Nathan Brown, a graduate student in Building Technology in the Department of Architecture and member of the Digital Structures group, has been awarded the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) Foundation 2016 Structural Engineering Traveling Fellowship.
The fellowship "offers an applicant the opportunity to expand their professional education beyond the classroom through the observation of buildings, design, culture and history that can only be achieved through travel," according to the SOM Foundation. Brown’s research focuses on interactions between structural considerations and other architectural-performance criteria in conceptual design.
“The design of modern buildings and other structures demands the ability to synthesize multiple design goals simultaneously,” Brown says. “This is largely true because of an increased emphasis on overall performance and design sustainability, of which structural material efficiency is only one consideration.”
“We are delighted that Nate has won this important fellowship,” writes Brown’s advisor Caitlin Mueller, an assistant professor of building technology, director of the Digital Structures group, and co-director of the Structural Design Lab. “It will allow him to expand on his research on multi-objective optimization done at MIT, by visiting a diverse collection of buildings that he has curated around the theme of design for a range of priorities — for example, structural efficiency and energy performance — that interact and trade off in unexpected ways. His itinerary, which will take him across four continents, is sure to deeply impact him as a designer and researcher.”
While at MIT, Brown has also worked with John Ochsendorf, the Class of 1942 Professor of Architecture with a dual appointment in Civil and Environmental Engineering who co-directs the Structural Design Lab. Brown's research in the area of computational multi-objective optimization for structural and architectural design has been presented at both design and technical venues.
Brown earned his undergraduate degree in civil and environmental engineering at Princeton University in 2012, along with certificates in architecture and urban studies. Prior to attending MIT, Brown worked on building energy retrofit projects for Elevate Energy in Chicago.
The Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship is a $20,000 award that aims to foster an appreciation of the aesthetic potential in the structural design of buildings and bridges by enabling a gifted graduate to experience works of architecture and engineering first-hand, and to influence the practice and teaching of structural engineering in the future.