Being Plastic/Becoming Plastic

Red Chair

Investigate the circular economy of plastics with a cadre of artists, designers, researchers, and industry leaders who build, process, and study plastics. They will address the multi-scalar challenges of how to live and innovate with one of the most widely used materials of modern times. 

An accompanying exhibition will be on view Monday, March 11 – Wednesday, March 27, 2024 in the Campbell Elmaleh Gallery. 

Visit the Being Plastic/Becoming Plastic website for details.


10am – 12pm
Morning Session: Being Plastic
Campbell 158

Speakers (bios below): 
Phoebe Crisman, Blaine Brownell, Billie Faircloth 

Panel Moderator: 
Jeana Ripple, Chair + Associate Professor of Architecture, UVA School of Architecture


12 – 1:30pm
Exhibition Opening & Lunch Break
Campbell Elmaleh Gallery


1:30 – 4pm
Afternoon Session: Becoming Plastic
Campbell 158

Speakers (bios below): 
JT Bachman, Marshall Prado, Maria Paz Gutierrez, Virginia San Fratello

Panel Moderator:
John Comazzi, Associate Dean of Academics + Associate Professor of of Architecture, UVA School of Architecture


JT Bachman

Speaker and exhibitor JT Bachman is a registered architect whose research explores methods of diverting material from landfill by reprocessing "waste" into new building material prototypes and/or long-lasting functional objects. JT is a co-founder and principal of Office of Things, an architecture collaborative that explores the multiplicities of a constructed environment that is at once playful and rigorous, clean and dirty, high and low. OO-T’s work spans a wide range of project types, including immersive architectural installations, interactive environments, restorative spaces, and strategic planning and design for contemporary offices.

Blaine Brownell

Speaker Blaine Brownell, FAIA is an architect and researcher of emergent materials and sustainable building technologies and Professor and Director of the David R. Ravin School of Architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. A former Fulbright scholar to Japan, he has authored nine books on advanced and sustainable materials for architecture and design, including Matter in the Floating World, Material Strategies, and the four-volume Transmaterial series. His latest book The Pandemic Effect addresses the inoculation of the built environment. 

Phoebe Crisman

Speaker Phoebe Crisman, AIA is a Professor of Architecture and Director of the pan-university Global Studies program at the University of Virginia. Her public interest design practice creates sustainable architecture and regenerative urban places, including the Learning Barge, Paradise Creek Park Learning Lab, River Academy, and ongoing urban coastal resilience projects supported by a $5 million NSF grant. Crisman’s Indigenous Ecologies research ranges from co-designing an off-the-grid Bundle Carriers Camp with a Dakota tribe in South Dakota to the Black Power Station with a Xhosa arts collective in South Africa.

Karola Dierichs

Exhibitor Karola Dierichs is an architect. She holds the Cluster Professorship of Material and Code at Weißensee School of Art and Design Berlin within the Cluster of Excellence Matters of Activity (MoA) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin of which she is also a principal investigator. In addition, she is working as a scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam. At MoA, Dierichs has contributed to key exhibitions and has co-founded the sub-group “Syntopic Architectures.” 

Billie Faircloth

Speaker Billie Faircloth is a design leader and educator who has transformed practice-based research and earned a national and international reputation for demonstrating its value, methods, and outcomes. As partner and research director at the Philadelphia-based architectural practice KieranTimberlake, Billie led the firm’s Research Group between 2008–2024. This transdisciplinary team has been recognized for applying research, design, and problem-solving processes from fields as diverse as environmental management, industrial ecology, chemical physics, materials science, and sculpture. Billie is Adjunct Professor at the Weitzman School of Design in the Environmental Building Design program and the Robotics and Autonomous Systems program.

Maria Paz Gutierrez

Speaker and exhibitor Maria-Paz Gutierrez is an inventor and Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley. Her research group, BIOMS, explores materials engineering, science, and architecture, focusing on materials regenerative functionalities and cultures across scales. Gutierrez's research and design have been featured in leading scientific, architectural, and public forums, including Science Nation and the BBC, and has been published in leading journals such as Science and Nature and exhibited internationally. She also holds an international patent on non-planar 3D printing and a provisional patent on 3D printed living materials for indoor regeneration. 

Marshall Prado

Speaker and exhibitor Marshall Prado is an Assistant Professor of Design and Structural Technology at the University of Tennessee. He has previously taught at the University of Stuttgart, in the Institute for Computational Design and Construction and the University of Hawaii. He has led several workshops on digital design and fabrication techniques. His current research interests include integrated computational design, robotic fabrication, additive manufacturing, and lightweight fiber composite systems for architectural applications. 

Virginia San Frantello

Speaker and exhibitor Virginia San Fratello is an architect, interior designer, and educator. She is Chair of the Department of Design at San José State University in Silicon Valley. San Fratello is the co-author of Printing Architecture: Innovative Recipes for 3D Printing, a book that reexamines the building process from the bottom up and offers illuminating case studies for 3D printing with materials like chardonnay grape skins, salt, and sawdust. She is a partner in Emerging Objects, a creatively driven, 3D Printing MAKE-tank specializing in innovations in 3D printing architecture, and a co-founder of Forust.


Ehsan Baharlou

Dr. Ehsan Baharlou is an Assistant Professor of Architecture, Advanced Technologies, at the University of Virginia School of Architecture. His work focuses on integrating design computation and the process of materialization.

Research Assistants:

Avery Edson (MArch '25)
Juliana Jackson (MArch '25)
Eli Sobel (MArch '24)
Tabi Summers (BS Arch ‘24)

The Being Plastic/Becoming Plastic symposium and exhibition are funded by the Jefferson Trust and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost & the Vice Provost for the Arts at the University of Virginia.


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