Carlo Oliveiri

I joined the Form Finding Lab in November 2022 as Visiting Researcher. I received my Ph.D. in Structural Engineering at the University of Salerno, where I am an Assistant Professor, in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley.  In 2016, I received my MSc in Building Engineering and Architecture at the University of Salerno.  After graduation, I worked as Structural Engineer and Assistant Project Manager for an International General Contractor, where I was involved in relevant international projects. Thanks to these experiences, I acquired strong skills in the structural design of reinforced concrete and steel structures, the structural assessment and retrofitting of ancient masonry buildings, and complex project management. Indeed, among other projects, I was the Construction Manager for a stadium in Italy. During my PhD, I developed new strategies for the assessment and form-finding of complex curved structures using the membrane theory and an extension of the classical Thrust Line method to special structures called Linear Arch Static Analysis. This new methodology opens new possibilities to examine the complex topic represented by curved masonry and concrete constructions. I also investigated the dynamics of masonry arches subjected to ground motion from a theoretical and physical perspective. His research is currently directed towards new optimisation strategies for purely compressive shapes subjected to seismic actions and new strategies for using low-carbon material blocks to construct these structures. As co-founder partners of the KEIKO Cultural Association, I organised and participated as Teaching Assistant at the International Summer School on Historic Masonry Structures since 2018

Rafael Pastrana

I pursue a Ph.D. in Architecture and a certificate in Statistics and Machine Learning at Princeton University. I joined the Form Finding Lab in 2022. My doctoral research work explores the application of automatic differentiation and graph-based machine learning to enable the design of safe, efficient, and expressive structures for buildings. I am broadly interested in developing new structural design methods and making them available to others as design tools.


My academic background intersects the fields of architecture, structural design, and computation. I hold a Master of Advanced Studies in Architecture and Digital Fabrication from ETH Zürich. The output of my master thesis was a computational method to generate rebar layouts aligned to principal stress directions on free-form, reinforced-concrete surfaces. Before that, I received a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering with Honors from Tec de Monterrey in Mexico and spent a term abroad at the National University of Singapore.


My professional experience spans both industry and academia. I worked for over three years at Bollinger+Grohmann in Germany where I was responsible for the structural design of geometrically complex sculptures and art installations. At the Block Research Group, I developed software that streamlined the engineering and fabrication of full-scale prototypes for the two rib-stiffened, funicular slabs now featured in the NEST HiLo unit. At Gramazio Kohler Research, and in collaboration with Autodesk, I contributed to the development and deployment of a deep reinforcement learning model that successfully overcame geometrical and material inaccuracies during the robotic assembly of architectural-scale timber structures. When not in front of a computer, I have led the construction of brick-and-mortar buildings using vernacular fabrication techniques in rural Southern Mexico.

Axel Larsson

I joined the Form Finding Lab in September 2021 to pursue a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. Previously, I did an integrated BSc degree in Architecture and Engineering at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. Following graduation, I did a computational design internship at Design-to-Production in Zürich, Switzerland and an architectural engineering internship at Jan Knippers Ingenieure in Stuttgart, Germany. For my master’s studies, I did the research master programme in Architecture and Digital Theory at The Bartlett School of Architecture, London, UK. The topic of my thesis was Physics Informed Machine Learning (PIML) for structural engineering. PIML is a novel technique where prior physics knowledge is incorporated into a machine learning model to make more accurate predictions with greater generalizability. A large part of my studies were conducted as a research internship at TNO Delft where I did a realistic study of the applicability of PIML for structural health monitoring.

I’m broadly interested in programming and mathematics and how to create digital tools to design smarter structures. During the course of my PhD I will continue my work on Machine Learning and to conduct research on, and develop methods to predict the behavior of elastic rod networks.

Derosh George

I joined the Form Finding Lab as a postdoctoral researcher in July of 2021. Before joining Princeton University, I have worked as a researcher in the field of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering for over six years; two years as a Junior Research Fellow (JRF), and more than four years as a Ph.D. student. My work so far has been interdisciplinary; it was a curious amalgam of solid mechanics, material science, and microfluidics. As a JRF, I worked on biomimetic liquid transport systems, whereas my doctoral studies concentrated on developing carbon manufacturing strategies that enable tailoring carbon’s morphology and microstructure. One of the key products of my Ph.D. research is the development of programmable self-foldable films for origami-based manufacturing.  Pivoting on these prior works, I want to focus my future research on advanced manufacturing methods. As a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University, my goal would be to grow a unique research portfolio by building upon my foundation on carbon origami microfabrication. Leveraging on my previous work, in my current research, I want to develop a scalable and high-throughput manufacturing method for complex three-dimensional structures of multiple materials and scales, using appropriate folding mechanisms and computational origami approaches. Ultimately, I want to share the knowledge thus gained from research through mentoring, teaching, and publications.

Lucia Stein-Montalvo

I joined the Form Finding Lab in August 2021 as a Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow. I completed my Masters and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Boston University, where I studied the mechanics of “shape-shifting” in plates and shells–i.e. compelling structures to adopt a different configuration on demand, or in response to a stimulus, through large deformations and instabilities. Prior to this, I received a B.S. in Mathematics from Davidson College, with a minor in Hispanic Studies.

In the Form Finding lab, I am exploring how the mechanics of shape-shifting can inform adaptive architectural design, aimed at improving ventilation and thermal comfort while reducing energy needs in urban landscapes. Specifically, my current areas of research interest are fluid-structure interactions, morphing metamaterials (e.g. kirigami), and dynamic shading.


