Design Museum Mornings Lecture

The robots and artificial intelligence are coming. They are rolling into all walks of life and all corners of the world. How will we live together, as humans and robots, and how will we ensure that we build a better world? How are robotics and AI impacting architecture and design?

Dr. Mahesh Daas, President of the Boston Architectural College, presents findings related to his recent book, Towards a Robotic Architecture. The field of robotics is coming of age. Robotics and artificial intelligence represent the next cutting edge technology to transform the fields of architecture and design. The past decade’s surge towards more computationally defined building systems and highly adaptable open-source design software has left the field ripe for the integration of robotics whether through large-scale building fabrication or through more intelligent/adaptive building systems. Through this surge, architecture has not only been greatly influenced by these emerging technologies, but has also begun influencing other disciplines in unexpected ways.

Named Eighth President of Boston Architectural College

BOSTON, June 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Boston Architectural College’s Board of Trustees has named Mahesh Daas, M. Arch, Ed.D., as the College’s eighth president, effective July 12, 2019. He will succeed Glen LeRoy, FAIA, FAICP, who announced he would be retiring at the end of this academic year.

Mahesh Daas is a designer, a technologist with expertise in robotics, and an experienced academic leader who chronicled the presidential leadership of former MIT president Charles M. Vest. His career spans 23 years at four universities including 14 years in higher education leadership roles. Most recently, he served as dean of the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

In 2011, Daas was elevated as an Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Distinguished Professor, the highest national recognition for an architectural educator. He was recognized for contributions to design computing with the 2013 Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) Society Award of Excellence. ACADIA elected him twice as its president and he served on the editorial board of the International Journal of Architectural Computing and currently serves on the editorial board of Construction Robotics Journal.  

“Mahesh is a visionary leader who has a proven track record of success,” said Richard Martini, B. Arch. ’84, BAC Board of Trustees Chair. “His experience and entrepreneurial vision uniquely align with the College’s needs today and our vision for the future. We are very excited to welcome him to the BAC community, where he will guide the College into the 21st century,” he said.

“I am honored to be chosen as the next BAC president, and to further propel our proven practice-based education of the designers, developers, and builders of the world’s built environment,” President-elect Daas said. “My life and educational experiences as a first-generation student and first-generation immigrant resonate with the experiences of many of the BAC’s students. Through our collective teamwork, I am confident we will continue the strong vision of building upon the strengths of this venerable institution. My goal is to continue the path of promoting creativity, diversity, and inclusiveness within all of the design professions. The BAC is, and has always been, a beacon for innovation―for all of our students, our alumni, our faculty and staff, and all of the communities we positively impact,” he said.

Daas earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, India; a master’s degree in urban design from Kansas State University; and an executive doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. Daas is also the author of Leading with Aesthetics: The Transformational Leadership of President Charles M. Vest at M.I.T. (Lexington Books, 2015 & 2019) and Towards a Robotic Architecture (Oro Editions 2018).

The 12-person BAC Presidential Search Committee included representatives from the faculty, student body, Alumni Council, and Board of Trustees, and was led by Judith Nitsch, Board of Trustees vice chair and founding principal of Nitsch Engineering.

According to Nitsch, “From the very beginning, a crucial component of the process has been engaging with the BAC community to hear what was wanted and needed in a leader. This input required us to focus on attracting a deep, diverse, and talented pool of candidates.” She continued, “Mahesh’s nomination as the next president received a unanimous vote of the Search Committee and unanimous approval from the Board of Trustees―we believe he is the leader who will advocate fervently for the BAC and its broader community.”

Over the next several months, the BAC will hold numerous events for members of the BAC and greater Bostoncommunities to welcome and engage with President-elect Daas.

Founded more than 129 years ago, the BAC offers bachelors and master’s degrees in architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture, and design studies, which includes sustainable design, historic preservation, real estate development, and design for human health. Throughout its history, the College has upheld the importance of open admission, diversity, dedicated faculty, and the intrinsic value of both academic and experiential education.

