Commonly selected via national call for proposals, fellowship projects are dually indicative of current interests in academia and emerging institutional agendas.

Projecting Fellows was a five-evening, virtual symposium which brought together the 2019-2020 class of fellows from American architecture schools to explore a cross-section of emerging interests in the discipline, as well as the vehicle of the fellowship project.
FORMAT
Symposium

LOCATION
University of Virginia School of Architecture, Charlottesvile, Virginia (Virtual)

DATES
Jan 05, 2021
Jan 12, 2021
Jan 19, 2021
Jan 26, 2021
Feb 02, 2021

CURATORS & CONVENERS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann

FELLOWS
︎ Viola Ago
︎ Menatalla Ahmed Agha
︎ Priyanka Bista
︎ Galo Canizares
︎ Jacob Comerci
︎ Zach Cohen
︎ MatīssGroskaufmanis
︎ José Ibarra
︎ Michael Jefferson
︎ Karen Kubey
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Zannah Matson
︎ Piergianna Mazzocca
︎ duardo Medier
︎ Adam Barrett Miller
︎ Amelyn Ng
︎ Galen Pardee
︎ Ryan Roark
︎ Zahra Safaverdi
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Young-Tack Oh
︎ Hans Tursack
︎ Benjamin Vanmuysen

MODERATORS
︎ Maya Alam
︎ Erin Besler
︎ Neeraj Bhatia
︎ Brandon Clifford
︎ Sekou Cooke
︎ Felipe Correa
︎ Dana Cupkova
︎ Alvin Huang
︎ Sylvia Lavin
︎ Jason Young

RESEARCH ASSISTANT
︎ Ash Haoran Zhang



AUTHORSHIP & THE ANTHROPOCENE


The gravity of the current climate crisis is indebted to mankind’s historic reliance on models of infifinite growth, tending to supersede the needs of non-human organisms and systems. Conceptions of design authorship in architecture and beyond likewise center on the primacy of humanity in the Anthropocene.

The latent biomaterial revolution promises to liberate designers from an anthropogenic paradigm, subverting the primacy of human beings over nature, proposing a new system for assigning value, and uncovering potentials for symbiosis with nature. Biological materials and processes offer embodied intelligence developed and refifined by iteration over millennia (morphogenesis) suggesting an immense knowledge base from which architects can learn.

A close analysis of authorship through the lens of process, rather than product, reveals potentials for new alignments between architecture and ecology. Four emerging designers will share their approaches at the intersection of biology, technology, and design intent and speculate on new models of authorship that establish symbiotic relationships between designer and environment.
FORMAT
Symposium

LOCATION
University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design, Knoxville, Tennessee

DATE
Mar 6, 2020

CURATORS & CONVENERS:
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann

SPEAKERS
︎ Edward Becker
︎ Jessica Colangelo
︎ Ryan Roark
︎ Charles Sharpless



DIGITAL TWINNING



“Tangential Timber: Non-linear Wood Masonry.”


Hybrids and Haecities: Proceedings of the 2022 Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 27-29 October, 2022), 2023.
FORMAT
Paper Proceedings

DATE
2022

AUTHORS
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Abigail Hassell




“Learning From Logs: Introductory Analog and Digital Pedagogy Addressing Material Irregularity.”


Post-Carbon: Proceedings of the 27th International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia, (The University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney, 9 - 15 April 2022) Volume 1, pp. 355-364, 2022.

FORMAT
Paper Proceedings

DATE
2022

AUTHORS
︎ Kyle Schumann





“Branching Inventory: Democratized Fabrication of Available Stock.”


Projections: Proceedings of the 26th International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia, (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 29 March - 1 April 2021) Volume 1, pp. 513-522, 2021.

FORMAT
Paper Proceedings

DATE
2021

AUTHORS
︎ Kevin Saslawsky
︎ Tyler Sanford
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann



“Twinned Assemblage: Curating and Distilling Digital Doppelgangers.”


Projections: Proceedings of the 26th International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia, (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 29 March - 1 April 2021) Volume 1, pp. 693-702, 2021.