I encourage enquiries from highly motivated learners who wish to undertake graduate or postdoctoral education with me. Generally, I take between 1 and 3 new graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, who will preferably have applied for external scholarship or fellowship support. Some postdoctoral research funding opportunities include Princeton Materials Science Postdoc Fellowship, Distinguished Postdoc Fellows in Energy and the Environment , Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellows, Marie Curie Fellowship, Ford Foundation Fellowships.  Graduate funding opportunities include: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Ford Foundation Fellowships, Hertz Foundation Fellowship ,Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. For more details on the application procedure, click here.

Isabel Moreira de Oliveira

I joined the Form Finding Lab in September 2020 to pursue a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. I have a B.Sc. degree in Civil Engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) with an academic year abroad at Cornell University, and an M.Sc. degree in Structural Engineering from the University of São Paulo (USP), in Brazil. During my master’s, I developed a connection system for rigid gridshell structures using parametric modeling and digital fabrication. As an outcome of this research, I filed a patent with the support from the university, and I hope it can be used to develop economically feasible structures that use natural materials with high cross-section variability, and with aesthetic quality.

I am curious about how digital fabrication is further used to benefit construction with less waste and smarter use of material. I am fascinated by studies on adaptability and versatility of structural systems, especially those with hidden repetition that can generate unexpected complex forms. In the Form Finding Lab, I am keen on following research that takes advantage of geometric properties and automated digital tools to enhance material usage and applications in a resilient built environment.

Victor Charpentier

Victor Charpentier is a structural engineer and Post-doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University with an interest for anything from personal comfort in building to energy storage. He was born in the Champagne region in north-east France. Victor got his Bachelor and Masters degree from the Ecole Nationale des Travaux publics de l’Etat in Lyon, France and spent some time at Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussée in Champs-sur-Marne, France. He obtained his PhD from Princeton University in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His work focuses on shape-shifting surfaces and on understanding how geometry influences the performance of structural systems. During his PhD thesis, he invented a new system of solar shading based on the principles guiding the movement of plants along with a new control strategy to increase the comfort of people inside buildings. During his post-doc he is developing his design into an advanced prototype.

Tian Yu

I received my PhD in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech in December 2019, and joined Princeton University as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in February 2020. My PhD work was focusing on mechanics of thin structures, such as bifurcations of thin rods/strips/sheets. 

In the Form Finding Lab, I am working on bifurcations and multi-stability of elastic networks (made of slender strips/rods), and mechanics of flexible nets (e.g., dancing nets), through a combination of experiments and numerical simulations. I am also interested in structural design and optimization.

Edvard Bruun

I joined the Form Finding Lab in September of 2019 to pursue a PhD in Civil Engineering. Prior to this, I completed a 5-year B.A.Sc. at the University of Toronto, followed by a 2-year M.A.Sc. where I worked on the topic of torsion in reinforced concrete shells. This research involved testing two large-scale shell elements and deriving a novel finite element for the modelling of reinforced concrete members. Upon graduation, I joined Arup as a structural engineer, and worked on the design and construction of the following structures: Billy Bishop Pedestrian Tunnel, Lassonde School of Engineering, York University Subway Station, Pearson Airport Terminal 1 Expansion, Canadian Canoe Museum, LiveNation Toronto VIP Viewing Deck.

I gravitated to structural engineering for its rigorous technical underpinning, while still demonstrating potential as a field to operate at a fundamentally humanistic scale – bridging the gap between art and science. Also, with two historians as parents, I was infused at a young age with an appreciation for the monuments and relics left behind by prior civilizations, and the challenges of piecing together a coherent story based on limited information. I believe that this interplay of culture, interpretation and application is what drew me to the Form Finding group; we build models of reality, based on limited information (i.e. data), to impact the built environment. In my research, I plan to explore the interdisciplinary topics of digital fabrication and construction automation at the intersection of architecture and engineering – looking specifically at self-supporting masonry construction, augmented reality (AR) assisted construction, and prefabricated reinforced concrete formwork.

Tianju Xue

I joined Princeton University to pursue a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering in September 2017. I received my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. In the spring of 2017, I did an internship working as a product design engineer in Apple Inc. based in Shanghai. In the summer of 2019, I did a research intern in Facebook Inc. based in Redmond.

My current research interest lies in the intersection of computational mechanics and machine learning. In the Form Finding Lab, I work on optimal designs of mechanical metamaterials with data-driven methods. I am also interested in applying reinforcement learning algorithms to controls of soft materials.

Vittorio Paris

I’m a PhD student in engineering and applied sciences at the University of Bergamo, Italy, where I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Building Engineering. Since 2013, I have worked in a research group composed by Prof. Attilio Pizzigoni and researcher Giuseppe Ruscica. We are working on several issues such as urban planning or environmental survey, but my main research field is on herringbone technology. This technology, now lost, was used in the Renaissance by the family of Florentine architects: The Sangallo. It allowed to build domes without any false or framework, thus less time-expensive. I joined the Form Finding Lab in October 2018 as VSRC for few months and here I’ m working with Prof. Sigrid Adriaenssens. We are investigating the possibility to apply the herringbone structure concept  to shells of different shapes.