SOURCE Boston Architectural College (BAC)

Journal Issue on AI & Robotics in Architecture

Happy to announce the publication of the latest issue of IJAC on AI and Robotics in Architecture that I’ve had the pleasure of co-editing with Andrew John Wit, Lauren Vasey, Vera Parlac, Mara Marcu, Wassim Jabi, David Gerber, and, Mark Clayton

CTBUH Reviews our Book on Robotics

A thoughtful review of our book (with Andrew John Wit) by Richard Marshall, BuroHappold in CTBUH Journal:

“The McKinsey Global Institute in 2013 published a report that highlighted 12 disruptive technologies. Two of those technologies, advanced robotics and 3D printing, are intertwined in Towards a Robotic Architecture, and the potential impact of both is clearly set out in the book.”

#technology #robots #robotics #reviews

ETH Zurich Robotics Panel Discussion

I am delighted to be co-chairing a panel discussion at the Robotics in Architecture international conference hosted by ETH, Zurich. The panel features leading robotics experts in architecture from around the world:


Mahesh Daas (moderator)

Andrew John-Wit (moderator)

Sigrid Brell-Cokcan is the founder and director of the new Chair of Individualized Production at RWTH Aachen University and co-founded the Association for Robots in Architecture in 2010 together with Johannes Braumann.

Kendra Byrne is trained in architecture and a Software product manager with expertise in robotics, cloud software, and user experience.  She has held product management positions with a mix of robotics companies, including Google and Bot & Dolly, and currently in the process of getting a new company off the ground. Bot & Dolly played a key role in the making of the film Gravity.

Matthias Kohler is a founding member of Gramazio + Kohler Research, world’s first architectural robotics lab, at ETH Zurich.

Achim Menges is a registered architect and professor at the University of Stuttgart, where he is the founding director of the Institute for Computational Design and Construction since 2008. He has also been Visiting Professor in Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design from 2009 to 2015.

Sina Mostafavi is a practicing architect, researcher, and educator. Has practiced architecture since 2007, he is the founder of SETUParchitecture, a firm that offers consultancy for innovative design solutions to construction processes. He is currently the manager and coordinator of Robotic Building Lab at Hyperbody group of TU Delft.

Journal Article: Ontology of Robotic Architecture

My latest article w/ Andrew John Wit, “An Ontology of Robotic Architecture” is now available in the latest issue of The Plan Journal. V3 no.1!

Talk at the UNITED NATIONS on Cities and Robots

One of the 12 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is #11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. On June 19, 2018, a conference was held at the UN in New York City on the topic of “The Role of Technology Implementing the New Urban Agenda to Achieve Sustainable Development.”

I was honored to speak on the panel on Emerging Technologies and address “Cities and Robots,” based on my recently co-edited book Towards A Robotic Architecture. The panel was chaired by H.E. Mr. Michal Mlynar, Permanent Representative of Slovak Republic to the United Nations, and moderated by Prof. Urs Gauchat, CSU, Dean Emeritus, NJIT College of Architecture and Design.

My fellow panelists include Mr. John Paul Farmer, Director of Technology & Civic Innovation, Microsoft; Mr. Jason Whittet, Associate Director in Innovation in Urban Data and Technology, Rockefeller Foundation; Prof. Sarah Williams, Associate Professor of Technology and Urban Planning; Director, Civic Data Design Lab, MIT School of Architecture and Planning; and Prof. Philip Bernstein, FAIA RIBA LEED AP, Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer, Yale School of Architecture.


Images courtesy the United Nations.

Talk at Studio CHI/DePaul University, Chicago

I was quite honored to address a multi-disciplinary audience at Studio CHI of DePaul University on May 29, 2018 on the topic of “Towards a Robotic Architecture: Robots Are About Being Human.” A reception and book signing ceremony followed.




