The PCI Research Studio at New Jersey Institute’s J. Robert and Barbara A. Hillier College of Architecture and Design focuses on the application of precast concrete in designing affordable housing micro-units. It gives students opportunities to learn how to transform design ideas into built reality. The two aspects of the studio, construction design and housing design, involve several industry partners.

The PCI Foundation’s grant, in particular, adds new coursework to the studio, exposing the students to precast concrete as a construction system. In doing so students are analyzing and developing ideas for new strategies for mass customization, construction and assembly processes. “We are trying to create a system where everything is prefabricated in the factory in a controlled environment, and then brought to the site and assembled quickly. That creates a much more controlled construction process with less parties involved,” said Riether.

By participating in the program, HCAD students are able to: (1) understand the capabilities and limitations of precast concrete and other building enclosure materials; (2) make informed decisions about material selection for formwork construction and its different performances; (3) experiment working with precast concrete and other materials; (4) acquire graphic representation and construction techniques to build a full size mock panel; (5) develop the ability to create molds for the construction of architectural precast concrete panels; (6) experience a design-build approach working closely with their industry partner; (7) gain experience in collaboration with industry partners and professionals; and (8) incorporate sustainable principles in enclosure performance and material selection.

Principal Investigator

Gernot Riether, M.Arch, MS. Arch
Associate Professor, Coordinator Graduate Programs
Hillier College of Architecture and Design, NJIT
566 Weston Hall, Newark, NJ 07102 

PCI Mid-Atlantic Partner

Photo Gallery

This Studio, led by Professor Gernot Riether, a hands-on approach for students to design, develop, document and construction panel assemblies.

Read NJIT’s article “Architecture Students Innovate Precast Concrete for Affordable Housing Micro-Units”