Jessica Flores

I joined the Form Finding Lab in September 2018 to pursue a PhD in Civil Engineering. I earned my B.Arch with minors in Civil Engineering,  Mathematics, and Fine Arts at the University of Miami in May 2018. While there, I worked on several research projects in the Civil Engineering department, ranging from investigating the effects of micro and nanoscale particles on the material properties of cementitious materials, to investigating tensegrity systems and bending-active systems using dynamic relaxation and cell-based form finding. In the Form Finding Lab I hope to further explore ideas within the intersection of art, architecture, and structural engineering by working on the mechanics of curved creased origami systems.

Joe Goodglass

I joined the Form Finding Lab in August 2018 to pursue the MSE degree in Civil Engineering. I earned my BSc. in Civil Engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 2010 and worked for nine years in the U.S. Coast Guard before departing to earn my MBA at Georgetown University. After obtaining my business degree, I worked as a Senior Consultant for a year before deciding to pursue an advanced degree in Civil Engineering at Princeton University. Currently, I am investigating inflatable flexible membrane dams, hydraulic weirs and alternative storm surge/flood protection mechanisms such as an ‘open fabric’ movable water barrier using synthetic materials in regions prone to storm surge flooding and an aggressive rising water table. One objective of this research is to design storm surge barriers that can manage dynamic wave loading, taking under consideration various parameters, such as internal air pressure, water depth and wave height. These barriers will be customized for specific geographic locations in the New York-New Jersey Harbor and tributaries in the Greater New York City area.

Martina Russo

I’m a PhD student in Engineering-based Architecture and Urban Planning from Sapienza University of Rome (Italy). I graduated in Building Engineering-Architecture and attended a postgraduate specialization in Architectural design for restoration of Historic Buildings and Public Space. My main fields of interest concern the history and construction techniques of reinforced concrete structures, construction system of thin shell roofs as well as conservation and restoration of industrial heritage. The PhD research I’m pursuing focuses on early thin concrete shell systems in Italy, in particular on the work of Italian engineer Giorgio Baroni and his pioneering patents for hypar and conoid roofs. The work with Professor Adriaenssens aims to study whether and how the structural optimization approach affected the durability of form-resistant structures. The main purpose is to deepen the understanding of the relationship between form, features of construction system and building performance in order to support aware decisions during a renovation project.

Giulia Tomasello

I am a PhD student in Civil Engineering at Roma Tre University, Italy where I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Before starting my PhD, I spent more than three years in London working in the structural design team of the engineering firm Pell Frischmann where, as project engineer, I followed the design and construction of the Blavatnik School of Government of the Oxford University. My research is focus on shell structures and I have been working on a new method to assess the funicularity of form found shapes. In January 2018 I joined the Form Finding Lab as a VSRC for a semester to continue to investigate the influence of the shape on the behavior of shells, focusing on their dynamic performance and design in seismic areas.

Andrew Rock

I received my B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2016. While there, I configured an Honors Thesis under the guidance of Professor Arwade, who was himself a Princeton Undergraduate. My thesis involved the experimentation and analysis of an emerging type of porous material: aluminum foam. The central goal of this exploration was to test the effect of pore sizes on the structural foam’s ability to absorb kinetic energy.

I joined Professor Adriaenssens’s Form Finding Lab in the fall of 2016, as a first-year graduate student pursuing a Masters in structural engineering. While still related to finding optimum methods for completing structural tasks, my interests have shifted to form rather than the material makeup. I look forward to cultivating these interests, as I begin my Master’s thesis in the spring of 2017, with a focus on adaptability of pneumatic barriers subject to static and dynamic surge loads.

Lionel Peloux

I’m visiting the Formfinding Lab for 3 months, until end of 2016.  I’m both a structural engineer (@T/E/S/S – since 2010) and a PhD student (@Navier Lab – since 2014) in Paris, France. My research focuses on elastic gridshells in composite material – the way they are designed ; the way they are built. I’m developing new mechanical models and softwares to give architects and engineers the ability to seamlessly imagine, design and built new elastic gridshells. I like to be involved in projects that bring together high level scientific research and large-scale experiment.I’m also interested and involved in innovative education programs such as the THINkSHELL initiative.

Olek Niewiarowksi

Tim Michiels

I joined the Form Finding Lab in September 2014 to pursue a PhD degree in Civil Engineering. I  received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from KU Leuven (Belgium) and obtained a master’s degree in historic preservation from the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation. Before arriving at Princeton, I also worked at the Getty Conservation Institute, researching how to protect historic earthen buildings against earthquakes and conducting field projects in Morocco and Peru. In the Form Finding Lab I hope to further the understanding of the behavior of shell structures subjected to natural disasters such as earthquakes and to design resilient structures using sustainable materials such as rammed earth and adobe. My work at Princeton is generously supported by a fellowship provided by the Belgian American Education Foundation.

Hannah Bands

I am a first year PhD student in the Form Finding Lab of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.  I received my undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in May 2013.  I am hoping to apply my background in sustainability to adaptive, context-appropriate structures using form-finding techniques

Yousef Anastas

I received a Master in Architecture from l’Ecole Nationale Superieure de la Ville et des Territoires, Marne la Vallee in 2011 and decided to pursue my studies in Civil Engineering at l’Ecole des Ponts Paris Tech. I am currently working on my Master thesis in Civil engineering as  a Visiting Student Research Collaborator at the Form Finding Lab, headed by Prof. S. Adriaenssens.