Autodesk’s Redshift features our new book

“With a nod to Vers Une Architecture, Le Corbusier’s seminal 1923 collection of essays, Towards a Robotic Architecture casts a hopeful eye on the discipline’s technological future. Co-edited by Mahesh Daas, dean of the School of Architecture & Design at the University of Kansas, and Andrew John Wit, assistant professor of digital practice at Temple University, the work frames the possibilities for robots and artificial intelligence (AI) in architectural design.”


Architect’s Newspaper Chooses Our Book as the Top Tech Book of 2018

Architect’s Newspaper chooses Towards A Robotic Architecture as the top of the top technology books of the year.

Architecture and Design Australia News covers our new book

Architecture and Design Australia News covers our new book Towards A Robotic Architecture:

TARA_Table of Contents


Keynote at NDSU Explore Undergraduate Research Symposium

Honored to give the keynote talk “An Inconvenient Education for an Uncertain Future” at North Dakota State University’s NDSU Explore undergraduate research symposium on November 1, 2017.

The social, demographic, economic, technological and existential context for higher education has changed significantly in the last 50 years. Old paradigms of undergraduate education rooted in the notions of stable career paths in a predictable world are giving way to new paradigms geared for an uncertain future. Daas will detail select organizational and educational models of experiential/design pedagogy and research that engage undergraduate students in knowledge creation, entrepreneurship and leadership aimed at developing self-actualized individuals who can innovate under conditions of uncertainty.


Towards A Robotic Architecture: Book Cover & Posters


I am thrilled to share with you the cover design and a poster celebrating the pioneering contributors to the forthcoming book Towards A Robotic Architecture that I have co-edited with Andrew John Wit. We were fortunate to have collaborated with graphic designer, Professor Nagesh Shinde to produce an absolutely stunning, provocative, poetic book that is a visual and tactile delight!

In this book, we attempt to show not only the terrestrial impact of architectural robotics, but also the interplanetary impact it is bound to have. Currently there is no one book in the field that provides a comprehensive overview of architectural robotics, a void this book intends to fill. With these intentions and motivations in mind, we have organized the contents into four sections that follow four distinct themes: Framing Architectural Robotics, Robotectonics, Robotic Architectures and Robotic Futures.

The book has been listed on all major book seller sites for pre-orders. Stay tuned for more announcements and posters in the coming weeks leading up to the release of the book in early spring 2018!

TARA POSTER 11i4CoverPhotoCOVER AUG 17 spread

Global Impact visits to China, India & South Korea

Six universities in five cities in China and South Korea have established productive relationships and potential joint degree programs.

Tongji University, Shanghai; Nanjing Technological University, Nanjing; South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou; Chang’an University, Xi’an; Chung Ang University, Seoul; and Incheon National University, Incheon are vibrant places enthusiastic about pursuing academic collaborations.

I have had the pleasure of being a commencement speaker at Nanjing Technological University, and delivering a talk in Guangzhou.

I have also enjoyed visiting Yushan village near Xi’an, where architect Ma Quingyun and the American Academy of China have undertaken village development work where KU could participate.

In India we are exploring two partnerships: Mysore University and the School of Planning and Architecture in Vijayawada

Here are some snippets from my visits:

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Review of “Leading with Aesthetics” in Planning for Higher Ed (journal)

Harper, D. J. (2017). Leading with aesthetics: The transformational leadership of charles M. vest at MIT. Planning for Higher Education, 45(2) Jan/Mar 2017, 118-119. Retrieved from

Leading with Aesthetics The Transformational Leadership of Charles M. Vest at MIT by Mahesh Daas Lexington Books 2015 171 pages Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4985-0249-8

