Jenny Sabin

Jenny E. Sabin is an architectural designer whose work is at the forefront of a new direction for 21st-century architectural practice — one that investigates the intersections of architecture and science and applies insights and theories from biology and mathematics to the design of material structures. Sabin is the Arthur L. and Isabel B. Wiesenberger Professor in Architecture and director of graduate studies in the Department of Architecture at Cornell University where she established a new advanced research degree in matter design computation.

Sabin is principal of Jenny Sabin Studio, an experimental architectural design studio based in Ithaca, and director of the Sabin Lab at Cornell AAP. She holds degrees in ceramics and interdisciplinary visual art from the University of Washington and a master of architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. Her book LabStudio: Design Research Between Architecture and Biology, coauthored with Peter Lloyd Jones, was published in 2017. Sabin won MoMA and MoMA PS1's Young Architects Program in 2017 with her submission, Lumen.

Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • Architectural design
  • Architectural installations
  • Architectural practice 
  • Architectural technology
  • Collaborative practice
  • Ecological practice
  • Sustainability

Sabin specializes in adaptive architecture, bioinspired design, material computation, programmable matter, sustainability, responsive materials, digital ceramics, biomimicry, and Kirigami geometry.

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Classes (Selected)

  • ARCH 5116, ARCH 8913 and ARCH 4101/4102, 5101: Option Studio: Digital Ceramics: Clay TectonicsThe New York City vertical studios engage contemporary issues through examining urban and infrastructural issues in relation to ecological, technical, and cultural practices. 
  • ARCH 5116, ARCH 8913 and ARCH 4101/4102, 5101: Option Studio: Biosynthetic Robotic Fabrication: Digital Handcraft & Weird TectonicsThe New York City vertical studios engage contemporary issues through examining urban and infrastructural issues in relation to ecological, technical, and cultural practices. 
  • ARCH 4605/6605 Special Topics in Construction: Digital CeramicsThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to the subject of Construction. The instructor(s) of the course are drawn from the permanent and visiting faculty who may either broadly or narrowly define the course's scope and content. For precise content, please see the Architecture Department webpage.
  • ARCH 4605/6605 Special Topics in Construction: Matter Design ComputationThis course addresses pertinent issues relative to the subject of Construction. The instructor(s) of the course are drawn from the permanent and visiting faculty who may either broadly or narrowly define the course's scope and content. For precise content, please see the Architecture Department webpage.
  • ARCH 5113 M ARCH I Core Design Studio 3: Bike + StationThese studios use an expanded form of design practice to address meta-issues in contemporary society. They recognize that architectural production is becoming increasingly heterogeneous and networked, and that real-world projects are seldom defined by site boundaries, or the work of a single profession. Design research and speculation are used to situate projects within larger social, political and environmental systems, creatively and inclusively engage the perspectives of other actors shaping the built environment, and opportunistically orchestrate real world processes and interactions.

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • National Science Foundation EFRI ODISSEI: Cutting and Pasting - Kirigami in Architecture, Technology, and Science. Principal investigators: Randell Kamien, Shu Yang, Dan Luo, Jenny Sabin (2013–18)
  • National Science Foundation EFRI-SEED: Energy Minimization via Multi-Scalar Architectures. Shu Yang (PI), Jenny E. Sabin, Nader Engheta, Jan Van der Spiegel, Peter Lloyd Jones (co-PIs), Andrew Lucia (senior personnel) (2010–14)
  • Graham Grant for Individual Collaborative Projects (publication/documentation); awarded for production and publication of LabBook by Sabin and Jones (2009–10)
  • Pew Fellowship in the Arts for architecture and design, Philadelphia (2010)
  • USA Knight Fellow (2011)

Exhibitions and Presentations (Selected)

  • Invited and nominated keynote speaker, U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, National Academy of Engineering; "Applications of Insights from Biology and Mathematics to the Design of Material Structures," United Technologies Research Center (2017)
  • Mutations-Créations / Imprimer le monde (Printing the World), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2017)
  • Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum; Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, New York City (2016)

Publications (Selected)

  • Jenny E. Sabin and Peter Lloyd Jones, LabStudio: Design Research Between Architecture and Biology (London and New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis, 2017). 
  • Ferda Kolatan and Jenny E. Sabin, Meander, Variegating Architecture (Exton: Bentley Publications, 2010).
  • "Transformative Research Practice: Architectural Affordances and Crisis," Journal of Architectural Education, (Taylor and Francis, 2015).
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