My research field involves biomimetic adaptive building skins, computational design and energy efficient architecture. As an accomplishment of my architecture engineering profile my thesis research project aims at designing and prototyping a parametric facade bearing in mind the climate, the use, the structural optimization and the material properties.

Kendall Schmidt

Victor Charpentier

I am a visiting second year master’s student from Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees in Paris. I’ve studied civil engineering in France at the Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’Etat in Lyon and at the Ecole des Ponts et Chausees in Paris. I’m working at Prof. Adriaenssens’ Form Finding Lab in the Fall of 2013 to do my master’s thesis in the CEE department of Princeton University.

My work is focused on lightweight structures, adaptive structures and computational design. During my thesis I’m working on the design of a novel bio-mimetic smart shading device. I aim at characterizing Aldrovanda vesiculosa’s (the waterwheel plant) movements and at deriving designs and numerical models for smarter facade shading modules. The final goal is to find new ways to regulate the temperature inside of buildings and reduce energy consumption.

Matthew Streeter

Hi my name is Matt Streeter.  I am currently a second year master’s student in the Structural engineering program at Princeton University and an active member of Sigrid Adriaenssens form finding research group.  I grew up in upstate New York, and received an Undergraduate Degree in Civil Engineering from Syracuse University in May 2012.

In my research with Professor Adriaenssens I am using form finding techniques in the structural analysis of Inflatable Flexible Membrane Structures.  Our work applies numerical modeling techniques to identify the stable geometry of membrane structures under specific design loads.  Currently my focus is on inflatable dam structures and their applications to flood control, water storage, and hazard mitigation.  These structures, which often resemble a long inner tube, can be inflated with either air or water, and are capable of resisting hydro-static loads from one or both sides of the dam.  What is intriguing about the inflatable dam system is that internal forces reduce under externally applied loads.  This is due to the pre-stressing which occurs when the membrane is initially inflated.  It is my goal investigate the response of these systems under a variety of constraints if the hopes of optimizing the height of these structures.

Luca Nagy

I am a second year Master’s student in the Mechanics, Materials, and Structures program in the CEE Department at Princeton University. I have a BA in Anthropology from Princeton (2007) and a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering with a focus on Bridge Design from the Budapest University of Technology (2012).

My current research focuses on implementing curved crease origami principles into large scale structures. Curved crease origami has been on the radar of architects since the Bauhaus, but its principles and possible applications are still not well understood. Curved creases would allow for three dimensional shapes to be created from flat surfaces, creating rigid and lightweight structures of complicated shapes. The mechanisms of origami also suggest possible uses in adaptive structural systems. I am currently working on a simple curved origami shape that would serve as both structural shape and the deployment mechanism of an adaptive pedestrian bridge.

Matthew Horner

Hello, my name is Matthew Horner and I am a second-year Master’s student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, working under Professor Adriaenssens in her Structural Form-Finding Lab group.  My research focuses on site-specific Ultraviolet (UV) radiation shading structures.  Many times, structures intended to provide shade to specific target areas do not sufficiently block the sun for much of the course of a typical day, and are designed as more “one-size-fits-all” as opposed to specified to a geographic location.  This is a problem not only for occupant comfort, but for health and safety as well.  UV radiation is a growing health concern particularly when it comes to skin cancer development.  My research has resulted in a form-found wooden compression structure currently in place at Princeton University and pictured here.  UV sensors beneath this structure monitor the radiation levels within its intended shade area, and have not read any radiation levels considered “dangerous” by the EPA.  The resulting procedure that can be easily applied to any geographic location and corresponding time period on the globe.



Horner, M., Rhode-Barbarigos, L., Adriaenssens, S. (2014). ‘Site-specific louvered shells for shading harmful Ultraviolet radiation.’ In: Building and Environment.

Adriaenssens, S; Rhode-Barbarigos, L.; Horner, M.; Charpentier, V. (2014). ’Dialectic Form Finding of Sustainable Integrated Structures.’ IASS conference 2014, Brasilia, Brazil.

Adriaenssens, S.; Rhode-Barbarigos, L.; Kilian, A.; Baverel, O.; Charpentier, V.; Horner, M., Buzatu, D. (2014). ‘Dialectic form finding of passive and active shading enclosures.’ In: Energies (submitted).

Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos

I received my PhD in Structural Mechanics in August 2012 from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and joined Princeton University in October 2012 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate. My research to date has focused on the design and analysis of adaptive and passive structures combining form-finding and analysis methods with advanced computing. My research interests include adaptive structures, structural design and optimization as well as computer-aided engineering.


Patrick D’Ambrosio


Adriaenssens S., d’Ambrosio P. (2011). ‘Finding Forms for Footbridges: a designer’s toolbox’ 4 th International Footbridge Conference, Poland.

Hao Liu

My name is Hao Liu. I am a PhD candidate at the Center for Intelligent and Networked Systems (CFINS) in the Department of Automation, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, since 2008, and will be a visiting student to Prof. Sigrid Adriaenssens’ form-finding lab during the spring semester, 2012.

In Tsinghua University, I major in systems engineering (modeling, analyzing and optimization) and operation research, and work with my PhD advisor Prof. Qianchuan Zhao on theoretical issues like performance estimation and optimization for large-scale complex stochastic systems. We’ve been focusing on a research project supported by General Motors Company, which aims at finding energy efficient building designs for manufacturing plants meeting the demand of occupant comfort and the challenge of uncertainty arising from the climate. So far much work has been done to investigate and estimate the internal loads’ effects on the inner environment in manufacturing plants, to quantitatively estimate the building energy performance, and to develop simulation-based optimization framework for energy efficient building design.

