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CalPoly Pomona

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Pomona, California

When the Precast Studio at CalPoly Pomona started in 2009, it was only the third studio funded by the PCI Foundation. Since that time, thanks to the work of the local precasters, PCI West, and the school, the studio has continued on in various formats with a number of professors at its helm. In 2021, the original professor, Axel Schmitzberger, returned to teach the studio.

When coming back to the studio, Schmitzberger needed a project to teach precast that would allow students to be creative and learn design, and still best use the precast concrete elements. “I started researching what project made sense for precast concrete, and decided to look at tsunami evacuation facilities,” says Schmitzberger.

Because the students were all learning remotely, teaching the course meant Schmitzberger needed to make some adjustments to studio. He chose to have the students work in teams and used some of the PCI West funding to equip students with virtual reality headsets so they could position themselves in the building, conduct walk throughs, and better understand the modular assembly.

By looking at precast case studies of previous buildings the students could understand how virtual reality may come into play on future projects it may assist the precast industry in the future. For example, Mark Hildebrand President of Willis Construction presented the Broad Museum in Los Angeles as a case study for the students. Schmitzberger said that the complex geometry and assembly system led the students into a great discussion of how the entire assembly system might work in virtual reality.

Following the studio in the fall, Schmitzberger ran a precast materials-based seminar using the same ideas and continue the model. Four of the students from the fall studio also took the seminar and then traveled to the PCI Convention in New Orleans to learn more about PCI and the precast industry.

Unique Program Aspects

  • Longest continuously running precast studio in the PCI Foundation program

  • Students used Virtual Reality to supplement learning when designing tsunami tower

  • Architectural studio focused on precast in the fall followed by materials-based seminar in the spring

  • Students focused on stairs and precast components in the tsunami tower

  • PCI West and Coreslab Structures, LA sponsored an awards program for best precast solutions; three teams were given monetary awards.

  • Working with Cal-Poly Pomona students and supported by PCI West and Coreslab Structures, LA, a virtual plant tour was developed and filmed at Coreslab Structures, LA. During the studio, the students were not permitted to participate in any fieldtrips.


  • Axel Prichard-Schmitzberger, Professor

Industry Partners

Coreslab Structures

  • Larry Bohne

  • John Clausen

PCI West

  • Ruth Lehmann

Willis Construction

  • Mark Hildebrand

Student Statistics

  • Architectural students, 4th year and graduate students

  • 12 students in fall semester tsunami studio

  • 24 students in spring semester precast materials seminar

  • 4 students traveled to the PCI Convention


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