IN AN ERA OF DRASTICALLY SHIFTING PARADIGMS for institutions of postsecondary education, Mahesh Daas offers a novel approach to leadership: leading with aesthetics. At once both a text on leadership theory and a quasi-presidential biography, this book redefines the traditional understanding of aesthetics from a philosophical appreciation of beauty to an integral component of institutional reform, campus planning, and optimistic thinking. A narrative highlighting the second-longest-serving president of MIT, Charles M. Vest, Leading with Aesthetics offers insight into Vest’s ability to push beyond transactional leadership (Birnbaum 1992) into the realm of transformational leadership. Sprinkling his work with a collection of quotes from those who worked closely with Vest as well as Vest himself, Daas helps the reader track the 14-year presidency that changed not only the visuals of the MIT campus but also the spirit and character of a community.

Tempting the reader with a cover that features the controversial architecture of Frank Gehry, this work begins with a quick review of leadership theory paired with a brief lesson on leadership’s ties to Vitruvian principles of architecture in Part I. Daas launches into the discussion and discovery of how leaders can leverage a refined definition of aesthetics as part of an overall transformational leadership strategy by starting with his central theme: aesthetics are “foundational to our experience as human beings and essential to how we encounter the world in a way that defines our identity and affirms our existence” (p. 2). It is with this definition that Daas is able to construct his story of the MIT experience during Vest’s tenure.

At the conclusion of Part I, Daas has set the stage for the more engaging Part II. Moving from a campus nicknamed the “Gray Factory” to one that would garner world recognition for its “starchitecture,” Vest’s legacy lies not only in the buildings he successfully erected but also in the transformational leadership he mastered in steering MIT into the 21st century. So evocative were the changes to the MIT campus under Vest’s leadership that it sparked John Silber (2007), past president of Boston University, to pen his own response, Architecture of the Absurd: How “Genius” Disfigured a Practical Art, a critique of contemporary architecture and what Silber saw as the drift from practical applications of architecture in favor of the absurd.

Why focus on aesthetics and specifically the architecture of a campus for his investigation of leadership? Daas cites the research of numerous earlier studies in creating his own foundation (Broadbent, Bunt, and Jencks 1980; Eco 1979; Giedion 1967; Jencks 1991; Preziosi 1979; Rykwert 1982; Strati 1999c, 2010) and concludes, “the architecture of an organization is a fundamental organizational artifact that provides the most tangible, spatial, and material continuity for an organization’s mission, identity, and meaning” (p. 5).

As a reader, Daas’s discussion of leading with aesthetics left me wanting a stronger and more applicable operational definition of aesthetic leadership and yearning for more images of the MIT campus, particularly ones rendered in color to counter the impression of the Gray Factory nickname. At the same time, anyone who has had to rally financial or emotional support for the physical campus will be spirited by the narration of Vest’s approach to assembling a leadership team and struggling with donors, alumni, and community alike. Without proclaiming the success or failure of Vest and his endeavors, Daas concludes, “as the single largest investment and asset for any institution, the physical plant and architecture encompass all aspects and all stakeholders of an institution, which presents a president with an opportunity-if understood well-to advance the institution’s mission and evolve institutional identity through enduring change” (p. 135).



Birnbaum, R. 1992. How Academic Leadership Works: Understanding Success and Failure in the College Presidency. San Francisco: JosseyBass.

Silber, J. 2007. Architecture of the Absurd: How “Genius” Disfigured a Practical Art. New York: Quantuck Lane Press.



DANIEL J HARPER, MA, MID, NCIDQ #014453, currently serves as assistant dean of facilities and IT for the College of Fine Arts at Ohio University and also teaches in the interior architecture program. His research explores the intersection of technology and design and design education. He has been a practicing interior designer for over 20 years, and he can be reached at


Panel: Doctoral Education in Architecture, Santiago, Chile

Engaging, timely, and energizing discussion about doctoral education in architecture. Pleased to share the panel with Branko Kolarevic at the ACSA International Conference Administrators’ Track. Great setting at the School of Architecture at the Catholic University of Chile.