While visiting the form-finding lab in Princeton University, I will be guided by Prof. Sigrid Adriaenssens on developing and validating a design methodology that advocates sustainable design through minimal use of materials by matching
structural design ideas to material-efficient systems through the development of digital tools.


Adriaenssens S.,Liu H., Wahed M., Zhao Q. (2013). Evaluation and Optimization of a Traditional north-light roof on Plant Building energy Consumption. In: Energies 2013, 6(4), 1944-1960; doi:10.3390/en6041944

Alex Jordan

I am a second year Master’s student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, working with Professor Adriaenssens in the Structural Form-Finding Lab. I have a BS in Civil Engineering and a BSAD in Architecture from MIT, where I studied structural form finding and optimization in the Building Technology program. I have continued researching how to design shell structures at Princeton, and my Thesis project is to design a habitable shell structure entirely out of a nonstandard material – chocolate. Since chocolate is not ideal for carrying loads, I have used the tools of form finding, optimization, and parametric design to create a system that is strong, constructible, and aesthetically pleasing. My other projects include constructing a full size bent-lath gridshell as part of a cluster at Smart Geometry 2012, and assisting the students in CEE463 create structural models for the upcoming museum exhibit on German shell design.


Jordan, AJ, Adriaenssens S, Kilian A., Adriaenssens, M, Freed, Z. (2012). ‘Material Driven design for a chocolate Pavilion.‘ In: Computer-Aided Design

Allison Halpern

I am a graduate student in the Mechanics, Materials, and Structures PhD program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University. I received a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a minor in Architectural Studies from Tufts University in the spring of 2008. In the fall of 2008, I entered the M.S.E. program in Civil Engineering at Princeton University and worked with Professor Billington in studying the bridge projects and design philosophy of French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux. After graduating from the M.S.E. program in June 2010, I continued my academic career at Princeton at the PhD level with Professor Adriaenssens as my adviser.

The goal of my PhD research is to develop a design methodology to produce practical structural forms for stability-sensitive, urban footbridges using dynamic relaxation form-finding, deterministic optimization, finite element methods, and governing bridge code requirements.

The accomplishments of the project to date are: 1) the application of dynamic relaxation form-finding to an entire footbridge superstructure to integrate the railing and bridge deck as one structural, form-found system; 2) the coupling of dynamic relaxation form-finding and deterministic geometry optimization to enforce an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant footbridge form; and 3) the combination in one computational routine of an initial form-found footbridge form, deterministic buckling optimization, linear finite element methods, and governing bridge code loading patterns to produce a stability-improved footbridge form.

The immediate goals of the project are: 1) to structurally analyze and design the combined stability-improved footbridge form; 2) to include additional serviceability criterion in the combined computational routine; and 3) to integrate additional, developed dynamic relaxation form-finding algorithms, which control element geometry, into the combined computational routine.


Halpern, A., Billington D. and Adriaenssens S.(2013).‘The ribbed floor slab systems of Pier Luigi Nervi.’In: Journal of International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures, 54, pp.127-135.

Halpern, AB, Adriaenssens, S (2013) ‘Coupled Form-Finding and Buckling Optimization for Stability-Sensitive Structures’ IASS conference , Wroclaw, Poland.

Halpern, AB, Adriaenssens, S. , Billington, D.(2013). ‘The Ribbed Floor Slab Systems of Pier Luigi Nervi’. IASS conference, Wroclaw, Poland.

Adriaenssens S., Lowinger R., Hernandez J.,Brown N., Halpern A., Aye Z M, Prier M. (2012). ‘The Shells of the Miami Marine Stadium: Synergy between form, force and energy.’ IASS-IACM 2012: 7th International Conference on Computational Mechanics of Spatial Structures., Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Halpern A.., Adriaenssens S., (2011). ‘Application of Sustainable Design Software to Footbridges‘ IABSE-IASS Symposium, London, UK.

Halpern A., Adriaenssens S. (2011). ‘State of sustainable practice in bridge design’. International Bridge Conference, Pittsburgh, USA.

Halpern A., Adriaenssens S. (2011).’Case Study: An Efficient, Elegant Redesign of the Route 29 Pedestrian Bridge in Columbia, MD, United States’ 4 th International Footbridge Conference, Poland.

Tine Tysmans

My name is Tine Tysmans, I’m a  structural engineer and PhD candidate at the Vrije Univeristeit Brussel since  2006. My research project, guided by prof. Sigrid Adriaenssens (Princeton University) and prof. Jan Wastiels (Vrije  Universiteit Brussel), explores the potential of a fire safe composite material  consisting of glass fibre textiles and an Inorganic Phosphate Cement matrix,  applied in shells. Due to the rheology of this new cementitious matrix, developed  at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a composite with a high fibre volume  fraction and thus high tensile capacity can be produced. Part of my research is  in the characterization and modeling of the composite’s constitutive behaviour,  uniaxially as well as biaxially. The fact that this textile reinforced  cementitious composite (TRC) can bear both tensile and compressive stresses is  particularly interesting for the exploration of new shapes of shells, never  built with steel-reinforced concrete. Moreover, this glass fiber reinforced  cementitious composite is noncorrosive, which results in a significant  thickness and herewith associated weight reduction for smaller span (<10 m)  shells. An important branch of my research is therefore focused on the  development and shape optimization of new doubly curved shapes for small span  shells.  I worked out a design methodology for TRC shells, interpreting  the design guidelines of the Eurocodes for this new composite material. Tine is currently Professor at MeMC, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.


