2023 ACSA/AIA Intersections Research Conference: Material Economies, October 19-21, 1-4pm, Amherst, Massachusetts

  • 19 October 2023 To 21 October 2023
  • Start time : 01:00 PM
  • End time : 04:00 PM
  • Event Host : Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)
  • Event Location : University of Massachusetts Amherst, Hampshire, Amherst, MA, 01003, United States
2023 ACSA/AIA Intersections Research Conference: Material Economies, October 19-21
Event Description

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) are pleased to continue the conference partnership dedicated to the intersection of education, research and practice. The 2023 ACSA/AIA Intersections Research Conference seeks to find what roles architects, designers, and researchers can play in the paradigm shifts necessary to practice with radical material responsibility. The conference will take place October 19–21, 2023 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

At this in-person conference, attendees will gain an increased awareness of research happening in both academia and design practice. The conference will create opportunities for new partnerships, sources of funding and collaborations. It will be a chance for both established researchers as well as those looking to enhance their research capabilities, with sessions, breakouts, workshops and networking events.


R. Buckminster Fuller famously re-conceptualized the idea of material economy by asking “How much does your building weigh?” Nearly one hundred years later, our notion of material sustainability and the “weight” of building materials has taken on a more expansive meaning.  Our current understanding of materiality suggests serious challenges related to the sustainability, resiliency, and human health impacts of our architectural materials.  According to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global Alliance of Buildings and Construction (Global ABC)  nearly 50% of the carbon footprint over the next decade for today’s projects is the embodied carbon from construction. To meet the climate commitments of the Paris Agreement (COP21), it is these immediate emissions that are most critical. The Living Building Challenge’s Red List has raised awareness of the thousands of unregulated toxic chemicals present in our industrial economy, and hiding in our buildings, from our water pipes to our furnishings.

Despite the staggering scale of these problems, the scope of our industry suggests an opportunity to shift the material economy. Architecture 2030 cautions that buildings represent 40% of the world’s carbon emissions, and the International Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development finds that buildings comprise nearly 50% of the world’s material economy. The AIA’s Architecture & Design Materials Pledge, currently signed by more than 200 leading design firms, outlines the enormous opportunity for industry transformation, calling for more consistent metrics and a shift towards greater material transparency and accountability related to human, ecosystem, and climate health, social equity, and circularity. Are calls for greater transparency shifting the market from one that is extractive to one that is cyclical, and from one that is exploitative to one that is equitable? How does an expanded notion of material “weight” impact design? What forms of research are needed to address the most critical barriers in the design and delivery process for architects sourcing materials and assemblies to nurture and sustain ecosystems and strengthen communities?


Across all submission types, this conference asks what roles architects, designers, and researchers can play in the paradigm shifts necessary to practice with radical material responsibility.


  • Host Company/Organization Name
    • Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)
  • Agenda
    • Below are Add-on events that include Tours, Workshops & Friday Evening Dinner

      Hemcrete Workshop
      Campus Sustainable Tour
      Friday Dinner
      Campus Brutalism Tour
      Living Buildings Tour

      - Hemcrete Workshop :Pre-Conference Workshop

      Dive into the world of plant-based building materials with Hempstone’s introduction to Hempcrete, a bio-composite material created from the woody core of the hemp plant combined with a lime-based binder that can be used for construction and insulation. Trusted around the world as a robust, high-performance sustainable building system, Hempcrete entered the US market a decade ago and is poised to take the natural building industry by storm because it is net carbon storing, non-toxic and flame, water and pest resistant.

      - Campus Sustainable Tour

      UMass Amherst is a leader in campus sustainability and is on a pathway to carbon neutraliity with initiatives that address advocacy, building, energy, food, landscape, recycling, transportation, and water. The tour will include several of the major capital projects that have transformed the campus core during the last decade including examples of adaptive reuse, sustainability, state-of-the-art new facilities, and major utility and landscape upgrades.

      - Drinks & dinner after the keynote.

      - Campus Brutalism Tour

      - Living Buildings Tour
  • Speakers / Presenters
    • Keynote Speakers:

      Mae-ling Lokko is an Assistant Professor at Yale University’s School of Architecture and Yale’s Center for Ecosystems in Architecture (Yale CEA).

      Chandra is a Principal at LEVER Architecture, a practice recognized for design excellence and innovative work with mass timber construction.
  • Event type
    • Conference

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