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New Materials Lab Offers Students Vital Exposure to Building and Construction Materials

CADC Materials Lab bins

In collaboration with faculty and students in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction (CADC), the Library of Architecture Design and Construction (LADC) at Auburn University developed an interdisciplinary Materials Laboratory. A centrally located lab provides CADC students and faculty with a current, curated, fully cataloged and circulating collection of building materials samples. Creating a Materials Lab offers students a hands-on and interdisciplinary sensory experience of building and construction materials. As materials research is a key component to students’ learning in design disciplines, the tactile and visual experience of handling physical building material samples allows students to investigate and discover these materials in new ways.

 In April 2013, Kasia Leousis, Architecture and Art Librarian, was awarded a Daniel F. Breeden Endowed Grant by the University Senate Teaching Effectiveness Committee for her proposal to develop a Materials Lab at the LADC. The grant funded the opportunity to attend the symposium “Materials Education and Research in Art and Design: A New Role for Libraries” held at the Rhode Island School of Design last June. The library was able to purchase a Nikon Digital SLR camera, a pop-up photography studio, supplies, and hire a part-time graduate student worker to help process and research the samples.

The LADC received a generous startup collection of samples from Sheri Schumacher, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. The library is actively soliciting additional donations from vendors and cataloging the items using the Construction Specification Insitute’s MasterFormat divisions. Each material is available for 7-day checkout for use in studio projects and critiques and over 290 different materials samples are currently discoverable through the library’s catalog. AU Library Systems created a complementary online collection in DSpace, a digital library repository, where the library is adding images and more detailed information about each material’s applications, composition, form, process, properties, and vendor.

Several CADC faculty have incorporated the Materials Lab into their courses with research projects and assignments. Kevin Moore and Robert Sproull, Assistant Professors in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, asked their students to solicit and research innovative samples that were then added to the lab’s collection. Both courses also developed a “wishlist” of over 100 new items for the Materials Lab to acquire. Professor Schumacher’s students in “Elements of Interior Architecture II” recently worked with the lab, selecting three materials from the collection to research in-depth. CADC faculty and student involvement in this project ensures that the Materials Lab develops into a useful teaching and research tool. To this end, the LADC will continue to focus on acquiring and maintaining an up-to-date collection of emerging and sustainable interdisciplinary building materials.

For more information about the Materials Lab at LADC, please contact Kasia Leousis, Architecture and Art Librarian, .


Materials Lab Research Guide

Materials Lab Digital Collection (AU ID and password required)


Photo information:

Materials Lab Collection (2 photos)

Research projects by students in Professor Sheri Schumacher’s “Elements of Interior Architecture II” on exhibit in the LADC