FORMAT
Paper Proceedings

DATE
2021

AUTHORS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann



“Digital Fabrication of Standardless Materials”


Ubiquity and Autonomy: Proceedings of the 2019 Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (The University of Texas at Austin, 21-26 October, 2019) pp. 266-275, 2019.
FORMAT
Paper Proceedings

DATE
2019

AWARD
☆ Autodesk ACADIA Emerging Research Award, Paper Category: Runner Up, 2019

AUTHORS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Jonas Hauptman

FORMING




“Pillow Forming: Digital Fabrication of Complex Surfaces through Actuated Modular Pneumatics”


Toward Critical Computation: Proceedings of the 2021 Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (Virtual, 3-6 November, 2021), 2021.

FORMAT
Paper Proceedings

DATE
2021

AUTHORS
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Katie MacDonald






“Airforming: Adaptive Robotic Molding of Freeform Surfaces through Incremental Heat and Variable Pressure”


Intelligent & Informed: Proceedings of the 24th International Conference of the Association for Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA), (Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, 15-18 April 2019) Volume 1, pp. 33-42. 2019.

 
FORMAT
Paper Proceedings

DATE
2019

AUTHORS
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Ryan Luke Johns

BIOMATERALS




Research-Build: Biomaterial Invention through Design Studio Pedagogy



IN COMMONS: Proceedings of the 111th Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Annual Meeting. (ACSA 2023) (St. Louis, Missouri, March 30 – April 1, 2023) pp. 293-302, 2023.
FORMAT
Paper Proceedings

DATE
2023

AWARD
Design Build Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, 2023

AUTHORS
︎ Kyle Schumann







“After Standards”


Cornell Journal of Architecture 12: After, Ed. Val Warke et al. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University (2022): 120-133.
FORMAT
Magazine Article

DATE
2022

AUTHORS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann






“A Verdant Future: Bioagency in the Material Realm”


Madame Architect: The Expert, April 21, 2020.




FORMAT
Web Article

DATE
2020

AUTHOR
︎ Katie MacDonald








“Addressing Barriers for Bamboo: Techniques for Altering Cultural Perception”

Future Praxis: Applied Research as a Bridge Between Theory and Practice, Proceedings of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium 2019 International Conference (ARCC 2019), (Ryerson University, 29 May - 1 June, 2019) Volume 1, 307-315, 2019.

FORMAT
Paper Proceedings

DATE
2019

AUTHOR
︎ Kyle Schumann
︎ Jonas Hauptman
︎ Katie MacDonald


ENGAGED PRACTICE





“Materializing Memory: The Camp Barker Memorial, Washington, D.C.”


Empathic Design: Perspectives on Creating Inclusive Spaces. Editor: Elgin Cleckley. Island Press, 2024.
FORMAT
Book Chapter

DATE
2024

AUTHOR
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann





"Camp Barker Memorial: From Object to Urban Mediator."


Expanding the View: 109th Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Annual Meeting Proceedings. (ACSA 2021), (Virtual, March 24-26, 2021), pp 599-606. 2021.
FORMAT
Project Proceedings

DATE
2021

AUTHOR
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann






"The Memorial: Present Semiotics of the Past."


Pidgin 27. Ed. Jonah Coe-Scharff et al. Princeton, NJ: Pidgin (2020). 104-117.
FORMAT
Magazine Article

DATE
2020

AUTHOR
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann




“Social Engagement and the Construction of Place”


The Ethical Imperative: Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture 106th Annual Meeting Paper Proceedings (ACSA 2018), (University of Colorado Denver 14-17 March, 2018) pp. 43-47, 2018.
FORMAT
Paper Proceedings

DATE
2018

AUTHOR
︎ Katie MacDonald


REGIONALISM




“Villaggio ENI: Enrico Mattei and Edoardo Gellner build a new Italy.”


The Routledge Companion to Italian Fascist Architecture, Eds. Kay Bea Jones, Stephanie Pilat, pp. 408-422, 2020.
FORMAT
Book Chapter




FORMAT
Book Chapter

DATE
2020

AUTHORS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann





"Shepherds and Skiers: Architects of the Slopes in the Italian Dolomites."

 
Hard Pack Magazine. Ed: Zach Seely (Winter 2023 Issue). Print. April 2023.
FORMAT
Magazine Article

DATE
2023

AUTHORS
︎ Katie MacDonald
︎ Kyle Schumann





"Alpine Modernism: Sensitive Identities and Regional Placemaking."

 
Tradition and Invention: RAMSA Travel Fellowship 2013–17. Robert A.M. Stern Architects: 2018.
FORMAT
Book Chapter

DATE
2018

AUTHORS
︎ Kyle Schumann