John E. Fernandez is an Associate Professor and member of the Building Technology Program in the Department of Architecture. He has been a member of the faculty since 1999 teaching in the design studio and numerous technology courses including Integrated Building Systems, all department structures courses, construction and materials and various workshops.
His research has been focused on the materials and physical elements and components of the assemblies and systems of buildings. A culminating publication of his research of the past several years is the newly published book, "Material Architecture: emergent materials for innovative buildings and ecological construction." (2005. Architectural Press: Oxford).
Currently, Professor Fernandez is engaged in the articulation of concepts of the ecology of contemporary construction. This effort involves identifying the distinct consumption profile and resource requirement attributes of our existing anthropogenic stock of buildings while formulating design strategies that contribute to reuse and recycling of building materials and components. Accepting the essential tenets of the field of industrial ecology, Fernandez is involved in two primary initiatives intended to bring forth real change in the ways in which material and energy networks are configured toward the making of contemporary buildings.
First, he believes that each anthropogenic product possesses characteristics of resource consumption that are particular to the satisfaction of the set of needs that artifact addresses. Architecture's primary and timeless purpose has been the production and stewardship of habitable space capable of reliably sheltering the vast array of human activities. This is a function that no other human artifact delivers with the same mandate. To fulfill this need, buildings consume resources - and do so in very particular ways. For example, the products of architecture consume resources at their distinct, generally immutable spatial locations - their individual sites. For the most part, buildings do not change their locations during their service lives. Materials and energy are harnessed and delivered to these countless sites. Also, buildings often serve useful lives of several generations and much longer, far outlasting the firms that design and construct their assemblies and systems. Fernandez has identified these characteristics, among several others, as the constitutive attributes of building metabolism.
Second, Professor Fernandez is intimately involved in developing real partnerships between the academy and industry for the purpose of establishing productive real-world projects of construction ecology. He is actively engaged in introducing the essential elements of industrial ecology to the construction industry and design profession in the US. Through an articulation of the constitutive attributes of the metabolism of contemporary buildings, academics working on concepts of industrial ecology and industry experts can begin to formulate a common ground for establishing real collaboration.
Both of these initiatives are intended to establish the Department of Architecture at MIT as a center of research and teaching about the resource demands of our contemporary buildings and formulate pathways toward more responsible production and consumption norms in the generation of future buildings.
During the last few years, Fernandez has been directing research focused on emerging and nontraditional materials (including natural and synthetic fibers, new laminated glass assemblies, textile building enclosures), innovative architectural assemblies, sustainable materials and the technical and design opportunities offered by the continuing exploration of contemporary materials. Recently he has been collaborating in the development of software designed to assist designers in the assessment and selection of material