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Prof Mark Goulthorpe Day Two Keynote Speaker for JEC’s ‘The Future of Composites in Construction’

14 February 2017

Prof Mark Goulthorpe, Associate Professor at the MIT Department of Architecture, teaching in undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate programs, and undergoing research in digital design and fabrication will serve as the guest keynote speaker for the Future of Composites in Construction Show & Conferences in Chicago at McCormick Convention Center, the premier convention facility in North America, Downtown Chicago, Illinois, US on 21 June 2017.

JEC Group is launching the Future of Composites in Construction Show & Conferences, a brand-new event, 100% End-User oriented and dedicated to one of the most promising composites market segments: Building & Civil Engineering, which it says is the third largest growing market for the US Composites Industry.

Goulthorpe is currently Head of the new Design Stream in the SMArchS program. Current research centres on robotic fabrication and a variety of composite fabrication methodologies, as well as a new iteration of the dynamically reconfigurable HypoSurface. Mark is also a practicing architect, acting as creative and technical director of 3 groups of networked inter-disciplinary teams: dECOi Architects, HypoSurface, and Zero+.

“Mark Goulthorpe’s vision makes him the perfect choice to support this endeavour and actively take part in substantially expanding and generalising the use of composite materials in the building and infrastructure fields,” says Nicolas Baudry, North America Shows Director at JEC Group.

The building industry is facing a productivity and affordability crisis in developed and developing markets, largely due to its inability to embrace new material-processing: over the past 30 years the building industry has decreased in productivity (despite a digital revolution) where the manufacturing sector has effectively doubled productivity. Evidently buildings face particular technical challenges, especially fire retardancy, adaptability and longevity; but many of these issues have nascent solutions developed in other sectors. However, there are no official industry leaders in the building industry to take a decisive first step; and the thought-leaders (architects and engineers) are caught in a project-by-project procurement logic that doesn’t suit sustained research and development drives. So, there is a profound need for the polymer industries to initiate comprehensive building-focused research to devise a range of emphatically-beneficial composite buildings, materials and methods that offer versatile, economical, code-compliant solutions.

Beyond framing the need for composites in buildings, this talk (and the Future of Composites in Construction event in Chicago in general) will propose the creation of inter-disciplinary consortia that pool different areas of expertise to pro-actively prove-up a range of composite building methodologies, and an example of just such an inter-disciplinary initiative (ZERO+) will be shown for automated composite housing. What began as a SOLVE initiative at MIT, which now has support from groups like Shell and Tata, looks to now involving other pro-active groups interested in developing this potential market. In outlining this holistic new ZERO+ building methodology, the particularities and complexities of the building industry will be highlighted, especially in respect of building codes and the intractable nature of market reception to new materials/methods.

"Implicit in a civilisational-scale, composite-building vision is that we seek to shift emphasis from burning hydrocarbon resources (to make steel, concrete, aluminum, gypsum, etc.), and instead deploy polymeric composites as an ubiquitous building material, sequestering carbon now at macro scale. The economic opportunity is vast, but so is the potential environmental benefit, at what will be a critical period of unprecedented urban growth internationally,” Goulthorpe adds.

If you would like to learn more about the Future of Composites in Construction in Chicago, please contact Nicolas Baudry at


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