UT Austin’s Materials Lab Received $60,000 Grant to Reframe Collection with Emphasis on Sustainable Materials | New


The University of Texas Materials Laboratory and Interior Design Program at the Austin School of Architecture received a $60,000 grant from the Angelo Donghia Foundation. The money will be used to reinvent the way students learn about materials by reframing the Materials Lab’s existing collection to better showcase sustainable products.

Starting this fall, two graduate students and an undergraduate interior design student will work closely with Jen Wong, Lecturer and Director of the Materials Lab, to restructure the circulating library and digital databases of initiative. They will be tasked with using industry standard sustainability criteria and certifications from resources including the Mindful Materials Database, the International Living Future Institute and Building Green, to develop a new classification system for the collection. It will highlight materials related to circularity, embodied carbon, health and toxicity, and social equity.

“For the Interior Design program, in particular, the Materials Lab is an invaluable resource that enables hands-on, tactile engagement with materials and introduces students to the many possibilities of the products that form the built environment,” says Igor Siddiqui, Associate Professor and Director of the Interior Design Program. “Today, as the introduction of new technologies, climate change and other social imperatives are rapidly redefining how we engage with materials, there is an urgent need for academia to keep pace.”

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“Material literacy is fundamental to the pedagogy and practice of built environment design and planning,” adds Wong. “And yet, many students, educators, and practitioners lack the material knowledge essential to ecological and human health, from understanding the amount of carbon embodied in our most common products to the chemical ingredients of concern in our most intimate interiors.”

Students will also research and find new acquisitions for the collection and organize a series of specific exhibitions inside to present the new materials.

UT Austin’s Materials Laboratory was established in 2001, serving as one of the nation’s largest academic materials collections, with more than 29,000 material samples.

“Students using the collection today will enter their careers with a critical set of material concerns around sustainability, including circularity, embodied carbon, health and toxicity, and social equity,” notes Siddiqui. “Twenty years after the founding of the Materials Lab, there is an urgent need for us to rethink its content and structure so that students of today and tomorrow can become effective practitioners and active stewards of our society and the planet. .”


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