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PCI Foundation Adds Studio at Georgia Tech

In June, the PCI Foundation recently approved a 4-year grant to the Georgia Technology Institute (Georgia Tech) to run a new Precast Studio in the School of Architecture and the School of Engineering. 

“Our mission is to provide students with the ability to mediate the design space between complexity and constraints in order to produce exciting buildings that can be built with an economy of means and positive societal impacts,” says Professor Tristan Al-Haddad who will lead the program. “In order to achieve this, we focus on computational tools and machines in our teaching and research such that mature material systems, such as precast concrete, can continue to evolve, thus advancing our broader mission of excellence and stewardship in the AEC industry.”

The program will run for two consecutive semesters each year starting in the fall of 2017.  The first semester (fall) will be a jointly taught architectural design studio in the third year of the graduate program, with additional student participation from our Master of Science program in Digital Design and Fabrication, which is a one year post-­‐professional program.

ARCH 6011 - Parametric Precast Architectural Design Studio in the fall will be taught by Professor Al-Haddad with a Ph.D. student as a co-instructor. Professor Gentry will serve as the primary engineering consultant within the studio and will join periodically for design reviews and desk crits.  Industry partners will be invited to give lectures on various subjects related to precast design, fabrication, and construction and will also be invited to design reviews.  Each year the site and program will be redefined in order to test a variety of design approaches to be evaluated at the end of the four-year program. From a concrete technology perspective, the topics to be explored will include: adaptable precast parking systems, total precast systems, novel forming methods, parametric patterning, modular variability, precast for extreme climates, mass-­‐customization, integrated systems/unitized precast to illustrate a few.

In the spring semester, ARCH 8803 – Parametric Precast Concrete will take place. The spring workshop will be structured as a technical development, engineering, and prototyping workshop that advances and develops the best design from the fall studio. The spring semester workshop will be a collaboration with the Civil Engineering Capstone course where the engineering students partner directly with the architecture students to produce a full set of design calculations and details.  Professor Gentry will lead the Civil Capstone students and will collaborate with Professor Al-­‐Haddad on overall project planning. 

Peter Finsen of the Georgia/Carolinas PCI will be the lead industry partner, working along with the professors and students. The lead faculty members on this proposal have a demonstrated track record of innovation in concrete construction, precast and cast-in-place, as both academic research and professional practice.  The goal of this proposal is to bring key organizations within the concrete industry together to collaboratively support a R&D precast concrete teaching lab at Georgia Tech to advance knowledge and practice in precast concrete design and construction.

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