DOCTORAL STUDIES in Architecture MILESTONES 2015-16_Current Students

Building Technology:

ALAA ALGARGOOSH (2015 cohort) received US Patent #9058799 for her ‘sound diffuser inspired by the cymatics phenomenon’ on Jun 16, 2015. This new sound diffuser allows for the design of different interior spaces by changing the arrangement of diffuser panels. It can generate a uniform polar response over the frequency range 400Hz- 4000Hz, and can be used to maintain the acoustic energy in a room. At the same time, it can treat unwanted echoes and reflections by scattering sound waves in many directions. Algargoosh received Saudi Patent #4439: Sound diffuser inspired by cymatics research on October 23,2015. She delivered “Energy Conservation by Retrofitting: An Overview of Office Buildings in Saudi Arabia” on May 22-23, 2015 at the International Conference on IT, Architecture and Mechanical Engineering.

NILOUFAR EMAMI (2012 cohort) received the BARBOUR Fellowship from UM for 2015-16. In collaboration with Professor Harry Giles Emami published “Geometric Patterns, Light and Shade: Quantifying Aperture Ratio and Pattern Resolution in the Performance of Shading Screens” in the Nexus Network journal. It can be found here:

She also participated in the IASS Conference in Summer 2015 in Amsterdam presenting two research papers on form finding and structural glass.  The full papers can be found here:

ANAHITA KHODADADI (2013) was awarded the 2015 Vakhshoori scholarship for her hard work, community service and lofty educational and career goals ( Khodadadi presented “The Active Learning Approach in Teaching Structural Concepts to Architecture Students” at the International Association of Shells and Spatial Structures (IASS) Annual Symposium in the Netherlands, Amsterdam in Summer 2015.

AZADEH OMIDFAR (2013) was the recipient of the Doctoral Student Award in 2014. A two-year research project funded by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) in 2014 yielded two publications at the IES Conference in Indianapolis, IN (Omidfar 2015; Omidfar, Niermann, and Groat 2015). Omidfar has published four conference papers alone or in partnership since 2014, including “Performance-Based Design of a Self-Standing Building Skin; A Methodology to Integrate Structural and Daylight Performance in a Form Exploration Process,” with Omid Oliyan Torghabehi, and Peter von Buelow (International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures IASS symposium, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2015).


OMID OLIYAN TORGHABEHI (2012) received the Rackham International Student Fellowship for outstanding international students in February, 2015. He published the conference paper, “Developing a Computational Approach Towards Performance-Based Design and Robotic Fabrication of Fibrous Skin Structures” with Wes McGee and Alireza Seyedahmadian (International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures IASS symposium, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2015).                                                                       

Design Studies:

IRENE BRISSON (2014) published “Ground Rules for Humanitarian Design” in Wiley’s AD Reader series in May 2015. The book introduces key concerns in humanitarian design, postcolonial theory, and self-reflexive architecture practice. Brisson participated in the Institute for Social Change organized by Arts of Citizenship at the University of Michigan with an interdisciplinary cohort of graduate students. She lectured on architecture for social work students at the Enstiti Travay Sosyal in Port-au-Prince in summer 2015. Her experiences in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake yielded “Critical Spaces of Exception: Reconstruction and Reproduction of Exclusionary Construction Practices in Haiti”, a paper delivered at Rule & Form (University of Michigan February 2016). She participated in a panel with Harley Etienne (Taubman College) on Production of Space in Haiti: Perspectives of Planning & Architecture at the Caribbean Studies Association conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in June 2016.

MATTHEW NIERMANN (2013), Assistant Professor of Architecture at California Baptist University as of January 2016, published “The Missional Function of Architecture: New Considerations for a New Era” in Evangelical Missions Quarterly (2015). He has presented at three international conferences in the past year, including “The Use of Environmental Aesthetics in Subjective Evaluation of Daylight Quality in Office Buildings,” with Linda Groat and Azadeh Omidfar (2015).