Cauberg N., Tysmans T., Adriaenssens S., Wastiels J., Mollaert M., Belkassem B. (2012). ‘Shells elements of textile reinforced concrete using fabric formwork: a case study. In: Advances in Structural Engineering, 15(4), pp: 677 – 689.

Tysmans T., Adriaenssens S., Wastiels J. (2011). Form finding methodology for force-modelled anticlastic shells in glass fibre textile reinforced cement composites’, In: Engineering Structures,v.33.9, pp.2603-2611.

Tysmans T., Adriaenssens S., Cuypers H., Wastiels J. (2009). Structural Analysis of small span Textile Reinforced Concrete Shells with Double Curvature. In: Composites Science and Technology, Vol. 69, Iss. 11-12, pp. 1790 – 1796

Tysmans S., Wastiels J., Adriaenssens S. (2012).’Flexible Reinforcement Systems for Spatially Curved Concrete Structures.’ International Conference on Flexible Formwork.,University of Bath, UK.

Tysmans T., Adriaenssens S., Wastiels J., Remy O.,(2011). ‘Textile Reinforced Cement Composites for the design of very thin saddle shells: a case study’. 18th International Conference on Composite Materials,Jeju. Korea.

Tysmans T., Adriaenssens S., Wastiels J.,(2009).’Shape Optimisation of small span textile reinforced concrete shells’.IASS Symposium 2009: Evolution and trends in design, analysis and construction of shell and spatial structures, Valencia, Spain.

Tysmans T., Adriaenssens S., Wastiels J.,(2009).’Finite element modeling of the material behaviour of glass fibre textile reinforced cementitious composite’. NCTAM 8th National Congress on Theoretical and Appplied Mechanics, Brussels, Belgium.

Tysmans T., Belkassem B., Adriaenssens S.,Wastiels J., Cauberg N.,(2009).’Shell elements of Architectural Concrete Using Fabric Formwork – Part B: Case study’, 9th International Symposium on Fiber Reinforced Polymer Reinforcement for Concrete Structures (FRPRCS 9), Sydney, Australia.

Tysmans T., Cuypers H., Adriaenssens S., Wastiels J. and Remy O. (2008) ’Design of TRC Saddle Shells, part B: Influence of Material Nonlinearity’, CCC2008, book of extended abstracts (p234-235) and paper on cd-rom (10 pages), Porto, Portugal.

Cuypers H., Tysmans T., Adriaenssens S., Van Itterbeeck P., Remy O. and Wastiels J. (2008) ‘Design of TRC Saddle Shells, part A: influence of span and curvature’, CCC2008, book of extended abstracts (p232-233) and paper on cd-rom (8 pages), Porto, Portugal.

Serguei Bagrianski

I am pursuing a MSE degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. I have a Bachelor Degree in Engineering Science (specializing in Infrastructure) from the University of Toronto. My research goal is to produce a precast, segmental approach to thin shell concrete structures. This approach requires a design process that is considerate of both form and construction; a good shell must not only be structurally efficient, but must also be inexpensive to build. This balance allowed past masters – Nervi, Candela, Isler and the like – to produce incredibly elegant works of structural engineering. Today, thin shells are not built because this balance does not exist.  With increases in labor costs in the 1970s, old methods ceased to be competitive, and little was done in terms of innovation. Since that time, new form-finding techniques and better precasting technology have been introduced. By working with proven ideals and modern technology, I think it is possible to make thin shells concrete structures competitive once more.


Bagrianski S., Adriaenssens S.,(2012).’New numerical algorithms to facilitate a precast, segmental approach to thin shell concrete structures.” IASS-IACM 2012: 7th International Conference on Computational Mechanics of Spatial Structures., Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Huang T., Krupka M., Bagrianski S., Adriaenssens S., Wagner S. (2011). ‘Shaping mechanically coupled assemblies of dielectric elastomer elements’.2011 Materials Research Society Fall Meeting, Boston, USA.

James Richardson

I am currently an FNRS fellow doing a PhD under Prof. Adriaenssens (Princeton) and Prof. Philippe Bouillard at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium. I studied applied mathematics at the University of Cape Town and structural engineering/architecture at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Technical University of Eindhoven and in 2008 received the Brussels prize for Architecture. My research focus is on structural optimization, discrete and continuum topology optimization, optimization under uncertainty, and optimization of large-scale structures. I am also interested in industrial applications of structural optimization.


Richardson, J.N., Coelho, J., Bouillard, P. and Adriaenssens, S. (2014).‘Grid Shell Topology Optimization: Design of steel grid shell canopies. in ‘Shells for Architecture: Structural form-finding and optimisation’, Taylor and Francis.

Richardson, J.N., Coelho, R.F., Adriaenssens, S. (2013).‘Robust topology optimization of truss-like structures with random loading and material properties: a multi-objective perspective.’ In: Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (submitted).

Richardson, J.N., Coelho, R.F., Adriaenssens, S. (2013). ‘A unified stochastic framework for robust topology optimization of continuum and truss-like structures.’ In : Computers and Structures (submitted).