Meeting with Chilean Academics and Architects

Honored to meet President Jose José Antonio Guzmán C. & cabinet members and prominent Chilean architects at Universidad de Los Andes, Santiago. Great discussion, gorgeous campus and a great institution!

Thom Mayne of Morphosis Interview

Link to video here.

On March 16, 2015, I have had the privilege of interviewing Thom Mayne of Morphosis for an hour that was taped in Ball State’s TV studio to be broadcast in about two weeks. It was delightful, insightful, and touches upon his origins, childhood, formative years, and how they relate to his creative work. He was very generous and open, and kept saying how insightful it has been for him to gain a new understanding of himself in relation to his work. While he has given hundreds of interviews, this is the first time he talked about his personal life and times he spent growing up in Gary, and Tipton, Indiana and beyond. The recording will, hopefully, become a valuable resource to understand Thom Mayne’s extraordinary career, life, and contributions to architecture, design, and urbanism. (Photo credit: Chris Helms, BSU, and Don Rogers, BSU_PhotoServices)

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Future of Design Education Panel, Fargo, ND

Will be part of the panel discussion at North Dakota State University’s symposium on the Future of Design Education on March 26 and 27, 2014.

Excerpt from the symposium web site:

To expand critical dialogue on design education, engaging the public, academia, and practice, the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture will host a symposium addressing “the future of design education,” featuring panel discussions and open forums between diverse participants of strong national, regional, and local reputation in design fields.

The symposium is proposed to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Department, and in this context, will provide an opportunity for participants to critically reflect on the trajectory of design education over a considerable time period, even as they speculate about future directions.


Architectural Robotics Paper Published, Uruguay

“Towards a Taxonomy of Architectural Robotics” was published in the proceedings of Sociedad Iberoamericana Grafica Digital (SIGRADI) 2014 Conference, Montevideo, Uruguay, 2014.




Pedagogical Experiment Published, ACADIA

247_Page_1 With Andrew Wit, Caylon Beville, Shannon Buchanan, and Adam Dally, “Urban Network,” Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) conference, Los Angeles, 23-26 October, 20247_Page_214. Design pedagogy.

Studio Reviews at U of Virginia


Conversation with Roy Eggink, Boeing 747 Cheif Engineer

On January 9, 2014, I sat with Roy Eggink, the Chief Engineer of Boeing 747-8 program and Professor Harry Eggink of Ball State’s Architecture Department about a collaborative initiative between Boeing and Ball State. A short version of the conversation could be found here.

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2013 ACADIA Society Award of Excellence,


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The Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture   MEDIA CONTACTS: Gregory Luhan, 2013 ACADIA Awards of Excellence Chair, 859-492-5942gregory.luhan@uky.eduDavid Celento, 2013 ACADIA Media Relations, dcelento@gmail.comFOR RELEASEACADIA Announces 2013 Awards of ExcellenceLEXINGTON, Ky. (October 8, 2013) – The Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) Awards Committee releasedthe names of the 2013 Award of Excellence Recipients. This year’s awardees will be honored on 24-26 October 2013 as part of the ACADIA 2013 ADAPTIVE ARCHITECTURE International Conference ( at the University of Waterloo in cooperation with the University at Buffalo, SUNY and the University of Nottingham.   Inaugurated in 1998, the ACADIA Award of Excellence represents recognition, by colleagues worldwide, of consistent contributions and impact upon the field of architectural computing.

The ACADIA Award of Excellence categories include: Digital Practice that recognizes creative design work that advances the discipline of architecture through development and use of digital media; Innovative Research that recognizes innovative research that contributes to the field of digital design in architecture; Innovative Academic Program that recognizes an innovative academic program that contributes to the education of students in the field of digital design; Teaching Excellence that recognizes innovative teaching in the field of digital architecture; and the Society Award that recognizes extraordinary contributions and service to the ACADIA community.  

