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The Built Environment

Architecture, engineering and construction affect us as individuals, as communities, as nations and as a world. Whatever the scale, the built environment needs to be economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. We seek to enable this by developing knowledge, tools and materials that enhance "triple bottom line" sustainability at all stages of a project's life. 

Our academic and research programs include Structural Engineering and Geomechanics , Architectural Design, Construction Engineering and Management, Design-Construction Integration and Sustainable Design and Construction.

Cradle-to-Cradle Design

Our built environment will be sustainable only when its social and environmental context is given rigorous attention at all stages of a project’s life from planning, design and construction to operation, demolition and reuse.

We can no longer allow short-term economic savings to override the potential social unrest of introducing new infrastructure with higher long-term fees. We can no longer believe that considering the environment means being mindful of the natural habitat being displaced by a project and yet ignore resource use, emissions and landfill volume resulting from every project decision. We must improve our fragmented understanding of the interactions between the built environment and its natural, social and economic contexts.


Through partnerships with industry, utilities, non-profits and governmental agencies, our research insights and the technologies we devise are frequently applied in practice.

Current projects include work on new structural methods that are reshaping building codes in earthquake-prone areas; software tools for managing massive construction projects; novel zero-energy water treatment systems for developing nations; and a new generation of rapidly recyclable building materials that are made from reused waste.

Model of the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Construction Productivity Gains from Virtual Design and Construction Are Finally Taking Hold

A veteran researcher's perspective

Stanford University
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Professor John Dabiri's Field Laboratory for Optimized Wind Energy (FLOWE) was established with the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to demonstrate innovative approaches to wind energy that have the potential to concurrently reduce the cost, size, and environmental impacts of wind farms. Activities at FLOWE include meteorological, power, and radar measurements of up to 24 portable, vertical-axis wind turbines in dozens of configurations, including the Stanford ‘S’ shown in this aerial footage.

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
computer vision illustration
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

In the construction industry, many projects involve remodeling or refurbishing existing buildings, and such jobs often face delays or cost overruns when hidden problems emerge. “Renovation projects live and die by the quality of information,” according to Martin Fischer, a Stanford professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Days after the recent magnitude 7.8 earthquake that shook Ecuador, three Stanford researchers flew to the country to study the damage and learn from the recovery efforts. The temblor on April 16 triggered significant destruction and killed an estimated 660 people and injured more than 27,000 more.

Obayashi Professor in the School of Engineering, Emeritus
Adjunct Professor
Adjunct Professor
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

With almost all of our graduate programs ranked in the top five nationally, Stanford seems to have an incredible repertoire of graduate curricula. However, one program is glaringly missing: a graduate school for architectural design. While many elite schools like Harvard and Yale have had graduate programs in architectural design for over 50 years, it’s crazy to think that we never had such a program.

We once did. At some point in the 1970s, when we realized that our program was not competing with other programs in the country, Stanford shut it down.


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