Richardson J.N., Adriaenssens S., Bouillard P, Coelho R. F. (2012).‘Asymmetry in discrete topology optimization’. In: Computers and Structures (under review)

Richardson J.N.,Adriaenssens S., Coelho R.F., Bouillard P., (2013).  Coupled form finding and grid optimization approach for single layer gridshells’. In: Engineering Structures, 52, pp. 230–239, DOI 10.1016/j.engstruct.2013.02.017

Richardson J.N., Adriaenssens S., Nordenson G, Labarenne R, Coelho R.F., (2013). Flexible optimum design of a bracing system for facade design using multiobjective Genetic Algorithms.’In: Automation in Construction. DOI 10.1016/j.autcon.2012.12018

Richardson J.N., Coelho R.F., Bouillard P., Adriaenssens S. (2012). ‘Symmetry and asymmetry of solutions in discrete and continuous structural optimization. In: Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization. DOI 10.1007/s00158-012-0871-8

Richardson J., Adriaenssens S., Bouillard P., Coelho R.(2012). Multi-objective topology optimisation of truss structures with kinematic stability repair.’ In: Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimisation. (DOI) 10.1007/s00158-012-0777-5.

Richardson, J.N., Adriaenssens, S., Nordenson, G., Coelho, R.F., Laberenne, R (2014). ‘Design of a museum facade bracing system for changing performance requirements using multiobjective optimization’, ASCE Congress 2014, Boston, USA (accepted).

Richardson, J, Coelho R, Adriaenssens S (2013).‘Robust topology optimization for 2D and 3D structures using a spectral stochastic finite element method.’ 10th World Congress on Structural Multidisciplinary Optimization, Florida, USA.

Richardson J., Adriaenssens S., Bouillard P., Coelho R.F. (2012). ‘Asymmetry in discrete topology optimization’. CST2012 The Eleventh International Conference on Computational Structures Technology, Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Richardson J N, Filomeno Coelho R, Bouillard P, Adriaenssens S. (2011).  ‘Multicriteria Topology Optimization of Discrete Structures with Kinematic Stability Repair’ In A G Malan, P Nithiarasu, and B D Reddy, editors, Second African Conference on Computational Mechanics – AfriCOMP11 Cape Town, South Africa.

Meghan Krupka

I am a Master’s graduate student in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Princeton University.  I started at Princeton in the fall of 2010 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the spring with  a B.S. in CEE. For my thesis, I am working on the design, modeling, and analysis of a retractable membrane-spline system. This concept evolved from a  roject in Professor Adriaenssens’ Form Finding class. I am modeling this structure with a Dynamic Relaxation algorithm  mplemented in MATLAB that attempts to replicate the physical form finding process used to initially  generate the small scale form. The final forms (open and closed) of the structure will be analyzed using FEM software, and the feasibility of the design will be  xamined in a specific case study. A potentially sustainable aspect will also be considered: the use of solar cells to provide power to the actuation mechanism.

Additionally, I am exploring a new physical form finding method based on homeostasis—a fundamental biological property. This  method applies heat as an external aggravator to a thermoplastic material in order to generate new forms. The heat causes a  eduction in the material’s stiffness, and in response, the material alters its form to continue resisting load.


Barnes M., Adriaenssens S., Krupka M. (2013). ‘A novel torsion/bending element for dynamic relaxation modeling’. In Computers and Structures, 19 (1), pp 60–67.DOI 10.1016/j.compstruc.2012.12.027

Huang T., Krupka M., Bagrianski S., , Wagner S. , Peters C., Adriaenssens S.(2011). ‘Shaping mechanically coupled assemblies of dielectric elastomer elements’.2011 Materials Research Society Fall Meeting, Boston, USA.

Ted Segal

I am currently a Ph.D. candidate researching polyester-rope suspended footbridges. The goal of this work is to combine numerical optimization and physical testing to identify new design methodologies and forms for this bridge type. Previously, I received a B.S. from Cornell University (2006) and an M.S.E. from Princeton (2008). My Master’s thesis, advised by Professor David P. Billington, presented Jack Christiansen’s design ideas for thin concrete shells and examined the influence of these ideas on the cost, structural behavior, and aesthetics of his completed structures. In 2008 I was awarded a Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship to study European physical modeling and testing laboratories and the structures that emerged from those facilities. The objective of this research was to identify potential roles for physical models as complements to computational models in design and education. From 2008 until 2011, I worked as a staff engineer at Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc. designing glass and metal enclosures in addition to serving as a preceptor and guest lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton.


Book Chapters

Segal, E. M. and Billington, D. P. (2011). Chapter 7, Section 7.1 “Concrete Shell Roofs,” Fifty Years of Progress for Shell and Spatial Structures; In Celebration of the 50th Anniversary Jubilee of the IASS (1959-2009), International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures, eds. Mungan, I and Abel, J. F.

Billington, D. P., and Segal, E. M. (2011). Chapter 2, “The Decade 1960-1969: The First Ten Years of the IASS,” Fifty Years of Progress for Shell and Spatial Structures; In Celebration of the 50th Anniversary Jubilee of the IASS (1959-2009), International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures, eds. Mungan, I and Abel, J. F.

Segal, E. M., Garlock, M. E., and Billington, D. P. (2008). Chapter 12, “Bacardí Rum Factory,” Félix Candela: Engineer, Builder, and Structural Artist, Princeton, NJ.