KUSH PATEL (2009) received the 2015-16 Imagining America PAGE Fellowship to support scholarly and pedagogical training at the intersection of publicly engaged humanities and design. He received Imagining America’s Key of Excellence Award from the National Arts & Sciences Initiative of the Phi Beta Kappa Society at IA’s 15th Annual National Conference in Baltimore. In 2015, Kush was an Engaged Pedagogy Fellow with U-M’s Center for Engaged Academic Learning and a Mellon Public Humanities Fellow with Rackham’s Arts of Citizenship Program. He recently presented a paper at the RWTH Aachen in Candide’s  Second Annual Conference, entitled “Streitsache: Architecture as Matter of Contention”, and another at the 45th Annual EDRA Conference “Building with Change” in New Orleans, for which he was also a session chair.

History/ Theory:

MICHAEL ABRAHAMSON (2012) published “Welcome to Brutalism” in the Arts & Culture section of London’s Sunday Times (25 October 2015), on his longstanding love for Brutalist architecture and why it should be preserved in the US and UK alike.

MAJA BABIC (2014) presented two conference papers (EAHN 2015, Belgrade, Serbia and UM Germanic Languages and Literatures) on her work “Postwar Design in Sarajevo and the Effects of Politics and the Economy,” and “Sarajevo City Hall—the Politics and Construction of a Postwar Society.” She will deliver “Architecture and Politics in Yugoslav Successor States” at the Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference in Pasadena, in April 2016.

ELIZABETH KESLACY (2010) was a Dissertation Fellow at the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library in Fall 2015. She recently published “Fun and Games: The Suppression of Architectural Authoriality and the Rise of the Reader” in Footprint  (TU Delft). Keslacy presented “Alles ist Design: Hans Hollein, the Cooper-Hewitt and MANtransFORMS (1976)” at the 2015 ACSA Fall Conference at Syracuse University; she will deliver “Architecture as Design: Hans Hollein and MANtransFORMS (1976)” at SAH Pasadena in April 2016.

JOSS KIELY (2011) presented “Ornament and the Sublime: ‘Autonomous Contingency’ in the Work of Minoru Yamasaki,” at the 2015 ACSA Fall Conference at Syracuse University. Kiely currently holds a Rackham One-Term Dissertation Fellowship and is completing his dissertation on Minoru Yamasaki’s work in the United States and Saudi Arabia. Kiely returns to the Annual Meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ) at the Melbourne School of Design from July 6-9, 2016 to deliver, “Liquid Gold in the Desert: The Dhahran Civil Air Terminal and the Architecture of Oil, 1958-81.

BENJAMIN J. SMITH (2011) was the 2014-2015 Design of Theory fellow at SCI-Arc where his job underscored the necessity for theory in contemporary architectural design. In addition to his ongoing dissertation research on the institutional history of SCI-Arc, his responsibilities for the fellowship included teaching graduate and undergraduate design studios and theory courses, and advising thesis students on the theoretical premises of their projects. This past year Smith published an article in SCI-Arc Magazine accounting for Eric Owen Moss’ career at the school. He also published two articles in issue 8 of SCI-Arc’s journal Offramp on SCI-Arc history. As managing editor of issues 9 and 10 for Offramp, Smith oversaw the publication of two polemical issues, “Lies” and “Useless.” “Lies” interrogated the status of representational practices in current discourse. “Useless” questioned architecture’s alternatives for cultural value. Offramp 10 featured an interview he conducted with SCI-Arc director, Hernan Diaz Alonso. His involvement in a future book about the SCI-Arc Gallery from 2010-2015 included editing the twenty gallery talks featured. This spring Smith will give a public lecture at SCI-Arc on a new body of research. The lecture theorizes a contemporary architectural context of post digital virtuosity by addressing what should be done when expertise with technology no longer hinders the possibilities of what could be done.            

MARIA TAYLOR’S (2010) Rackham Pre-doctoral Fellowship for 2015-16 joins an impressive roster of grants including a Fulbright Fellowship and a Weiser Center Fellowship from UM. Taylor is completing her dissertation on the greening of Siberian cities in 2016.



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