Department of


Associate Professor

Rob Whitehead

Associate Professor, Architecture

Mailing Address

Architecture Department
158 College of Design
Ames, IA, 50011

Contact Information

Phone: (515) 294-8276
Office: 499 Design


BArch, Iowa State University, 1993
MArch, University of Texas at Austin, 1995

On the Web

Research Interests

Critically integrating structural design considerations of process, production, and performance into technically engaging and experientially rich architecture. Emphasis on thin shell and long span structures. 

Integrating contemporary material, and fabrication considerations into the design for deployable structures. Designing structures for resiliency and service in disaster relief, recovery, and preparedness scenarios. Work is prototyped in design-build scenarios.

Development & integration of alternative pedagogical methods for teaching building technology integration and analysis including haptic learning techniques and design-centric lab work. Scholarship of teaching and learning looks at ways to emphasize the role of productive failures in design, particularly in the design ideation and testing phases of structural design.

Portfolio and dossier of scholarly work, teaching, and extension:

Current Projects

Textbook, "Structural Technology in Practice: Think, Make, Break."  Design-based structural exercises applied to a broad range of system classifications (Form, Section, Vector, Surface, and Frame). Text integrates a diversity of generative and analytical techniques (sketching, models, and digital design) as part of the process of learning to design and test  responsive structures. Routledge Books. 

Design-build prototypes for "Structures in Service: Design for Disaster Relief" (with students). Applications include: portable treatment and educational environments for refugees, deployable origami inspired folded plate shelter, retrofitting seismic protections for masonry veracular structures, modular tent flooring system, pneumatic cast concrete for remote locations, etc.

Examining the historical relationships between concrete thin shell designs, engineering, and construction methods. Particular emphasis on pre-computational shell design (e.g., Eero Saarinen and his structural engineers). Historical evolution of form-finding and testing of thin shells including integration of physical models and computational analysis. 

Current Scholarship

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