Journal Publications

Segal, E. M., Rhode-Barbarigos, L., Adriaenssens, S., and Filomeno Coelho, R. D. “Multiobjective Optimization of Polyester-Rope and Steel-Rope Footbridges,” Engineering Structures. [submitted]

Segal, E. M. and Adriaenssens, S. (2013). “Norfolk Scope Arena: A US Dome with a Unique Configuration of Interior Ribs and Buttresses,” Journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures, Vol. 54, n. 176 and 177, pp. 189-198.

 Conference Publications

Segal, E. M., Rhode-Barbarigos, L., Adriaenssens, S. and Zoli, T. P. “Pedestrian Excitation of a Polyester-Rope Suspended Footbridge in Ait Bayoud, Morocco,” abstract accepted for IABSE Conference Nara 2015; Elegance in Structures Symposium, Nara, Japan.

Segal, E., Rhode-Barbarigos, L., Adriaenssens, S. and Zoli, T. “Design and Development of Polyester-Rope Suspended Footbridges,” abstract accepted for SEI Structures Congress 2015, Portland, OR.

Segal, E. M., Rhode-Barbarigos, L., Filomeno Coelho, R. D., and Adriaenssens, S. (2014). “An Automated Robust Design Methodology for Suspended Structures,” IASS 2014 Symposium, Brasília, Brazil, Sept. 15-19.

Segal, E. M. and Adriaenssens, S. (2013). “Norfolk Scope Arena: A US Dome with a Unique Configuration of Interior Ribs and Buttresses,” IASS 2013 Symposium, Wroclaw, Poland, Sept. 23-27.

Segal, E. M., Adriaenssens, S., Zoli, T. P., and Flory, J. F. (2013). “Polyester Rope, an Alternative to Steel Cable for Pedestrian Suspended Bridges,” SEI Structures Congress 2013, Pittsburgh, PA, May 2-4.

Draper, P., Segal, E., and O’Connor, A. (2011). “Site and Sight: Examining the Forms of Hudson River Bridges,” 6th New York City Bridge Conference, New York, New York, July 25-26.

Draper, P., Segal, E. M., and Sicurelli, R. (2010). “Introductory Structural Engineering Education through Computational and Physical Model Building,” ASEE 2010 Conference, Louisville, Kentucky, June 20-23.

Segal, E. M. (2009). “The Thin Concrete Shells of Jack Christiansen,” IASS 2009 Symposium, Valencia, Spain, Sept. 28-Oct. 2.

Segal, E. M., Garlock, M. E., and Billington, D. P. (2008). “A Comparative Analysis of the Bacardí Rum Factory and the Lambert-St. Louis Airport Terminal,” IASS 2008 Symposium, Acapulco, Mexico, Oct. 27-31.

Polyester-rope suspended footbridge (Ait Bayoud, Morocco, 2013) during multiple pedestrian excitation test

Ashley Thrall

Ashley P. Thrall completed her Ph.D. in the “Design and Optimization of   Linkage-Based Movable Bridges” in May   2011 under the direction of Sigrid Adriaenssens, Maria Garlock, and David Billington.  This research   focused on developing new forms for movable bridges utilizing linkages as the   main structural and kinematic elements. The research methodology has included   using physical shape-finding techniques to develop new conceptual designs that   utilize mechanical advantage to minimize power demands. The geometry and the   section profiles of each conceptual design are optimized for minimum self-weight   and minimum force for operation.  She is currently the Cardinal John O’Hara,   C.S.C. Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame where  she directs the Kinetic Structures Laboratory (


Thrall A.P., Zhu M.,Guest J., Paya-Zaforteza I.,Adriaenssens S.(2012). ‘Structural Optimization of Deploying Steel Pantographs’. In: ASCE  Journal of Computing in Civil Engineering (accepted for publication)

Thrall A.P., Adriaenssens S., Paya-Zaforteza I, Zoli E. (2012). ‘Linkage Based Movable Bridge Forms: Design Methodology and Three Novel Forms. In: Engineering Structures, v.37,pp.214-223.

Thrall A., Adriaenssens S., Zoli T.P. (2012). ‘A Linkage-Based Movable Bridge Form: Design and Optimisation’. ASCE Structures Congress, Chicago, USA.

Thrall A., Adriaenssens S., Zoli T. (2011). ‘Applications for Linkages in Movable Bridge Design’. Structural Morpohology Workshop IABSE-IASS Symposium, London, UK.

Thrall A., Adriaenssens S. (2010).’Case studies in integrating mechanical and structural systems in movable bridges’., IASS 2010. Shanghai, China.

Dan Reynolds

My name is Dan Reynolds and I am a PhD student in the Mechanics, Materials and Structures branch of the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Princeton University. Following undergraduate degrees in Civil Engineering and Sculpture at Penn State, I came to Princeton to study form-finding and optimization techniques. In Greek mythology, Pygmalion is a sculptor who creates a statue so exquisite that he falls in love with it. For him, this form represented a previously unimaginable perfection, and it came to life (if only in a twisted fantasy). It is easy to see how those who create objects can be driven by the ultimate goal of bringing an idea to life. I like to view structural engineering as a four-dimensional process of formulating and evaluating systems that give objects shape. Structural engineers are not limited to supporting a prescribed form, but through familiarity with materials and manufacturing techniques can create forms that ‘optimize’ a client’s desire for economy, safety, and quality.