The 2013 ACADIA AWARD OF EXCELLENCE awardees are:   Excellence in Digital Practice – Cecil Balmond, Balmond Studio Balmond Studio is a research-led practice of architects, designers, artists and theoreticians run by one of the world’s leading thinkers on form and structure Cecil Balmond. With offices in London, U.K. and Colombo, Sri Lanka, Balmond Studio has a global reach and fast growing presence in the fields of architecture, art, design and theory. In addition to full architectural and consulting services including project management and cost consultancy, the studio is committed to offering multi-faceted experiences through installations, exhibitions, interior design, art projects and publications. Blurring the boundaries between art and structure, Balmond has also been highly influential in a raft of renowned projects including the CCTV Tower with Rem Koolhaas and Serpentine Pavilions, with architects Toyo Ito, Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura.

Innovative Academic Program – AADRL – Brett Steele and Theodore Spyropoulos of the Architectural Association (London) The DRL at the AA in London is one of the world’s most international graduate design programs. The DRL is a studio-based design course teaching advanced architectural design. Each year it attracts talented architects from around the world, who come to the course to attain further post-graduate education in advanced architectural design and the relationship of architectural design to contemporary urbanism and urban settings, through the making of innovative architectural design projects. The course was founded 1997 by Brett Steele, now director of the AA and Patrik Schumacher, partner at Zaha Hadid Architects. It is currently led by Theodore Spyropoulos who has served as a co-director from 2005-2009 and as the DRL’s sole director from 2009-present. Since its inception the course has maintained its unique team-based approach to design and continues to build upon its innovative teaching framework in the fields of computation, material behavior, generative design, fabrication, prototyping and urban development. Excellence – Greg Lynn UCLA, Greg Lynn FORM Greg Lynn is an innovator who continues to pioneer the fabrication and manufacture of complex functional and ergonomic forms using CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machinery. The buildings, projects, publications, teachings, and writings associated with his office have been influential in the acceptance and use of advanced materials and technologies for design and fabrication. He is the Davenport Visiting Professor at Yale University and a Studio Professor at UCLA’s school of Architecture and Urban Design where he is currently spearheading the development of an experimental research robotics lab. His teaching has spanned nearly two decades of highly innovative teaching at a number of schools worldwide, including Columbia University, ETH in Zurich, UCLA, Yale, and Angewande in Vienna.

Innovative Research – Elena Manferdini, Atelier Manferdini Atelier Manferdini is an interdisciplinary design firm that has been long advocate of design excellence that blurs the boundaries between imaginative architecture and product design. Her creative research work that uses the potentialities offered by digital tools and media to innovate the design approach in different fields and at different scales of complexities; for her ability in sharing the results of her researches in the international debate about the innovative use of digital approach in design; – for her ability in turning the results of her researches in real practice and reinforce the consistency of her work both in the theoretical field and in the empirical one.

Society Award – Mahesh Daas, Ball State University Mahesh Daas is the Chairperson of the Department of Architecture and Irving Distinguished Professor of Architecture at Ball State University. He is a recognized academic leader and the ACSA Distinguished Professor of Architecture. Dr. Daas has served as the Emerging Media Fellow of the university’s Center for Media Design from 2008-2011 and his current research spans leadership studies, higher education innovation, pedagogy and design computing. He is also a scholar of organizational behavior, organizational aesthetics and psychodynamics of organizations and leadership. ACADIA (Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture) has elected Dr. Daas twice as its President and he continues to serve as a consistent mentor and critical voice within the ACADIA Organization for many years. ACADIA (The Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture) is an international network of digital design researchers and professionals. We facilitate critical investigations into the role of computation in architecture, planning, and building science, encouraging innovation in design creativity, sustainability, and education. Membership is open to educators, students, professionals and academic libraries with an interest in computer-aided design. ACADIA has members from all over the world, including members from the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific Rim. Visit to access today’s news, in addition to archived news stories and announcements. acadia